WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita church is partnering with a non-profit group to help fight human trafficking. Life Church presented ICT SOS with a $5,000 grant to help this group fight this ongoing issue here in Wichita and throughout the nation. A portion of the grant will be used to send two Wichita detectives to national training that they can bring back and use locally.
“One of the things we do a lot is what we call our fresh start bag and those are duffel bags that have clothing and hygiene items, a fast food gift card and a few other things,” said Jennifer White, an activist from the program. “So some of the money will help to support that program.”
ICT SOS acts as a liaison between specific professional organizations who work with trafficked youth and adults. Activists say these type of grants create awareness around the issue of human trafficking. KSN spoke with a victim who says she’s glad people are still fighting for the issue.
“I thought I wasn’t getting enough love from my parents or my sisters and I just didn’t feel happy,” explained a woman KSN is only identifying as Lupita, a Wichita human trafficking victim. “I ran away from home twice, the first time I was 15.”
Lupita says being on the streets was scary and eventually it became dangerous.
“I met this guy, I asked him for a cigarette and from there we just started hanging out more and more,” explained Lupita. “Eventually, he started stealing stuff for me like make up, food and clothes so, I felt like I needed him.”
Lupita tells KSN the man became her pimp and not only required her to have sex with him but asked her to have sex with other people as well.
“I knew he was using me,” said Lupita. “At first, I thought he was my friend and then it just got out of control.”
Lupita is one of the many voices of women that have experienced human trafficking right here in our city of Wichita. Law enforcement tells us that over the last few years the numbers of victims have almost tripled but one local organization is stepping up to help victims of human trafficking.
“We have a street outreach team that goes out on the streets and finds our homeless youth and works with them,” said Debbie Kennedy, CEO of Children’s Home.
Debbie says her organization helps homeless youth transition from the streets to independent living.
“Even if it happens to one person, it’s a problem and in our state we are doing phenomenal work,” said Debbie. “There are so many different organizations that are coming together to help each other with exploited youth.”
Lupita was approached by the Children’s Home Street Team and is now living on her own in an apartment. She has a message for other girls who need help.
“Love yourself and even if you’re not happy at home or feel some type of way, stay home,” said Lupita. “Your parents do love you.”
For more information on the Children’s home or if you are interested in donating to this non profit visit their webpage here.\