Ten years ago I learned that we live in a world where children are sold for sex. At the time, I had never met anyone exploited in this manner. Now I have met hundreds. They have faces and names and stories unique to each of them. I have had them in my home to live, to celebrate and to laugh. I know their nightmares, their fears and their hopes. After 10 years, I am convinced more than ever that the greatest need for most victims of this crime is a home and a family. People who will walk beside them as they navigate their unique healing journey AND provide tangible resources so they can be and do all God created them to. So as an organization we continue to do just that …
Last week I received a call from our Directors in Tanzania – Joel and Stephanie Midthun – that one of our 12 year old residents at Courage House needs a very specialized operation; surgery that must be done in another country. Prior to coming to Courage House, her mom sold her to various men in her village in exchange for alcohol. Because she was so young, 11 years old at the time, they sodomized her, thinking this was more appropriate than actual rape. They tore her body in ways that can be mended with the proper medical team but what they did to her spirit will take many years to heal. Her transition to Courage House has been difficult but one she courageously embraces daily. She wants the operation and an opportunity to go to school with her sisters at Courage House. With your financial help Courage Worldwide will provide both. The surgery will cost approximately $5000.
This past week at the Northern California Courage House Too (our over 18 home) one of our young residents, who is a single mom of a one year old, got a job and is finishing her first semester of college! Excited laughter filled the house until she found out that weekly daycare will cost her over $300. Doing the math, she figured working 30 hours a week would only produce income to cover daycare not food, diapers or rent. By faith, we encouraged her to accept the job and enroll for her second semester of college. Again, with your financial help Courage Worldwide will provide her daycare costs.
December 7th, we are celebrating graduation from our C2BU (Courage to Be You) school in Tanzania – a school we started for residents at Courage House. We have two girls graduating from Form 4 – which is equal to high school. Both plan to further their education where one will be studying to be an attorney and one a social worker. We have another resident who is attending Vocational College studying Hotel Management. The remainder of our girls will began a new school year after the Christmas break. This time next year we expect to have 5 graduates! Courage Worldwide is passionate about equipping, encouraging and empowering our residents to further their education and pursue their dreams. With your financial support, we provide tuition and tutors to our residents here in the U.S. while actually funding and staffing the school in Tanzania.
It is now Christmas break and our girls are getting ready for visits to their families if they have been deemed safe. If we know their families cannot protect them or have exploited them, they will remain at Courage House to celebrate the holidays with staff. Whether they return to their families or remain, the highlight of the year is getting a new outfit for Christmas. The cost of this new outfit and shoes is about $20. This year, prior to shopping for the outfits, 3 of our residents asked, if instead of receiving new clothes, could they have flour, sugar and oil to take home to their families. Our social worker was taken aback at the request since everyone was thrilled with the prospect of the outfit. She asked the girls why the substitution – were they wanting the food to be a gift to their families? No, they replied. Each explained that at their last family visit they were hungry the entire time and that there was no food. The lack of food, they further explained, was one of the reasons they were previously sold. How humbling to hear this request from these young girls. It took such courage for them to even ask and to make our staff aware of their family situation. When I heard this story from our Directors in Tanzania, I was overwhelmed at their need and overwhelmed by the realization of what my children would be receiving for Christmas and how much food would be on our table this holiday season. Immediately, I approved a budget increase for December that we would ensure each girl received her new outfit as promised and the requested flour, sugar and oil for each and every family. It was without hesitation we made this promise to our residents, confident that our faithful donors like you would provide these gifts for our girls.
Some girls won’t be going home this Christmas here in the U.S. and in Tanzania as their homes and families are not safe places. Because of this, residential housing continues to be a priority at Courage Worldwide. Without a roof over their head, young girls and women are vulnerable to traffickers who all offer a place to live – even if the cost is extremely high – selling their bodies. When a young woman has no place to call home her chances of exploitation are extremely high. Last week, we received a call from a former resident of Courage House who was living in her car and was wrestling with the choice of returning to her trafficker. We were able to encourage her to continue her journey of healing but only after supplying the tangible resource of paying her month’s rent. Now she has a safe place to live while she looks for a job. You did that! Your support and prayers provided her a safe place to call home.
Tuition, therapy, mentoring, case management, rent, food, diapers and encouragement – are all resources we provide at Courage House Too here in Northern California and at Courage House Tanzania, as well as case management for former residents. We had been operating the over 18 home at the Northern California rural ranch where minors were once housed. However, our over 18’s needed to be located closer to a populated area with access to colleges, daycare and job opportunities. So in order to do just that and alleviate debt, we have sold the ranch and leased a home that can house up to 6 residents with 2 of their children. This transition, from providing a state licensed home for minors to over 18’s in California, has been an extremely easy one for our organization. It is such a joy re-connecting with former residents and ascertaining their needs as they pursue their dreams while providing resources to accelerate their plans. Sadly, some former residents have made choices that have put themselves in dangerous situations and require relocation to our safe house as well as extensive services to stabilize them emotionally. Still, serving the over 18 population has proven less regulatory than our home for minors. Now we are able to function as a ministry executing the dream God put on our heart 10 years ago. However, we are not abandoning children in the U.S. There is a high demand for documented, results-driven programs for children who have been sold for sex. Courage Worldwide continues to finalize the prototype of our minors program, collaborating with other states to open more of these homes.
In addition to the prototype, Courage Worldwide continues to train communities on how to fight this evil and provide resources for its victims.
Our days are busy and our hearts are full. Thank you again for all your past support. We prayerfully ask that you consider Courage Worldwide for your yearend giving as we continue our work with these vulnerable individuals. Thank you and Merry Christmas.
Jenny Williamson, CEO
Courage Worldwide, Inc.