I live in a world where children are sold for sex. This fact broke my heart, but when I learned children were being sold for sex in my own backyard, I became angry and vowed to do something. So, I decided to learn everything I could about this issue. I read everything on the internet I could find on this evil called sex trafficking. I read the California State Report on Human Trafficking and called the author of the report to verify it was really happening here. I then called the Sacramento Police Department and asked just how bad the problem was. They introduced me to the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force, who told me they had recovered 125 children from the Sacramento area alone – to date that number is now close to 300. I asked what their greatest need was; they simply said “a home – these kids need a safe, loving home”. I vowed to build one. That was in 2008.
Today Courage House, a home for children rescued from sex trafficking, has been open for eighteen months. Twenty-five children have called Courage House their home. Our youngest was twelve years old and our oldest seventeen. I have never been surrounded by so much pain. These children are truly victims of modern day slavery. Their needs are great, and we seek to meet them all at Courage House. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; this evil affects every aspect of their young lives.
Being rescued is only the beginning of their journey. Providing them with an environment that is conducive to healing is vital, but tapping into their dreams is essential. And they do have dreams. They want to be doctors, lawyers, school teachers, moms and photographers, but first, they must do the hard work of confronting their past and their pain. This is not for the fainthearted. These young women are some of the most courageous individuals I have ever met. Two of our Courage Girls testified against their perpetrators in a court of law. I have never seen such a display of courage and grace. They were armed with people who believed in them and their future. They were armed with the truth that they were created on purpose for a purpose and they must fight for their destiny. And they did just that.
Courage House is a home not a program where young victims of sex trafficking can begin to realize that they have value. It is a place where they move from victim to victorious.
It was just a few years ago that I heard about human trafficking. Since then, my own life has changed, and I’ve been blessed to be able to change the lives of the 25 girls that have come through Courage House. I am just one person; so are you. What will you do?