I Would Use That Word… Hope
Minh was brought to the UK with promises of a better life,…
A member of the Love146 team in Africa reflects on presenting our “My Body is Mine” flip chart: “The children in Madagascar need to be reached because their parents aren’t talking about sexual abuse, or sexuality, with them. So kids aren’t aware of it. Even me, I was not. I didn’t know the meaning of the word “rape” until I was 15. It wasn’t until I was older when I understood what it was.
A report from a Love146 social worker: Survivors of child trafficking live in lots of different settings, and I go where they go. One of my youth is living in a group home that only offers a certain generic shampoo, and as a black girl it leaves her curly hair dry and brittle. Imagine having a bad hair day – everyday – while you’re trying to do some really really hard emotional work, like recover from sexual assault and trafficking. Love146 makes sure needs are met so youth can focus on the huge task of reclaiming their lives. Sure, sometimes that has high price tags, but last week, just $8 got her some ethnically appropriate shampoo. And it was a big deal.
The education of youth is often interrupted by their exploitation. For children in our Survivor Care, re-engaging with school is like trying to climb a hill while carrying a heavy weight. The hill has typical steps and obstacles that everyone has to learn how to master. Like showing up on time. Like learning how to ask for your own makeup work. The kinds of things that every teenager has to learn how to do. Love146’s role is to make sure that the weight of exploitation and recovery doesn’t ultimately pull students backwards or prevent them from making that climb.
The documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” has appeared in the midst of a resurgence of interest in Mr. Rogers, fueled by a growing hunger for kindness in a world that has become increasingly angry and cynical. If you know anything about Mr. Rogers, you know his main theme was about the neighborhood — and about who the neighbor is. It’s a value that the children in our care remind us of on a regular basis.
No time for breakfast. Meet a new youth coming into our care. Go over safety planning. On to next appointment. Grab a salad. Meet with another youth who was the victim of a traumatic assault. Try not to cry. Remind myself that with the right support we know they can have wonderful lives.
“My father, now 89 years old with Alzheimer’s Disease, can’t recall my name. But my memories of him from my early years are more vivid today than ever— including what he taught me by example about being a father, and how I see a similar approach in how Love146 cares for children.”
We were thrilled when we noticed a spike in the number of people who viewed one of our videos. Until we looked deeper and discovered how the video had been hijacked as clickbait to attract precisely the audience we fight against — which only makes the problem worse.
Proximity inspires action. The closer we are in proximity to the actual people affected by injustice, abuse, or harm, the more we are impacted and the deeper we engage. Oftentimes a human rights issue, such as the trafficking and exploitation of children, seems “far away” or feels like something that happens “over there.”
How can we equip a youth in a short period of time to protect themselves from the dangers they could be facing?
A recent report from from the UK has everyone talking. On the surface, the news is disheartening. The number of British national children referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has gone up by an astonishing 66 percent since 2016. In fact, the new numbers don’t point to an actual surge, but a noticeable change in practice of frontline staff who have received better NRM training and are now able to identify these children.
Connecticut lawmakers are considering a number of bills that impact child trafficking. Among them is a bill would be a powerful tool that will help bring traffickers to justice. And two others that could actually harm children who have been affected by trafficking. You can help: Please call your legislators and let them know you stand with children who have been trafficked.
Shine a Light on Slavery Day is part of the growing movement of people coming together to take a stand against human trafficking. It’s a day for us to celebrate how far we’ve come and rally for the fight ahead. It’s a day for us to take a stand, to join together and use our collective voices to say no more. It’s a day when you can look around and see how many others are standing with alongside you in this conviction. We are here to fight until the abolition of trafficking and exploitation is complete.
Our Prevention team visited a juvenile detention center to speak with young people about human trafficking. What happened gave us hope.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and we want to share what our prevention strategy is all about.
In the UK more than a third of all trafficking victims are children. Many were brought here with false promises, threats, and abuse. Because it’s not an easily visible crime, it’s a bit hard to believe — that such a progressive and generous nation could still hold so many children in modern slavery. But it’s true. These young people are all around us: working in your local nail bar, at the carwash on the corner, as domestic servants, or forced to grow and sell drugs. The truth is, if they are invisible, it is because we have not taken the trouble to see them.
A group of four ambitious bike riders traversed the French countryside on a fundraising tour for Love146. Their grit and determination reminds us that childhood is not the only time to which these kinds of adventures should be confined, inspiring us to dust off our bikes and relive our childhoods so that trafficked children may yet have an opportunity to live theirs.
Students are growing up in a world of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — these are today’s gathering places. The space where youth engage in the normal adolescent behavior of exploring and testing their boundaries. As a preventative measure, we want to teach kids how to safely navigate the Internet, how to recognize when something may be getting out of control, and how to access help when needed.
