Anti Trafficking Outreach Team
Anti Trafficking Outreach Team
Did you know that the Source has an outreach team for Anti-Trafficking? Launched this fall in October the Outreach team was a dream of Anti-Trafficking director, Maria. Her vision has been to get in contact with women and have conversations that allow more women to become aware of our presence as a friend and a resource.
Maria talks about a dream she had many months ago with a divine awe. She said, “I had this dream that I was getting a text but I wasn’t sure what it meant.” In her dream she remembers receiving a text from previous Source staff member, Jillian. She remembered the dream while talking to Jillian and brought it up. It just so happens that Jillian had just attended a conference that talked about the use of text messaging on a website that sells merchandise and services as a tool for pimps and traffickers.
Since that conversation, Maria has rounded up a team of passionate individuals to form an outreach team to use backpages.com to text women to get in contact with them and hopefully set up a face to face meeting with them. The goal of these meetings is simply to let the women know that they are loved and have a friend, to give them a small gift bag and to learn more about their lives. “We want to connect with them and let them know that God loves them right here and now,” Maria said. “Our goal is not to rescue them, we want them to know there are resources out there if they want to get out, to empower them to make that choice to leave the life of prostitution.”
Since joining the staff team in 2014, Maria has been wanting to have some sort of face to face interaction with the women the Annex is hoping to serve. With her experiences in China and India, she has seen the impact of building relationships and having face to face conversations with women. Her biggest challenge is that trafficking happens behind closed doors in America. It looks much different here than it does in Asia, which makes it harder to figure out where and how to make connections.
Since the shutdown of the section on the website that the outreach team most utilized, Maria and her team have needed to come up with other creative alternatives to get in contact with women. The momentum is there, but the challenges of navigating an online world are ever present. Despite this, they are eager and optimistic after making contact with a few women and as more awareness is brought to the issue of human trafficking.
“Is this easy?,” Maria said, “No, because everything in me says ‘leave this life, there are other options out there, we can help you, we have safe housing.’ But we want to empower them through ongoing relationships and let them know that there are resources to help them if they want to get out of this life.”
“My hopes for the future of the outreach team is to have more teams, who meet at different times of the day and week. Right now we meet on Monday afternoon, which is not a convenient time for many people but this is when work is slowing down for many women,” said Maria. If you would like to join the Outreach Team or hear more information, email email@example.com if you are interested!
If you are looking for ways to donate, the team is in need of a used smartphone that is unlocked to use to text the women. We also welcome donations of gift bag items such as cosmetics or gift cards to coffee shops like Caribou or Starbucks. You can also contact Maria for specific things to donate for the gift bags. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on events and other ways to help out!