Free the Girls

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Since September, El Salvador has been getting ready for Christmas. In a country with no Halloween and no Thanksgiving to celebrate, Christmas is a really big deal and people start decorating months in advance. Like everyone else, we are getting ready for Christmas too! At MTES, Christmas is a huge opportunity for us to serve others because most of the men, women, and children involved in our ministries have no family to celebrate with this Christmas. We believe that God has called us to step in and share some joy with our friends this season. This year we are going to be celebrating Christmas with children who have no family or cannot safely be with their family, women and girls who have survived human trafficking, the community served by the […]

A Third Too Many

This weekend our newspaper reported a sobering and disturbing statistic about girls in El Salvador. At latest count, thirty percent of all pregnancies in El Salvador are to girls under the age of 15. That is roughly 1 out of every 3. The text under the headline reported that many of the cases are rapes. You can read the report in Spanish here. This is terrible news for girls. The reality is that girls in El Salvador are in crisis. They are vulnerable to rape, abuse, and trafficking. These girls leave school and enter a cycle of poverty that is virtually impossible to break.  A third of all pregnancies to girls under 15 is a third too many. Unfortunately the news isn’t much better for boys. Tori had to do […]

Something to Celebrate

Yesterday we had a beautiful celebration for our three Quinceañeras (15 year old girls). In this culture, turning 15 is a big deal and communities and churches join together to celebrate the life of the girl turning 15. In many cases, whole communities pitch in to sponsor different parts of the fiesta…a friend may sponsor some of the food, a family member may pay for balloons, a neighbor might provide plates and silverware. When we heard that three of the young survivors we work with would be 15 all in the same timeframe, we knew that we had to celebrate! It was an amazing thing for us to see our donors both in the U.S. and in El Salvador surround these girls with love and form a community of support for them […]

Party Time!

Part of our work in El Salvador includes offering resources to women and girls who are human trafficking survivors. We have several initiatives to serve them and to help them build a better future. We recently discovered that several of the girls we work with will be turning 15 all within the same timeframe and so we’ve decided that it’s time to party! Turning 15 is a really big deal in El Salvador and a 15th birthday celebration is called a Quinceañera.  For many girls in El Salvador (and throughout Latin America), turning 15 is a much bigger party then even a wedding celebration. These girls who have survived the horror of human trafficking have no family or community to celebrate this important moment in their lives. We want to do […]

The Face of Human Trafficking in El Salvador

On Saturday morning I opened the newspaper and began to read the local stories…immigration, crime, the economy. As I flipped through the paper, it fell open onto a story about the recent arrest of 7 people accused of trafficking underage girls for sex.  Five of them are women, and two of them are men. All of them are young, not much older than their victims. This is the face of human trafficking in El Salvador. These are real traffickers who were selling girls in malls around San Salvador, and on their Facebook pages. A news website reported that one of the men had an album titled “My New Girls” advertising young virgins for sale. The article also reported the disgusting fact that the victims were forced to fake their virginity […]

A Roof Over Our Heads…

It’s Thursday afternoon just before 2 o’clock and it’s a typical day at the center…hot, humid, and loud. There is a young survivor of human trafficking in the office meeting with me about starting her own business selling bras. Another girl who is already in the program waits to buy another bag of bras to sell. Meanwhile Jon is playing checkers with one of our clients in between phone calls. Outside on the sidewalk there are 25 homeless men, women, and teens waiting for the front door to open so they can come into the Lighthouse Project for our Thursday meeting. They are waiting to shower, eat lunch, and meet with our staff. By 2, there will be at least 10 more. A visiting team and our local volunteers are […]

Updating…

It’s definitely time for a quick update. Our internet was iffy for the past few weeks so I haven’t been able to post anything, not to mention we have been running, running, running for days! We are in the homestretch of the school year for the kids which means final projects, tests, and a general wrapping up of 1st and 4th grade. I can’t help it, the last few weeks of the school year are always bittersweet for me. I hate the fact that my kids are growing up so fast, and I am looking forward to having them around all summer. We also have continued to have growth in our ministries with the Lighthouse Project welcoming more homeless men and women each week, and the addition of another girl […]

Mother’s Day Celebration

Yesterday we had a big Mother’s Day celebration with all of the moms who are involved in our programs. We invited all the moms from the Lighthouse Project, as well as the moms involved with the Free the Girls project.  It was great to get all of the girls together and have a fun time with them. They were welcomed at the door by one of our volunteers who dressed in a suit and gave each a rose. Then they came into our “salon” where they got their hair and nails done. After everyone got their makeovers we had some snacks and played a game. We also had a guest speaker, our friend Evelyn, who has a beauty salon here in San Salvador. She shared with the women some reflections […]

Getting Creative

Next week is Semana Santa (“Holy Week”) and everyone goes to the local beaches during the vacation days. Costa del Sol is a popular beach in El Salvador, and next week it will also be the site of an art exhibit featuring original paintings by men, women, and children involved in our programs and ministries. The idea is a creative one, and it was developed by a generous donor and friend who offered to sponsor an exhibit featuring works of art painted by survivors of trafficking, and men and women who have lived on the streets of San Salvador. The artwork will be sold, and the money invested back into our projects. This past week our artist friends have given several painting workshops and we have all worked to help […]

Connecting

When a women is sexually exploited she is entrapped, held down, by lies that are like iron chains. The lies are strong and hard to break and they wrap themselves around her soul. The chains are engraved with words that whisper in the night. You are worthless. Sex is the same as love, and it’s the only love you‘ll get. You deserve to be used. You are alone, and no one cares. You are ugly and utterly unlovable.  The work before us is not to offer trauma counseling, or legal advice. But rather, our work is to support the women as they walk through those processes, and to walk with them further as they struggle to integrate into a normal way of life. We work to build relationships and offer […]

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