When Jelena first came to our care, she wouldn’t discuss what happened to her, but little by little, she has begun to open up and process. Jelena enjoys caring for the animals on the Love146 farm, going to school, and she recently won first place in the rope jumping contest.
As a parent, you have a miraculous connection to your child. That connection is the fuel that propels you out of bed in the middle of the night when a baby cries, soothes tears when a child falls and scrapes her knee, or is the last one picked for the team. And when the worst happens, when your child goes missing, when your little girl becomes someone else’s Jane Doe, sold on Backpage.com, you harness the synergy of that miraculous connection and put that same determination into changing. the. law.
Resilience generally means the ability to bounce back or recover from trauma or difficulties. In the physical sense, resilience is the ability of a material to resume its shape, after being deformed. For the children in our care at the Love146 safe homes in the Philippines, resilience means more than that.
What happens when you bring a group of eight wary young survivors in our long-term services to a Wilderness School for a day of trust-building outdoor activities? They soar.
Kik’s new virtual money increases risk for teenagers online.
This is both a challenging and exciting time for the Love146 UK team. More children than ever need the support we offer, and we have just taken steps towards serving more young people with the addition of several new team members. Growing our capacity is one of the practical ways that we offer young people the very best that we can.
My first experience with this phrase is deeply etched in my mind: A young girl shared that she had met a group of people — people she thought were her friends. When things began to change, she wasn’t aware what was happening until it was too late. She said, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” These “friends” became her traffickers. They identified her vulnerability and need for connection, and they skillfully exploited it.
Giving up is never the right answer. Reevaluating, yes, reimagining, of course — but never giving up. Yet that was nearly the end result of one Volunteer Team after a year of floundering. What a mistake that would have been. They rebounded with more impact than they had considered possible. Here’s how it all went down.
When people hear about child trafficking and exploitation they want to do something about it. But the issue is daunting, and thinking about what you can do tangibly to make a difference is vexing. We get it. We want you to know that engaging with a grassroots movement in your community, such as a Love146 Volunteer Team, is one of the most powerful and impactful actions anyone can take towards making a safer world for children. Here’s why.
Hike, Talk, Laugh, Cry… However you make time to take care of yourself, it’s important that you do! Life is intense – here’s how we take care of ourselves at Love146.
What does justice look like for the youth in our care? For one youth in our survivor care program, justice includes having the person who trafficked and abused her convicted, sentenced, and publicly admonished by a judge.
Many say they can’t relate to others their age; they date older men, and explain to me that since they’re more mature they need to be with more mature men. They see other children their age as “kids,” whereas they themselves are “adults.”
I’m in this sticky position where I need to acknowledge the fact that they have been through more than any child should have to go through, and yet encourage them to be a child. To put down that burden of “adulthood,” and to experience childhood. They deserve to be children.
At Love146, we cultivate a long-lasting relationship that models healthy boundaries and allows the youth to “dig” when they feel safe, trusted, and valued. Youth then allow us to bear witness to their stories in their own time, in their own way. They are in control, which is one of the most important things we can restore to their lives.
These two little ones have a lot in common. They’re both from the same region. Peter is four, and Yamile turned four last summer. They both came to into our Survivor Car around the same time, at the age of two. Today, in 2017, they’re practically joined at the hip. They walk to school together with a Love146 staff member every morning and sometimes go swimming together in the afternoons in the pool at the White Home.
Whenever we were with the children in public places, people would ask, “Who are all these children? Are they siblings?” I would say, they are cousins or they are playmates, or just ignored the question. Now I have determined that Love146 children will be called “scholars” instead of “clients” as they would be called in all the other safe homes or shelters in the Philippines. The children’s eyes lit up when they heard the word “scholar.” And as I explained why “scholar” is an appropriate term for them, I thought I saw great self-worth dawning upon their faces.
Our Rapid Responses help youth understand how a perpetrator uses manipulation, tricks, and force to take advantage of them. We talk about how easy it is to be taken advantage of. How everyone has things they need, things they struggle with, and how someone could use these things to build trust for the sole purpose of exploitation. This may be the first time that he or she is told: “It is not OK that someone treated you this way.” It may be the first time they hear: “It is not your fault.” Or that: “You are valuable and important.”
She’s still a little nervous as she gets out of the car, walks through the garden. This brick path has carried many young people with heavy histories and cautious steps. But she’s grinning from ear to ear, taking in the plants and the cricket song and the sweet night air.
“I’ve heard of pimps and I knew to be scared of them – but I didn’t realize that the person I thought was protecting me was actually my pimp.”
— Brianna, one of more than 200 youth who have been served by our U.S. Survivor Care program
When will our society learn that victims are NOT criminals?
Last week, you came through to help us launch a bill that would guarantee privacy to victims of trafficking in Connecticut. And now we need your help again in the final push to protect the confidentiality of the young survivors we work with, and many more.
What can a new pair of glasses mean for a young girl in our safe homes?
