Local Church Rallies Support for Victims of Human Trafficking
The IRC in Seattle is the lead agency in WARN – a coalition of organizations across Washington state that provide direct assistance to victims of trafficking. Human trafficking is form of modern-day slavery, and it affects people here in our own community. WARN allows victims of trafficking to escape their enslavement and provides them with comprehensive services including urgent response, housing, food, clothing, intensive case management, physical and mental health services, access to immigration and legal assistance, and much more. When a victim escapes a trafficking situation and is removed from immediate danger, it is the first step on a long, arduous journey toward rebuilding their lives.
Some members of our community – Marysville Free Methodist Church constituents – recognize how challenging this first step can be and asked WARN how they can help. Last March, WARN’s Outreach Program Coordinator responded by meeting with church members to discuss local human trafficking issues and suggest ideas for community involvement. Beverly Geer and other church members took the presentation as a call to action and began organizing a donation drive to support victims of human trafficking.
Though WARN meets with community groups often, they were impressed by the tremendously generous response from the church: “They donated twenty-seven emergency kits for our clients. We are always looking for donations of emergency and personal items, but we have never received a donation like this before – it’s really exciting.” Each emergency kit includes a blanket, pillow, sleeping bag, personal items (soap, shampoo, etc.) and a pair of pajamas. These kits are intended for clients who have escaped a trafficking situation and are in need of immediate, secure housing, which WARN arranges through local housing providers. Often, staff members have to go out, in that stressful moment, to find all of these fundamental items. Having the emergency kits on hand makes the transition easier on the client who has just gotten out of a very traumatic situation.
The emergency kits not only provide immediate relief to clients, but the small act of meeting someone’s basic needs can also help restore human dignity. WARN staff members emphasize that the road to recovery for most victims of trafficking is an emotionally and mentally trying experience that involves incredible strength on the part of the client. WARN must earn the trust of their clients in order to help them through this long journey. Providing victims with basic necessities on their first night away from harm is an essential step in the trust-building process.
“It’s wonderful to see community members rally together and support those who oftentimes don’t have a voice in our community.”
To learn more about WARN and how you can support victims of human trafficking, visit http://warn-trafficking.org/
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