FAIR Girls Offers Safe Place for Teen Trafficking Victims
Rex board member Rosalie Howarth passes on this note from Andrea Powell, Executive Director of FAIR Girls, 2011 recipient of the Bill Graham Award. We’re delighted to share it with you, and happy that your generosity helps us help people like FAIR Girls!
The Rex Foundation have been such an amazing supporter, and so I wanted to share with you a sweet photo collage of FAIR Girls’ first emergency apartment for girl survivors of sex trafficking and labor exploitation in Washington, D.C. With funding from the Victims of Crime, we can now provide crisis housing for up to one month for 50 girls in 2014! I was also so happy to hear about the support for 88Bikes. We have sincerely enjoyed working with them in our Balkan programs!
2013 has been an incredible year of growth at FAIR Girls. We have served more than 400 girl survivors (150 in D.C. alone) and educated over 3,000 teens on how to stay safe from sex trafficking.
We continue to see an increased demand for our critical care services and prevention education. We are now serving girls in Maryland, D.C., Virginia as well as Bosnia, Serbia, Russia, and Uganda. Our individual donors comprise more than 60% of our annual support, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of State, the Office of Victims of Crime, Maryland University, Eileen Fisher, the Rapidan Foundation, the Cafritz Foundation, TJ Maxx, and many incredible family foundations.
Our emergency apartment is a critical next step to ensure we can provide safe and therapeutic housing for girls who have just escaped their traffickers. Often, these brave girls come to us in the middle of the night after a law enforcement rescue. Over the past years, we have had to use dangerous adult shelters where pimps troll the neighborhoods for new victims. This apartment is critical to the safety of each girl we serve and will bolster our current counseling and long-term compassionate care program.
Every girl we find deserves a peaceful place to begin her new life of freedom. Below is a story of our first emergency apartment guest. Thank you so much for believing in the girls we serve, and happy holidays to you and yours!
A Girl’s First Night of Peace
It was 2:30 A.M., and she needed a safe place to sleep. She had no clothes and hadn’t eaten for two days. She needed peace.
She was a “runaway,” “throwaway,” homeless and, before that, a foster child.
Her teachers didn’t even notice she stopped coming to school. It was easy for her trafficker to lure her from the bus stop into his car; his simple offer of a meal, a warm place to stay was enough. Her foster mom didn’t report her missing. She was gone, just like that.
She didn’t deserve to be sold into sex trafficking.
Three years later, a police officer almost arrested her as just another “teen prostitute.” However, FAIR Girls had educated him at a recent training, and the officer was able to recognize the girl’s tattoos, fear, and trembling speech as signs of a victim of trafficking. The officer called, and our staff came immediately to pick her up. It was 2:30 A.M., and this girl needed a safe place to sleep. She had no clothes and hadn’t eaten for two days. She needed peace.
On December 10th, FAIR Girls opened our first emergency overnight apartment in Washington, D.C. While neighbors around us were enjoying holiday lights and cookies, this young survivor walked timidly into the doors of our safe haven. She is our very first guest.
We offered her clean towels, toiletries, and pajamas – all donated by amazing supporters. While she showered, we made her toast and eggs. She emerged a few minutes later looking just like any other teenage girl. The remnants of her past three years as a domestic minor victim of sex trafficking were beginning to fall away. She ate and went straight to bed.
In the past two months, FAIR Girls has recovered more than 25 new survivors of sex trafficking in D.C. alone. This number doesn’t even include the hundreds of girls we serve around the world in our Bosnian, Serbian, Russian, and Ugandan programs, or the thousands of boys and girls we teach to stay safe from exploitation every year.