When Gabriele’s drug addicted mother was desperate for money, she sold her daughter’s virginity to an old man. After that Gabriele was sold to several men each day. If she refused, her mother beat her.
Eventually Gabriele took to the streets. A local social worker connected her with the non-profit organization Love146 and now she is living safely at their rehabilitation center called the Round Home. There, she’s on the path to recovery.
Human slavery is illegal in every country, but it still exists in staggering numbers.
According to the groundbreaking book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales, there are 27 million slaves in the world today. They answer advertisements for jobs only to end up as unpaid servants, restaurant workers, or prostitutes. They cross borders for opportunity, only to be held in debt bondage. They contract for factory jobs or farm work only to find they’re unable to leave or contact their families. The cost of liberating them is estimated at eleven billion dollars spent over several decades. This is a small expenditure to preserve human freedom. In fact, it’s a fraction of the cost California will be spending to build a high-speed rail system.
The organization approaches this horrifying problem through prevention awareness, professional training, and empowering modern-day abolitionists. Then they go a step further by providing survivor care, helping to heal the physical and emotional trauma of children who have been rescued from child trafficking.
In the Philippines, Love146 operates what’s called the Round Home. It’s a residence designed to be restorative, a colorful place designed in a circle without corners or sharp edges, made of strong concrete that lets them feel safe. Therapy sessions are held in a tree house. Children draw, play music and games, garden, and make friends while also catching up in their education.
I learned about Love146 from a post by author and activist Jamie Martin. She’s written several books about intentional parenting including Steady Days, Mindset for Moms, and The Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide. She blogs at Steady Mom as well as Simple Homeschool. When I talked with her, Jamie was setting off with her kids to spend several weeks in the Philippines along with her husband Steve, who is one of the CEO’s of Love146.
When I emailed to ask more about the program she explained that there have been too few safe places for victims of child trafficking and too little follow-up care to reintegrate children back into their homes and communities. The Round Home and its aftercare programs are working to fill that need. On this trip, Jamie’s children have been visiting kids at the Round Home. She says,
Our kids have been able to interact and play in a safe environment with children who have been rescued from trafficking. It’s pretty profound as a parent to overhear their giggles and watch them do the things that kids globally love to do together–like drawing and building with Lego. On this trip our kids have also come into contact with real-life extreme poverty for the first time, and that has made an impact and led to a lot of conversations about why we’re here and why it matters.
Jamie is raising money to buy books for the children at the Round Home. Her fundraiser aims to fill the small library there, and if there’s money left over it will help to fund other costs for the girls’ education including school supplies and tutors. I’m supporting them by donating. Then I’m going to find out more about becoming an advocate for abolition.
My idea of a safe home is where we nurse the bird’s broken wing. If we do well with our nursing, then the bird should be able to fly again, out of the safe home, and soar to the heights it was meant to reach. ~ Dr. Gundelina Velazco, Love146 Director of Aftercare