The statistics of human trafficking are hard to believe. According to the USSD 2019 TIP (Trafficking in Persons Report), there are an estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery, including those in forced labor and marriage, generating up to $150 billion in profit for traffickers. As we know, human trafficking is not limited to adults as almost 1/3 of the victims are children. In the USA alone, roughly 200,000 persons are at high risk for sex trafficking each year. The average age in the USA is 13 years and in many other countries it’s even younger.
A “ray of hope” in the midst of these staggering numbers is LIFEWAY NETWORK in the New York Metropolitan area. Its mission envisions a world in which human trafficking is abolished and every survivor is strong, connected and free, and it joins the global movement in its hope and action.
Since LIFEWAY NETWORK was founded in 2007, it has emphasized the power of collaboration and maintains two components in its mission:
- EDUCATION: Thousands of students, law enforcement officers, health care professionals, social service providers, faith-based communities, and other groups have experienced presentations that seek to raise awareness about the universality and atrocity of human trafficking.
- SAFE HOUSING PROGRAM which provides short-term emergency safe housing and long-term safe housing specifically for women survivors who have been trafficked. The program serves both survivors, domestic and foreign-born women, as well as women of both labor and sex trafficking.
Presently there are 3 safe houses in the New York metropolitan area. Each house has a core community of 3 religious sisters who live there but have outside ministries. (On the right is one of the safe house bedrooms.) The residents experience the sister’s companionship as well as outside sources such as: legal aid, medical/mental health care job skills training, translation interpretive services, et al. During the day, there are volunteer sisters and lay women who have been through an application process/interview/vetting and been accepted to provide safety and presence at a safe house for a few hours each month…