Every 2 minutes another child is forced into sex trafficking according to UNICEF andthe U.S. State Department projects 2010 will see human trafficking become the second largest crime worldwide.
One organization that is committed to putting an end to this crime against humanity is International Crisis Aid (www.crisisaid.org). ICA founder/president Pat Bradley has long been dedicated to spearheading an assault on the trafficking industry by offering the girls trapped in it a way out. Every chance he gets, Pat goes to Addis Ababa’s Red Light District looking for likely girls to rescue. His reputation has grown and word of his purpose is spreading. Very often in the past, by the time he left with his newest “Ethiopian daughter,” others had gathered their few belongings and come to him begging to go too. Although it broke his heart, he had to turn them away because there was nowhere to put them.
The silent promise he made to be back for them is what has motivated him to keep praying and working tirelessly to expand the program despite budget constraints and powerful opposition.
Today, ICA has a total of 7 homes in Ethiopia and has rescued 130 girls.
Not long into the SAFE program Pat realized that in order to achieve his goal of reaching as many as possible of the more than 40,000 girls engaged in the sex trade in Addis Ababa, more aggressive measures were needed. To be effective, there had to be more direct and continuous contact with victims of the sex trade.
With that in mind, in February of 2010 ICA purchased a building in the RLD itself. It wasn’t until after the property was bought that Pat learned the building had previously been used as a brothel.
Thanks to a dedicated crew of volunteers, this former brothel has a new face and a new purpose: church, counseling center and vocational training center.
The miraculous transformation of the property is a beautiful picture of its intended use.
Instead of only reaching a handful whenever possible, tens of thousands of girls forced to sell their bodies to survive now have open and continual access to a pathway to a better life.
The Mercy Chapel Vocational Center offers classes in hair dressing, silk screen painting, sewing, and computer training to give girls marketable skills that will allow them to create a legitimate livelihood.
The first seven girls in the program graduated in December of 2009. They now live on their own and ‘give back’ by devoting their time and talents to helping ICA reach out to those in need.
The success in Ethiopia has led Pat to start a pilot program in Haiti and ICA has plans to open a SAFE home in St. Louis, MO. Visit www.crisisaid.org to find out how you can help.
Author of Where There Is No Comfort: Seven Days in Ethiopia