This spring of 2017, we plan to open a residential treatment center for minors who are survivors of human trafficking. It is to these minors that our hearts go out the most. If a child can be taken out of slavery, the potential for them to stay out forever is greatly increased, not to mention the years of pain that can be prevented. It is difficult to place an exact number on how many minors are in slavery in the United States, but estimates run between 200,000 and 300,000. In the past decade, the FBI alone has rescued more than 2,700 girls from trafficking and convicted 1,300 traffickers.
While the San Diego Police Department does have an anti-trafficking division, San Diego County has no organization providing housing solely for minors coming out of trafficking. Many of these girls are runaways from the foster care system or have dropped out of high school. The Refuge will provide a place for girls to stay for up to two years so that they can have the best opportunity possible for healing and healthy integration into society. Schooling, job training, various types of therapy, in a healthy family-style atmosphere are all a part of the center’s program.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to quote our Lord Jesus Christ when describing the reason for her work: “You did it to me.” We hope to live this same ideal and welcome our Savior in the person of these girls who have suffered so much: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9: 37). It is our prayer that we be Christ’s light in the life of these girls.