Mission 21 shares the story of Andrea, one of the survivors they served during the organization’s time in the Shared Hope Partners Program. Read Monday and Wednesday’s post to catch up on the rest of the Mission 21 story as they graduate from our Partners Program!
When Andrea was first referred to our program she was 14 years old and in a group home. A youth worker at the home heard about sex trafficking and recognized some red flags with this young girl when she decided to call Mission 21 for assistance.
Andrea, who liked to be called “Heaven” was missing school a lot and staying with an older boyfriend who took care of her needs. What she didn’t disclose right away was that she also had to exchange sex for money to hand over to this man that took advantage of her vulnerabilities. Andrea’s current life situation presented several vulnerabilities: being a member of a busy home with little attention or constant negative attention, a struggling single mom and cultural and language barriers stemming from an immigrant family who came to the States when she was a little girl. Now, growing up as an “all-American” kid, her mother could not relate to her need to fit in with her peers. The constant fighting drove Andrea to run away and, not having much incentive to go back home, to stay away.
After years on the run and being in the life she became pregnant and decided with the help of Mission 21, and a very dedicated social worker, that she wanted to change her course. She began going to school and made up her lost credits all while being a great single mom. She graduated this summer with her Diploma from a local high school. We wish that that was the beginning of a happy continuance of her story.
Last month, at the age of 17, Andrea showed up at our Advocacy Center with baby in tow. Her mom had kicked her out of the house and she was sleeping in a friend’s car for a few days. Reaching out to us was her only chance to not feel like her only choice was to go back to “the life” to survive and care for her baby. We are happy to provide her and her little one a safe place to stay with a licensed supportive care family that will help her navigate this season of her life. We are confident that this minor setback will just help to make her testimony stronger that victims of sex trafficking can recover and succeed no matter what life throws their way. But without this option, this could’ve made it more difficult for her to continue to move forward. We are thankful for the opportunity to provide specialized supportive homes to youth in our program and consistent supportive people around survivors to encourage and build up confidence and resiliency.