I am just really amazed by the organization we've chosen for our September donation recipient, and I am so honored to tell you about them.
I just finished reading a book called Half the Sky which focuses on many issues that women around the globe face. I'll share more about that later but one of those issues is trafficking - when people are taken and forced to do something (often sexual) against their will. We tend to think of trafficking as something that happens in far off places, but we're slowly learning that it is an issue right here at home.
The organization we're donating to this month is relatively new, but is uniquely well-equipped to care for girls ages 10-17 who have been exploited or trafficked. The Retreat Home for Children is a live-in home; a faith-based, welcoming, spacious, healing type of place in the Texas Hill Country that provides restoration, rehabilitation, and healing. It is one of very few places for specialized treatment of trafficking victims, and the only one of its kind in that part of Texas.
The Retreat's founder Brittany Thompson writes, "Our story is the story of a community reaching out to the broken-hearted, the weak and weary, and the one who feels forgotten in order to bring hope and healing for a new life free from violence and exploitation. The story of The Retreat reflects God's story to all of us in Psalm 119:114: 'You are my place of quiet retreat. I wait for your word to renew me.' [Trafficking is] happening here, not just across borders.
Because many cases of child exploitation are never reported, or even noticed, many children suffer for long periods of time, facing harsh conditions, lack of food and clean water, dirty living conditions, lack of contact with their families, and physical and mental abuse. The harsh reality is that young girls are being sex trafficked across all socio-economic, racial, educational and family backgrounds. The primary factor that makes a girl vulnerable to being trafficked is her age.
As the crime of sex trafficking of children gains wider attention, and organizations already working in the juvenile justice system become efficient at identifying children who are victims, the number of children needing specialized services for the trauma of sex trafficking will continue to grow. However, there are currently only a handful of places in the United States where these children can receive the kind of services they need. The Retreat opened in May 2021 and it is the only live-in rehabilitation facility for child survivors of sex trafficking in the Bexar County [San Antonio] area."
As a sexual assault nurse examiner, Brittany saw exploited children leave the hospital with no real home or safe place to go only to be trafficked or exploited again. After some research she found out that there aren't many places equipped to help children therapeutically after they've endured these traumatic events. She felt God's call to change that and got to work.
The Retreat opened in May and is equipped to care for up to 32 girls. Its staff includes professionals from across the physical and mental health spectrum. It is one of only a few places in Texas that will treat young girls who have been sexually exploited or trafficked. "We are considered a residential treatment and assessment center, and we take the highest intense level kiddos. There are very few places that are specialized for identified victims of human trafficking,' Brittany says."
We are incredibly honored to be able to prayerfully and financially support them and their mission.
Read more about The Retreat and its beginning in this article from the San Antonio Beacon.