*photo from universe.byu.edu
The outreach on Sunday was a true testament of love and collaboration. O.U.R. was invited by Care Cuts and Salt Lake Rescue Mission to partner in the Easter outreach. The Salt Lake Rescue Mission has been providing outreach on Easter for more than 20 years. Care Cuts is a local Utah nome profit who provides haircuts, makeovers, and clothes several times a year to those living on the streets. O.U.R. strongly believes in aftercare and street outreach which sometimes also includes prevention. We spoke with several women who identified themselves as in need of help due to the sexual exploitation they experience on the streets. Many of the women asked questions about keeping their children safe, who to call if one of their friends is being trafficked, and expressed their desire to create safer streets.
Our team talked with many men who are homeless about how they can be advocates and protect women and children on the streets. The men were so grateful to receive education on how to identify human trafficking! They felt like they were empowered to know the signs, what questions to ask and how to help keep their street safer. When we meet the practical needs of our friends on the streets through the hygiene kits, food, and toys for the children it allows us to build relationships. These are also practical tools for the victims and survivors that are currently homeless and empowering men to protect those who are currently on the streets. One man who is homeless said, “I have $2 in my pocket and want to give it to O.U.R.” I responded with, “You being an advocate to keep others safe from sexual exploitation is priceless!” Shortly after that man left, an eight-year-old girl who is staying at a local shelter said, “Thank you so much for giving me this toy. I wouldn’t have had anything to play with today on Easter.” Her mom told us that their backpacks and hygiene kit were recently stolen and she’s seen women become vulnerable to traffickers based on survival. With tears in her eyes, she said, “It’s just nice to know someone cares enough to come be with us during this challenging time.”
O.U.R. Aftercare Director
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