Two years of waiting. Two years of working long shifts at a factory in Michigan. Two years of paperwork, delays, anticipation, studying, training, and lots of prayer that everything would finally fall in place. This week it actually did.
My second college roommate and, very, very good friend, moved to Toledo, Ohio this week to work as a house mom for girls rescued from sex trafficking. She was hired for the position with the expectation that the living facility for the girls would be completed in less than a year. That year turned into two as proper licensing and construction took longer than expected. But, the doors of The Daughter Project are finally ready to open and my roommate posted on her blog on Thursday that she loves her job and has been busy training with the art therapy program, partnering horse farm, and nutritional team. The Daughter Project is already in the process of accepting their first girl with many more to follow.
It’s sad that a country like America needs homes like The Daughter Project, but it does. According to US Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry just after drug trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 millions adults and children are human traffic victims. Out of that number, 1.4 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude. One of the saddest statistics is that the average age of a trafficked victim is between 12 and 14 years old. 56% of victims are women or girls and 40-50% of trafficked victims are children.
In the US, Ohio ranks 5th for having the most trafficked victims right behind Texas, California, Florida, and Minnesota. Toledo, Ohio is the third worst US city when it comes to trafficking. Many victims are blackmailed or tricked into a lifestyle they never intended to choose. Some have run away from home and past painful experiences, but others look more like the girl next door forced into a violent lifestyle at the threat of harm to herself or her family.
Even after the girls are rescued, rehabilitation is far from simple which is where The Daughter Project comes in. The hope is to provide a safe place for the girls to heal a stable, nurturing home. It has been a long wait. I’ve had the privilege of getting to see some of the process, through my friend’s eyes, as it has come together.
Even though the wait was often frustrating, especially when not having the doors open meant not being able to help girls who could benefit from the facility, my friend said that God has taught her a lot during the waiting season. Lessons that she now sees as invaluable as she prepares to mentor and nurture girls from very rough backgrounds.
Sometimes, I think the waiting period is the hardest one to get through. Seeing everything finished is exciting. Seeing people’s lives begin to change is humbling and beautiful, but waiting, waiting for it all to start can feel like forever. I’m learning that life is more of a marathon than a sprint, and many times you do just have to hang on tightly until the next season starts to turn. When it does turn and all of the waiting is rewarded, I suppose it makes the outcome just that much sweeter.