Human trafficking is not just an issue faced outside of the USA. Unfortunately, it is a real issue in our own communities.
Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project began shortly after professional staff at Wedgwood Christian Services helplessly watched as a child they knew and had cared for was trafficked and exploited in Grand Rapids. Despite all our efforts to find her and offer aid, we were unable and ill equipped at the time to address her needs and trauma.
Unwilling to have this happen again, we began to research the issue of Sex Trafficking, both globally and locally, while developing relationships with anti-trafficking organizations and law enforcement agencies in West Michigan, and from there, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project began.
To address this growing trend in West Michigan, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project was developed to both aid victims and to educate the community on human trafficking. Providing awareness and education around this topic is one of the many steps necessary to ending sexual exploitation of children.
Our public awareness strategy has 3 components:
1. We educate social workers, and educators, and members of the judicial system (judges, probation officers, police officers, etc.), on this issue. We see these public servants as first responders.
2. We empower our youth to recognize sex trafficking in their community through education on this issue, thus reducing their risk for victimization. We also focus on educating high-risk populations through special groups.
3. We invite churches, local social groups, organizations, institutions of higher learning, and businesses to raise awareness and funding for anti-sex trafficking programming and we collaborate with these groups to find solutions for our community.
Take Action: Help us Stop This Traffic in one of the following ways:
1. To report a trafficking victim, please call the National Trafficking In Persons Hotline at: 888-373-7888 or Text “Be Free” to 233733
2. For more resources and information on this topic, or to offer your support, visit the Manasseh Project.
3. To request a speaker/workshop or to volunteer in the Grand Rapids area, please contact: Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project Coordinator Nikeidra DeBarge
Nikedira DeBarge is the Project Coordinator for the Manasseh Project of Wedgwood Christian Services in Grand Rapids.