Many people are surprised to learn that over 3000,000 American children are sold in the sex trade each year. When the founders of Selah Freedom learned this they went looking for an organization to support but found none. What began as a grassroots initiative of women from across the country to be a voice for the voiceless has quickly transformed into a thriving organization. Selah Freedom actively confronts the issue of sex trafficking and is being upheld as the statewide model in Florida for how to effectively bring solutions to survivors of sex trafficking & exploitation. Selah is a Hebrew word which means to pause, rest, and reflect. We give survivors a chance to do just that. Women in our programs have an opportunity to dream again; to discover who it is they were created to be. In order to do this, Selah Freedom closely partners with law enforcement, legislators, and influential leaders to not only shed light on the staggering statistics, but also to work together to change those statistics by changing lives! Selah Freedom attacks the problem of sex trafficking from all sides by focusing on four foundational programs: Awareness, Prevention, Outreach, and Residential.
Selah Freedom started our mission in Sarasota, Florida but we are now expanding our operation to serve victims in the Chicago area. Sadly, Chicago is one of the top five cities in America for sex trafficking and even more heartbreaking is that there is currently only a small home for minors and zero beds for those sex trafficking survivors who are over the age of eighteen. Along with passionate advocacy groups such as the JCAST, Chicago has some of the best resources and lawmakers in this area, and experts like the teams at CAASE (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation), The Dreamcatcher Foundation , Stop IT Now and many more, are doing amazing things to provide resources and services. Unfortunately, there are no long term solutions in the city. This means that girls often end up right back in the sex trade, as there is no place for them to go to be safe, heal, and begin a new life. Chicago is such a great city- we are thrilled to be able to open housing here and start making it the solution center it should be.
Our first goal is to raise $280,000 to open the first phase of our residential program, ideally on the north side of the city or Evanston. We have had homes donated in the past- and hope this happens in Chicagoland- a 3-4-bedroom home is all we need to begin, even rent free for just one year is a huge gift- and a great tax write off for the donor. Instantly, six women will be given a new start in life- and the momentum begins to engage the community and grow to accommodate even more.
If you are looking to get involved and help Selah Freedom’s mission, we like to say, “Raise your Voice, Raise your Hand or Raise your Resources!” Right now the greatest help is getting the word out- if you have a venue or group that we can speak to such as a rotary, women’s or men’s groups, junior leagues, or synagogues or churches, and of course- help us financially. Once we are up and running we will have tons of opportunities for hands on volunteers. We need volunteers from tutors to mentors, teaching everything from how to clean a fridge, how to dress, we offer puppy therapy, art therapy, craft classes- horse therapy, music- everything we gave our own children is returned to these precious lives. We need the gifts of every individual to offer them all that was stolen, all of this in addition to the trauma therapy and clinical work we offer.
We could not be more excited to be opening our doors in the Chicago area! The success of our mission depends largely on partnering with local organizations and faith groups in order to raise awareness and community support. We are truly grateful to be joining a community with so many selflessness and compassionate individuals and organizations and cannot wait to start changing lives and bringing Chicago’s sex trafficking victims the fulfilled lives they all deserve.
To learn more about Selah Freedom, visit our website at http://www.selahfreedom.com
~Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, M.A., President/CEO, Selah Freedom