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Life in DFW

My life as a wife and mom in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and all things fun about it!

Filtering by Tag: human trafficking

Rescue Her's October 'Soap Outreach'

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

If you've read my previous post about my first time volunteering for Rescue Her last month, you would be aware of this thing that we do called Soap Outreach. It's basically a new form of outreach that Rescue Her does involving soaps, stickers, motels, and cookies. So how does it work?  



We visit motels in low-income areas (because unlike hotels, motels give traffickers the ability to pay in cash and even by the hour, so it's easier for them to avoid detection), meet the managers/owners, introduce ourselves and our cause, then help them fight human trafficking alongside us by giving away free soaps! Not just any soap, but premium quality bar soaps with national anti-human trafficking hotline number labeled on them.



We also give them stickers to put on the check-in counter and bathroom mirrors, because who knows, a girl in need might see it and get help asap. This outreach sounds so simple yet the impact could be really powerful and life-changing for these girls. It could help them change their future! And because we do this out of love, we can't forget to give a bag of cookies to each motel manager/owner (even the vegan ones!).



And, we also bring goodie bags filled with beauty products to give to girls that we might find at the motels. Again, we just want to love on them and hopefully let them know that they are beautiful and loved. And to me, this has been a lifelong goal. I am really passionate about letting young girls know that they are loved and beautiful just the way they are.


But the thing is, even though last Friday was my second time volunteering, I still didn't feel comfortable enough to talk, so I stayed in the car most of the time, taking photos and all (which is good for documentation, but still..). Why did I hesitate to go out and talk to motel owners? Because I don't speak a perfect English, and I worried that if I got nervous or excited, I would stutter. This was a ridiculous concern of course, because most of the motel owners don't even speak good English! And on my way home, I was reminded of what Rev. Samuel Rodriguez once said "God is not looking for those who have everything, but those who are willing to give up everything." I don't have to have all the skills, I just have to be willing. Darn, I wish I would've had more courage!




Anyways, my fellow volunteers here, Caren and Noah, did great. Karen is actually a 'veteran', she's done outreach stuff for years, so she knew what to do. Oh, back to the matter of speaking English, sadly, my excuse was the very excuse that many motel owners used to get rid of us. A few of them immediately pretended to be confused or not able to speak English, as soon as we started telling them about our cause.




The second most popular excuse that they used to get rid of us was "the manager is not here" - scenario. Ugh, come on people. Really? Well, maybe they were just too scared to get involved with anything that would threaten their income, I don't know. One of them even turned lights off and just shook her head without even bothering to listen to us. Ouch.




But not every visit went in vain! In fact most of the motels that we visited said yes to the soaps, stickers, and of course the cookies. This guy in the picture above even asked for prayer and gave a hug at the end! So overall, it was a successful night!


Now if you live in DFW and are thinking to get involved, you can donate to Rescue Her or sign up as a volunteer at Rescue Her website. Once you're through with the volunteer application process, you'll start receiving emails about the upcoming events and volunteering opportunities, Soap outreach being one of them (they're planning to do this every month). Reply the email to confirm your attendance. And, on an assigned Friday night, show up on time for the briefing!




At this month's outreach, Brad Carignan was the one in charge to lead us because his wife and the founder of Rescue Her, Josie couldn't be there with us. He split us into two groups,  I went with him, Noah, and these awesome ladies, Hayley, Ashley, and Caren.





Ashley reading the map and writing reports. Yes, you can take turns and stay in the car to write reports while the others talk to the motel owners. Next time, I will make efforts to go and talk to those motel owners/managers. While they're using language barrier as an excuse to ignore the fact that there are 100,000 girls being trafficked in the U.S every year (source : Rescue Her), I will ignore the fact I've still got language barrier to help them realize this sad statistic. Wish me luck! ;)


Fighting Human Trafficking with One Soap at a Time

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Back in April, I joined hundreds of other participants to run the 5K-Race 2 Rescue-Color Run that was filled with fun, music, and sweat. It was my first 5K, first Color Run, and first time ever doing anything to the cause I had been wanting to support for a long time, the fight against human trafficking. When the race was over, I felt moved to do something more. So I applied for a volunteering position at Rescue Her.  



Why did I want to do this? Why did I care?


Growing up in a Southeast-Asian country, human trafficking has always been a familiar subject to me. Moreover, in my younger years, I was friends with people who took advantage of prostituted women. It all seemed so normal to them, so casual, and so harmless. But deep down, I knew better. I might have never been a prostitute, but I've got to a point where I devalued myself way below my true worth in my younger years. I thank God that my future is not determined by my past, and now whenever I look back to those years, I feel the urge to tell younger women that they are worth it. That they are more valuable than they think or they are told they are. That they don't need affirmation from guys to know that they're beautiful.




What's sad is the fact that high-profile pop singers are promoting this self-devaluing with lyrics like "You (men) can have it anyway you like it, anywhere you like it" in chart-topping songs kids sing along to these days. Even top divas like Beyonce encourages girls to base their self-esteem on how good they are in bed and how much money they can make. What a deadly combination ! I did what I did out of choice, out of the desire to be wanted. But those young girls that are being trafficked? They are forced to do way crazier things than what I did, with guys they don't even know and like, by fear and often addiction to drugs that are introduced to them by the pimps. Many also do it for the money, and over time, they will grow numb and they will end up saying that they do this because they want to.


