September 5, 2017 > Freedom Fighters battle Bay Area human trafficking
Freedom Fighters battle Bay Area human trafficking
By Bethany Woo
Few citizens are aware that the Bay Area, specifically Alameda County, has become a major hub for human trafficking. The Fremont-based Freedom Fighters have partnered with the nonprofit organization Freedom House to envision The Beacon, an emergency shelter for women fleeing from their traffickers.
To raise money for The Beacon, the Freedom Fighters will host a multi-family yard sale on Saturday, September 16 at Fremont Community Church, 39700 Mission Blvd. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Along with refreshments there will be fun activities for kids, including face-painting and a bounce house.
The Beacon will help stabilize women immediately after they are freed from commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, or forced labor. It will act as a Òsafe houseÓ to provide short-term housing and services. To protect trafficking victims, the facilityÕs location will be undisclosed to the public.
For survivors who might benefit from a longer-term program, the Beacon will act as a stepping-stone for transition into The Monarch, a residential shelter. When Freedom House opened The Monarch in 2010, it was the first Northern California program of its kind for adult female survivors. The MonarchÕs 18-month program is designed to reintegrate survivors into society by teaching basic life skills, providing therapy, and offering educational resources and employment opportunities.
Karen Borden, leader of the Freedom Fighters Group, and Christine Ingebretson met with Jaida Im, Freedom House founder and executive director, after hearing Im speak about trafficking and The Monarch. ÒI had heard about human trafficking before,Ó Borden observed, Òbut I didnÕt really feel like I could personally do something to make a difference. After meeting Jaida, I set up an appointment with her, and we started talking.Ó They agreed on the need for an emergency shelter for newly rescued survivors, and the idea for The Beacon was born.
Freedom Fighters not only work with police to identify traffickers, but also engage in public outreach. Borden, for instance, spoke at Santa Clara University about the human trafficking crisis and the organization also arranged for Brian Wo, Co-Founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, to speak at Fremont Community Church. Moreover, several Freedom Fighters have trained to serve at Freedom House as either advocate volunteers or to work directly with survivors. Freedom Fighters continue to gain recognition; Lam Research gave Freedom House a $3,500 grant in April, earmarked for The Beacon.
Freedom HouseÕs mission is to bring Òhope, restoration, and a new life to survivors of human trafficking by providing housing and long-term aftercare.Ó A capital campaign is underway to raise enough money to open The Beacon within the next two to three years. You can help create The Beacon by attending the yard sale and/or donating at www.freedomhousesf.org.
Beacon Yard Sale
Saturday, Sep 16
8 a.m. Ð 2 p.m.
Fremont Community Church
39700 Mission Blvd, Fremont