Tuesday, 06 October 2015 15:39

A Fortress of Safety for Child Victims of Human Trafficking

Written by  Laura Bell
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If there was ever any uncertainty as to whether or not human trafficking happens in America, you can be assured that is it presently attacking not only our nation, but Alabama itself. 

Blanket Fort Hope, a non-profit in our very own River Region area, is fighting against all of 

its forms of horrific exploitation with an emphasis on children and the attacks that they 

have faced. 

This non-profit began January 2015 when the organization could not find anyone in the state of Alabama providing shelter for child trafficking victims and could no longer sit still.  When talking to Alexa James, Vice President/Co-founder of Blanket Fort Hope, she shared some shocking truths about what is happening here and why we are so uninformed as to what is going on around us.  Alexa explains, “Human trafficking is the second largest criminal activity and the fastest growing crime.  Human trafficking occurs when a person compels someone else to engage in a commercial or sex act.  While no one knows with certainty the exact number of human trafficking victims, we do know that this crime can happen anywhere and is happening everywhere in the world.  Children around the world are victims, including children in Alabama.  It is not a new idea in practice; however, it is a new concept to the law.  In the United States, the first federal law that made this activity a crime was passed in the year 2000.  In Alabama, the first state law against human trafficking was passed in 2010.  Blanket Fort Hope has answered the call to bring these children home.  As anti-trafficking responses are organized at the national, state, and local levels, we begin to identify gaps in how we are addressing the problem.”

There are plenty of systems and agencies involved in this anti-trafficking response, including law enforcement, courts, and service-provider organizations.  How will all of these entities be organized and begin to work as one to address the problem? Blanket Fort Hope will help meet this need by providing education and training to the many groups involved.   They are striving to work as one team with a common goal in order to achieve the efficiency and effectiveness needed to identify trafficking situations, prosecute the perpetrators, and provide services to the victims.  Blanket Fort Hope will seek to help carry the substantial load currently shouldered by government agencies, law enforcement, and service-providers.  The perpetrators of human trafficking are often very organized, so anti-trafficking efforts must involve organized collaboration in order to be effective.

Blanket Fort Hope has a vision that is quite simple: To be a fortress of safety for child victims of human trafficking, forging a path of purpose and hope for our children.  Blanket Fort Hope is the only service for child victims of human trafficking in Alabama and in the Southeast.  They have partnered with agencies in Alabama and the nation in order to help the children.  Collaboration is the key to ending human trafficking, and education and prevention are at the top of their list.  They are on the ground teaching and partnering with statewide social workers, NASW, judges and courts, churches, schools, Sav A Life, abortion clinics, tattoo parlors and more!

When I asked Alexa where Blanket Fort Hope has seen God move the most in their ministry, her answer was chilling.  “In our short existence, we already have our first foundation monies, were invited by Jr. League of Birmingham to apply for the Beeson grant, and possibly partner on our education initiative.  We had a foundation on a national level ask us to apply, which is so unheard of this early in the game. We KNOW God wants these children home.  We have partnered with Market Town Coffee Company, a local coffee company that gives their profits to organizations fighting human trafficking.  God gave us two locations, one in Shelby County and one in Prattville.  So many doors have been opened for us, doors only the Father could open.  We are amazed!”

Alexa explained two different ways in which Blanket Fort Hope is raising money.  So far, their most effective and fun way of fundraising is through something they like to call “The Lemonade Stand Campaign”.  The purpose of the Lemonade Stand Campaign is to raise funds for Blanket Fort Hope (BFH) to open a Children’s Home for child trafficking victims and to educate children, and professionals who work with children, about human trafficking. The first LSC was introduced only weeks ago through a Centerpoint Church tailgate party in Prattville.  On October 6 they will set up the LSC at National Night Out in Shelby County. (National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live).

In closing, Alexa shares, “By making an intentional investment with national and local agencies, law enforcement, and the general public, Blanket Fort Hope will identify child victims and provide them safety through homes, services, and long-term commitment--offering them healing, restoration, and the opportunity to thrive.  We envision a world where children are not disposable, but rather invaluable.  Our communities need hope that today we can choose a different path besides one where countless children are preyed upon and exploited.  We are excited about expanding the idea across our country and world that collaboration and strong commitment can positively change the course of these childrens’ lives forever.”

If you desire to get involved with Blanket Fort Hope to help their mission and their cause, there should be no hesitation to call them.  They are always looking for volunteers to help in any way!


Blanket Fort Hope, 205-532-3048
or find them on Facebook at Blanket Fort Hope!

 

Laura Bell is a freelance writer, born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama.  She enjoys spending time with her husband Cody and finding all reasons to have joy in life! 

 

Last modified on Friday, 09 October 2015 09:06

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