• 27 million men and women around the world – including our tri-state area – are trapped in slavery. Of those 27 million, 21.6 million are women, of which nearly all are involved in some form of sexual exploitation.
• Human trafficking is the second-largest organized crime enterprise, tied with arms trafficking – and closely following drug trafficking.
• Criminal operations find human trafficking increasingly appealing because of its high profit potential: humans can be sold repeatedly, while drugs are sold and used up after one use.
Moved with compassion for the women represented by these statistics, Emr planted the seed for the creation of a nonprofit organization with a threefold focus to free exploited girls and women: prevention, reaching/restoring, and creating awareness.
Beginning in India, Emr partnered with various groups to educate poverty-stricken families about the ploys of traffickers to prevent further exploitation and to train girls and women to sew and make jewelry and other products so they could make a living wage. Promoting and selling these products in the U.S. and online creates awareness and helps fund the work in India.
Recently, The Intelligencer ran a well-researched series about human trafficking in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This is a quote from the first article:
Human trafficking—especially sex trafficking—is happening right under our noses in many parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties. Law enforcement officials, area lawmakers, and local support groups are seeing an uptick in what they call modern-day slavery. Teenage girls are lured by pimps who feign romantic interest…Sympathy. Attention. Romance. Coercion. Force. These are some of the tools of traffickers.
This information supported what Emr had learned about the prevalence and problem of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women in Bucks County through involvement in the Bucks County Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT). Collaborating with other organizations and companies is a critical component of any efforts to help trafficking victims make the journey from victim to survivor. Bucks County is fortunate to have established organizations, committed professionals, and adequate resources to provide a broad range of human services to these women. Some gaps in service became evident in the BCAT meetings—the need for safe, long-term housing and employment opportunities. This need for safe housing, which gives survivors of this type of traumatic experience a place to heal, led to the development of a program called The Well, which was designed to put into action a faith-based response to deal with the issue of sexual exploitation of women in and around Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Modeled after successful restorative programs, the process begins by working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies to identify women over 18 who are trapped in this industry. Numerous human service organizations are involved in an assessment and treatment process, which may lead to a referral to The Well. Housing, food, clothing, counseling, life skills training, and tutoring are just some of the services women will receive at The Well. Opportunities for vocational training, employment, and community integration will be offered at Worthwhile Wear’s two stores: Worthwhile Thrift, an upscale resale and thrift store, and Freedom Boutique, a unique boutique selling items made by women rescued from human trafficking, located at the former Piper Classics in Pipersville. These will also be a source of revenue for The Well.
Luis CdeBaca, the Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, stated that “What trafficking victims endure is incomparable to what most of us confront in a lifetime and should put into context the small injustices and frustrations of our daily work and lives.” The job may be huge, but pulling together an effective team will provide an opportunity for freedom and restored lives for many women. Here are several ways that you can become involved in this battle for justice and human rights:
1. Donate to and shop at Worthwhile Thrift and Freedom Boutique.
2. Make a donation to Worthwhile Wear.
3. Sign up to become a volunteer at The Well or Worthwhile Thrift.
Worthwhile Wear is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to preventing entrance into and reaching girls already in the sex slave trade while addressing the root causes and providing women and girls an alternative means of income and a new life. The Well, a program of Worthwhile Wear, is a long-term aftercare and housing program in Bucks County focused on helping women over 18 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Dan Emr, the Founder and Executive Director of Worthwhile Wear, is no stranger to humanitarian work. Growing up on the mission field in the Ukraine, he had an excellent vantage point to see the Lord use his father’s business skills and his mother’s nursing experience to produce a Bible college and six churches that remain strong today. Dan graduated from Clearwater Christian College and pursued a career in sales and marketing for an engineering firm. After six years, Dan left the corporate world to pursue his passion to free exploited women. Using his business skills and experience, he developed Worthwhile Wear, its local program, The Well, and the sustainable employment opportunities through Freedom Boutique and Worthwhile Thrift.