The congregation of First Christian Church in partnership with the Beeville Council of Church Women is grateful for the response of the community to the Eternal Threads gathering sale last week. $1,604 worth of handmade products from women living in extreme poverty in India, Afghanistan, Madagascar and Nepal were sold. The funds will be returned to women and become a continuing stream of income for their business enterprises. In turn, women are empowered to protect their families from the exploitation of human trafficking in both the sex trade and slave trade.
Deputy Rick Villarreal from the Bee County Sheriff’s office presented a report on human trafficking along Highway 59 and Bee County. Eighty percent of human trafficking victims are girls used in the sex trade. Babies and children are born for the specific purpose of being sold. 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. As many as 900,000 men are living as modern day slaves working for less than a few dollars a day and afraid to complain.
Since 2008, the Bee County Sheriff’s Department has been granted more than $1,000,000 to assist ICE in Human Trafficking and Smuggling. Computer equipment, patrol vehicles, salary support and training in recognition of Human trafficking are provided by the federal grants. More than 3,500 persons have been apprehended, detained and/or referred for assistance since 2008. Women and girls are referred to urban areas with healthcare and social service resources to protect them.
Citizens can be part of the system to intervene, rescue and care for exploited persons by being alert and notifying authorities when the behavior of girls, women and men seems fearful or raises flags that something is not right. Deputy Villarreal encouraged the women present to always report suspicious behavior. He, too, was appreciative of the simple program connecting women at risk to a market in this country for their products.
Eternal Threads and all who came to the gathering sale are grateful for those lives who are more safe because of the community we call home.
Eternal Threads Chair, and Rev. Geraldine Huckman