In a country where close to 30% of the population are living below the poverty line, the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development estimates that there are up to 200,000 children on the streets of Manila, and that at least one tenth are or become victims of human trafficking. They also estimate that the annual average increase of prostituted children is 3,266 per year. Tragically, the Philippines ranks fourth in the world in terms of countries with the highest number of prostituted children (humantrafficking.org Philippines). It’s effect on the innocence of impoverished children is heart-breaking.
Olivia [name changed for privacy and protection] was forced by her own mother into prostitution to help support her younger siblings. When she got pregnant and her mother was put in prison, she was referred to The Blessed House. There was a time she would sneak out of the shelter and go back to prostitution because that’s her only way of providing for her baby and siblings. After much counselling, being surrounded by a loving and supportive community, Olivia has shown much growth. Recently, her baby celebrated her 2nd birthday. Staff are seeing her increasingly making better choices for her and her daughter’s lives. She is seeking to be a good mom and sister to her younger siblings. With what she learned in the sewing program, she made a Snow White dress for her daughter. These pictures encourages us how the cycle of abuse can be broken and replaced with a life of dignity.
The Blessed House is currently the home to 19 young women and children who are all survivors of trafficking and abuse. The Blessed House is providing them with safety, education and a bright future. Thank you to those who support this amazing project. Because of you, dignity and restoration is available to women and children.
While this pandemic has tied down majority of us in our homes, the young women at The Blessed Project have found ways to make their time at the shelter worthwhile and fruitful. One of them, Jean (name changed for protection and privacy), shares her experience.
From a Trafficking Survivor to a Confident and Inspiring Woman
Andi [name changed for privacy and protection] was rescued from trafficking by International Justice Mission (IJM) and referred to the Blessed House in 2017. During the past few years, she has gone through counselling, confidence building and learning skills that she can rely on to earn an income. She is now strong and confident and able to move out of the Blessed House and reintegrate into the community. She successfully secured a scholarship to finish her studies and is continuing to support herself through her job at the Blessed House's Sewing Enterprise. She is also one of the facilitators of the Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign (HTAC) with the microfinance groups. She spends time and engages with the mothers - answering their questions about human trafficking and encouraging them to fight it.
Via was only a few months old when her mother died of cancer. She longed to study but because of poverty, she wasn’t able to go to school. Her father would take naked pictures of her while taking a bath. She wasn’t sure for what purpose the pictures were, but it went on for a couple of months.
The Blessed Project's Sewing Enterprise in the Philippines focuses on two core objectives: (1) sustainability and (2) skills training to prepare young women for employment. Jelyn’s story is just one of the many success stories the program has witnessed and wishes to witness as this social enterprise grows.
Most victims of cybersex are young children who aren't even aware that they are being abused. The work that our partners do is crucial in coming alongside them in realizing they are being abused and that there is help. The Blessed Project exists to help rehabilitate young women and girls who have fallen prey to traffickers and the online world of cybersex.