Groups aim to bring awareness to human trafficking
Posted November 30, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — A Durham-based ministry and a Raleigh church are teaming up to let others know about human trafficking and to raise money to help child victims.
Transforming Hope Ministries and Ekklesia Church at Raleigh will offer a screening of the 2007 movie, "Trade," Dec. 8 at 6:45 p.m. at Mission Valley Cinemas in Raleigh.
The movie is a fictionalized account of a 13-year-old girl kidnapped and sold by sex traffickers in the United States.
But human trafficking is anything but fiction.
Organizers say that, in the U.S. alone, sex trafficking is a $9 billion industry, and North Carolina ranks eighth on the FBI's list of states most likely for trafficking violations.
"The issue of human trafficking is one of the great tragedies of our society right now," C.J. Stephens, a pastor at Ekklesia, said. "One of the biggest problems is that people don't even know that it exists."
Although the film screening is free, the church and Transforming Hope are seeking donations to benefit a shelter called Emma's Home, set to open in July 2012, for formerly trafficked girls.
"We want to get them out of that world and give them a safe place, somewhere they can heal," Transforming Hope co-founder Abbi Tenaglia said.
Dave Brown, who sits on the organization's board, says he knows the toll that human trafficking can take on someone.
His wife of 10 years, Brenda, was traded sexually for drugs from the time she was 6 years old until she was a teenager. After years of dealing with emotional turmoil, he said, she committed suicide in 2002.
"It ruined her life," Brown said. "She was in many ways – and it is hard to describe – sort of an emotional equivalent to someone who has been hit by a train."
The experience, he said, has motivated him to reach out to others.
"They're victims," Brown said, "and what I would love to see is that they actually become survivors.