The average age of entry into sex-trafficking in Arizona is just over 14 years of age. Young girls are recruited or kidnapped and brought into sex slavery through many channels -- while some are from good homes, many have abuse at home or are part of a foster system which has moved them from home to home. Once under the control of a pimp, children are sold and sexually assaulted thousands of times over a period of years.
Many of the children have been living on the streets or close to it. They are accustomed to doing whatever it takes to survive and in many cases are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
HEAL International Program
During the last year in Arizona, HEAL International has worked with over one-hundred girls between 11-18 years of age who have been trafficked. They are hard. They are fierce. They are funny. They are brilliant. And they share common beliefs. Beliefs born from their experience of their past: they don't believe that they matter. They don't believe that they are important. They don't believe that they deserve to be loved.
HEAL International's programs are designed to empower children who have experienced trafficking to see that they can have a new future -- a future free from their past. Our programs are designed to enable girls to create a new view of themselves and their experience of the world. And our programs deliver essential sexual health and wellness training and education.
Through HEAL's program, thousands of at-risk children in Guadalupe, Arizona, and between 100-200 girls who have experienced trafficking receive empowerment, education, and support over the last ten years. Perhaps most importantly, they have someone who listens to them. Someone who sits quietly with them on the hard days. Someone who loves them when they don't love themselves.
HEAL International's program is designed to make a difference for children who don't have reason to hope for their future.
Specifics of HEAL's program:
* Two trained outreach facilitators at 20 hours each per week
* Service in Guadalupe is an after-school program at the Pascua Yacqui Tribal Building, two days per week
* Service for trafficked children is located at a safe house in West Phoenix. Four service sessions are offered per week
* About one-hundred (100) trafficked Eleven to seventeen (11-17) year-old American girls annually
* About ninety (90) at-risk youth aged seven to seventeen (7-17) in Guadalupe, Arizona
Service population characteristics:
* Trafficked girls deal with sexual trauma and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
* Trafficked girls deal with substance addiction and require comprehensive care
* Children in Guadalupe deal with early sex and pregnancy, exposure to gangs, and drug involvement
Other sources of support for this program:
HEAL is currently funding this program through a $5,000 annual grant from Aunt Rita's Foundation and private donations.