We all know the feeling. A loved one is expecting a baby. There’s likely a baby shower with pretty food and loads of gifts. As the day comes closer, Mom and Dad finish up the nursery and prepare for their little bundle of joy! Baby’s almost here. Nothing will ever be the same! Those first few months are so precious. Mom is home with baby, gently getting to know her, feeding her, waiting for her first smile. Dad takes some time off to nest with his growing family. There’s some stress, but joy and laughter, snuggles and sweet bedtime stories become the norm. Unfortunately, not everyone’s story goes like this. There are moms and babies in unspeakable situations – about as far as you can get from this scenario. Here’s their back story… In Chicagoland alone, there are an estimated 16-25,000 women and girls being illegally trafficked for sex. Up to 70% of these women have children. Their loneliness, their love for their children and desperation to provide may have made them vulnerable to the manipulation and exploitation of traffickers. Or they may have become a Mom as a result of being forced to sell their body. The damage to the Mom’s body, soul, and spirit is horrific. Worse yet, the children are often neglected, exposed to dangerous situations, and sold too. It’s almost impossible for these Moms to get out – first, to escape from the control of a trafficker, then to find a job and affordable childcare. If she is referred to a residential trafficking recovery program, she can’t bring her children. She wants out, but will continue to suffer to avoid homelessness or being separated from her children. On top of all this, she’s been brainwashed to believe her worth is only as a body for sex. But, we know that’s a lie. Every one of these women and their precious children are worth so much more. We know they deserve a chance to have a safe, normal and happy life. They deserve a home with a clean bed, locks on the doors, food in the pantry, and a roof over their head. They deserve a chance to break this cycle. We are stepping up to help! Stepping Stones Network is creating a residential program where Moms and their pre-pubescent children can rest, recover, and rebuild their lives—TOGETHER! Located in Lake County, it’s the first of its kind -- a place where Mom and child can find a normal life, where instead of daily suffering and nightly terror, there is joy and laughter, snuggles and sweet bedtime stories. The doors are opening July 8 and we need to raise $30,000 more to support the children’s practical and developmental needs, childcare, and specialized medical and emotional support required to help the children heal. Can you help? Please share with your friends and family by directing them here: http://www.steppingstonesnetwork.org/protectkids
Our mission is to educate and engage the community to prevent domestic (US-based) commercial sexual exploitation and to provide comprehensive, restorative care to survivors. Our vision is to create an engaged and compassionate community where sexual exploitation is not tolerated, human rights and dignity are valued, and the lives of both victims and perpetrators are being restored through God-centered relationships.