written by, Hanne Fellers
Every summer, The U.S. State Department releases the Trafficking In Persons Report. Many of our ZOE staff anticipate the release of this report every year. We’re always curious to which angle the report will take. This years report did not disappoint. It is filled with heart wrenching stories, but also inspiring progress and victories of good people who fought the good fight and won. It’s encouraging to read about what people are doing all over the world to combat trafficking.
I wanted to share one of the stories shared by Susan Coppedge (former federal prosecutor in the U.S. and now as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons)
“I will never forget a young woman in a case I prosecuted, a survivor who I’ll call Teresa. She was raised in Central America by her grandmother, and as a young woman, was deceived by a man she thought cared for her with promises of love and a better life. That man brought Teresa to the United States and, instead of building a new life with her, forced her into commercial sex, took all the money she was paid, and intimidated her with threats of deportation and humiliation before her family. His threats not only instilled fear in Teresa and coerced her into exploitation; they also convinced her she was a criminal for violating federal immigration and local anti-prostitution laws.
There are people like Teresa trapped in compelled service all over the world who fear that justice systems will punish them, rather than convict and incarcerate their traffickers—and in reality their fears are often justified. Teresa ultimately stood before a judge in a case against her trafficker and shared her experience in a court of law. What’s more, she saw her trafficker convicted and sentenced to jail, and she received an award of restitution for the money he made by exploiting her. When the case was over, I was able to return to Teresa a picture she had carried with her to the United States of her grandmother, who had since passed away—a memory of her prior life. While governments can never fully reverse the trauma of human trafficking, they can help survivors pursue the justice they deserve and return to a life of their choosing, a life with dignity and free will.” - Susan Coppedge, TIP Report 2017
As we are gearing up to open ZOE Children’s Homes Los Angeles, I am getting so EXCITED about what our role will be. We know from our experience in Thailand that our facilities have been major tools to bring about restoration and healing. The video below shows that there are hundreds of children rescued every year in the U.S. and we are prepared to DO SOMETHING to help these traumatized kids. Please consider joining us, we need your help.
Watch this video to see more details on ZOE's home in Los Angeles.