You and I were blessed to celebrate our freedom and independence this weekend. We often take our precious freedom for granted and forget about the 20+ million people in the world who are desperate for the freedom you and I enjoy everyday. These are the people desperate to break free from sexual slavery, forced labor, and exploitation.

At Willow, we are charged with helping women and girls escape sexual slavery. Our rescue scenarios vary greatly as human trafficking looks different for each victim in its wake. In Uganda, poverty, unemployment, and death of parents are among the most common reasons that women and girls are left vulnerable to trafficking. We see parents conned into sending their children away with strangers with the hope of work that will feed them, orphans coerced into prostitution by family or village members who view them as burdens, teens tricked into going to “school” or taking “jobs” in the city – only to be forced into sexual slavery. We rescue bright young women, once small business owners, so eager to lift their extended families out of poverty that they’ve sold what little belongings or prospects they had in pursuit of a better life. Futures are stolen from such women as they hand over their livelihoods only to be forced to sell their bodies against their will.

As each girl we encounter shares her experience with our team, we learn of more unique inconceivable atrocities. Partnerships with international organizations and continued outreach with city, community, and village leaders lead us to our survivors. Removing a victim from captivity is always a unique challenge but is only the start of leading a victim to freedom.

Even after a survivor is rescued, the road to achieving independence is a long one. Research indicates that severe trauma leaves a neurochemical mark that can be discerned in every system of the body. The impact of this sort of trauma is more pervasive than most of us can imagine.

Survivors of human trafficking need and deserve long-term, high-level care in order to heal and gain the coping skills and confidence to break free from the chains of trauma and exploitation forced upon them. At Willow, we honor freedom as a complete process- from initial rescue all the to way through full recovery effort. We are dedicated to providing the best care available in order to make true independence a reality for our survivors. With your help, we can offer this freedom more girls. We can give independence back to those who have had their basic human rights and dignity stolen.

“To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored”.
– Isaiah 61:3