Can something be done about it? Sure! And it might just start with a soap and a sticker.




After waiting for a few months, I finally got the opportunity to volunteer for Rescue Her last Friday night. I started by showing up 6 p.m. for a briefing with the founders, Brad & Josie Carignan.




I was relieved to know that most of the people who showed up were first-time volunteers too. We were told that we were to give away handmade soaps with stickers on them that have got National Human Trafficking Hotline written on them to motels in low-income areas. Why? Because human trafficking-related activities and transactions usually happen there. We also brought cookies to the motel owner/managers, because all we want to do is connect with them and cookies help building the bridge!


Before we left, Brad reminded us that pimps and dealers are usually armed, so...we gotta be careful. We left our stuff at the office, carrying only our phones and driver's licenses. That's why I didn't take that many photos, I didn't know if it was safe enough. Maybe next time I'll take better photos :) We were also told to pray short prayers with our eyes open, whenever somebody asked us to pray for them. And, if our 'watcher', who stood by the car, called us to get back to the car, we must drop everything we're doing and get back immediately. I was like, wow, this is for real. I have only seen such images of American pimps and dealers in movies. Never seen them for real, so I was kinda excited! We split into 2 groups and carpooled to the motels.




I took the following photo from inside the car. It was the first motel we went to. It was not scary when we first got here because the sun was still up, but it got pretty scary after the sun went down ( we spotted a car that looked suspicious stopping in front of a room, a guy approaching our car and all). However, the owner was very receptive towards the idea of putting the soaps in the bathrooms, he asked for like 20 soaps!




Of course not every motel owner liked the idea. So we got some 'No's' too. But I learned a lot from this experience, especially through how the Rescue Her founder, Josie interacted with the people she met in the motels. She was very compassionate towards them. There was no fear, no judgement, just love. And that's how I think we oughta look at people, no matter who they are and what they do. And no matter what they think of us!

Now, we were encouraged to ask people if they needed us to pray for them, but not everyone said yes. There was this guy who actually said "No. I got enough problems. I've tried that before." He might have been disappointed by Christians who didn't show him love in the past, or life might have been so tough on him, I don't know. All I know is that he is loved too, and we just gotta keep him in our prayers.




We went to a few other sketchy motels, and we were able to give away 250 soaps in total! A few motel owners also put the stickers on their check-in window rightaway! It was quite a successful night. We did pray for some people and all motel owners got cookies (even the vegan ones)! We finally wrapped up at 9.30 p.m. and Mr.Man + J picked me up at the Rescue Her office promptly.


I was tired, but very happy, knowing that what I just did might one day help a young girl who is stuck in a motel room, abused and helpless.


There's something so fulfilling about doing something for others. I guess that's because it's what we're meant to do. After all, this life is too short to live it just for me.



If you know or see or are a young girl who is being prostituted, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline : 1 (888) 373-7888  or Text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733.








Fighting Human Trafficking in Color : Race 2 Rescue 2015

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

With the growing trend of socially conscious businesses (by which we get to buy a bottle of water to save a kid in Africa, a pair of shoes to feed kids in Argentina and so on), I sometimes wonder, are these "good causes" legit? Or are they just gimmicks? Because you can see it everywhere right? Food companies are starting to label their products with words like 'all-natural' (very ambiguous in my opinion) and 'thoughtfully-sourced' (what does that even mean? it's not organic, it's not non-gmo, what is it?? very misleading!), and even fast-food restaurants are now adding words like 'hand-cut' and 'house-prepared' in describing their menus, just to make them sound "better". Anyway, so... back in February, when my friend told me about a 5K run that will help fight human trafficking, I wasn't sure if I was interested. I mean how are they going to do it anyway? Is this even a real issue? However, not so long after, I found a video about how porn has a lot to do with human trafficking and how sadly, more and more women are watching it (thanks to 50 Shades of Grey, that makes something as freaky as BDSM seem romantic, when it's not), I decided to check out this 5K run by Rescue Her that turned out to be called Race 2 Rescue. When I found out that it was going to be a color run, I was excited. When I then found out about how they'd use the money raised to run a safe house for girls in India, I was moved. But then when I found out about how they reach out to local young women in DFW to give them free makeovers and teach them about self-esteem so they won't allow people to take advantage of them? I was ready to sign up as a volunteer! I mean, oh my God, how noble is that? I didn't see myself in a healthy way when I was younger, and I ended up doing tons of stupid things that I still wish I could undo. So this is just a dream. I feel like I need to support this movement, started by running this colorful race last Saturday in Meadowmere Park, Grapevine.


J was trying to get his momma out of the box. I guess he knew that I wasn't for sale ;)

The race kicked off at 9 a.m. after founder Brad Carignan had lead us in prayer (I love that this community is faith-based! Because I think these issues need to be solved by something deeper than the 'good morals' of a group of people). We started off strong and I didn't even need my iPod because DJ Vow's playlist was bangin'.



We were splashed with color at least 8 times from the start to finish line. So fun! And J didn't cry at all!


I wish I had put on some unique costumes like these ladies!








This little girl's the cutest. At one point she was trying to make some kind of a 'snow angel' with those colorful chalk powder on the ground.





To be working out on a beautiful Saturday morning, while soberly dancing to some good music and giving hope to tons of girls and children out there who need it the most -- all with your husband and son? This is living.



What are you waiting for? Support the cause here.