These girls are fighting daily for everything they deserve, despite what they’ve been dealt. When we sell them short, we hold back all of humanity.
I open my email and begin reading the details about another youth coming into our care. I’m infuriated that another kid has experienced this. Infuriated that another adult thought it was okay to use a child as a sex object. Infuriated that all the adults who should have protected this child, have failed her so horrifically.
When listening becomes one of your true, living values it can be a powerful tool for social change.
We’ve met some of the people who make up the future of the abolition movement. And some of them have braces.
What makes my work with Love146 so special is that no matter how many times a young person is uprooted or shuffled around from place to place, I can promise them that I’ll stick around. Our relationship to them won’t be uprooted and wiped away.
Suddenly, all of her usual sarcasm and joking disappeared. Jade began to share that the hurtful things that she’d heard from the people raising her. She just wanted to feel at home somewhere, but they made her feel like she was “more than they could handle.” That moment was so heavy — she just sat there, brave and silent, with these feelings of rejection, waiting to see how I would respond.
When you’re in the middle of grief and anger, it’s hard to see yourself as a creative participant in your own bright future. But we believe this is possible. So do a lot of kids in Love146’s survivor care — and they have powerful things to teach us about the beauty of what is to come for each one of us.
We had people over for the Super Bowl last weekend. We had a Patriots themed party for goodness sakes, with Patriots plates and napkins and cups and banners. But really? I had this persistently surreal moment and all I could keep thinking is: It’s a game. It’s not real life.
Thirteenth birthdays are a big deal. And today, we want to celebrate a very special one. It taught us all something about generosity and the power of one person, no matter how young, to change the world.
A group of teens in Pennsylvania wanted to engage with the issue of child trafficking. After spending an evening learning about the issue and serving Love146 behind the scenes, they asked themselves what kind of words could bring hope and healing to a young person in a situation like this. Here are some of their messages — and if you have survived something yourself, these letters are for you, too.
This December individual donors and matching donor, Michelle Phan, contributed a breathtaking $119,199! Michelle Phan shared, “We will do anything to help create a future where children are safe. This is our radical mission. This is our purpose. 2017 will be a powerful year. We are just beginning!”
Whether we’re 7 or 70, we owe a lot of thanks to the people in our lives who remind us to be goofy, to be brave, and to be ourselves. Check out these pictures of the youngest children in our safehomes being good friends to each other. We promise: It’ll make your day!
The children in the Love146 safe homes recently took a field trip…
I met with a high-risk youth so we could talk and do some safety planning. She made clear that she wasn’t going to cooperate, that there was nothing I could say that would matter to her. That is, until I mentioned sexual assault, how it was never the fault of the person who got hurt. Then, something happened that surprised both of us.
Does the moment described in “Silent Night” have anything to offer to people who are suffering? What difference does one calm, loving scene make in this world where so few know peace?
For a lot of us, the holiday season has its challenges. It reminds us how things “ought to be,” and we may find ourselves wishing our lives and families looked more like the happy, healthy ones we see in movies and Christmas cards. This is true for many children in Love146’s global survivor care programs. We’re determined to do whatever it takes to help them feel important and loved during the holidays!
The children in our care are not voiceless. Translated from their language, tagalog, the words in these videos below are directly from the boys and girls in our care in the Philippines. There is no silver lining to being trafficked or exploited, but there is a shining resilience in humanity that refuses to be extinguished.
Sonya recently told us: “I am building my life, piece by piece. Despite everything that happened to me, I believe there’s a wonderful plan for my life. I am determined to unravel the future waiting for me.”
Some days it feels foolish to believe like this, to tend our defiant hope against so much darkness. But this holiday season, inspired by children, we’re determined to keep our candles burning longer and brighter. As one child in our survivor care has said, “When we are given light, we should give that light to others.”
We’re so grateful for those of you who gave today. For every donation, there is a child who will feel your support making a difference in their life. We’re moved by the reasons that each person chooses to give – here are a few of those things our supporters shared…
Fifty-seven years ago today, the United Nations officially adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It states in its opening that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” This year, on International Children’s Day, we need to ask ourselves: are we, the adults of humankind, giving children the best we have to give?
So much of my work with Love146 leads me back to that place of anger and grief. Each time I have to go there, I want to hide from it, step around it, seal it up. But the day that happens — the day I’m no longer affected by the pain of another person — is the day compassion ends for me.
For children whose needs and agency have not been respected, self-care helps them learn how strong and important they are. “Before, other people controlled my life. Now, I have control over myself,” says Cate. And that transformation can start with things as simple as brushing their teeth, taking their vitamins, or washing their hands before they eat.
What’s the buzz at the Love146 safe homes? Six new hives of stingless bees! Under the children’s care, the safe homes are reaching a new level of sustainability. Seeing kids collaborate so beautifully with nature, we’re reminded that cultivation is very, very different from exploitation.
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