This January we pause to observe National Human Trafficking Prevention Month as a community. Today we take time to reflect on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In honor of today, Shelia Simpkins McClain, a 2007 graduate of the Thistle Farms Residential Program, reflects on the past decade of work she has been doing for survivors of human trafficking. As the Senior Case Manager for the Thistle Farms Residential Program, Shelia plays an instrumental role in welcoming women home.
"Today is a day to remember and to celebrate that we are part of a larger movement—locally, national and globally—to change a culture that believes in the buying and selling of human beings. Each day at Thistle Farms, we devote ourselves to the healing, empowerment and employment of survivor-leaders who have overcome trafficking, prostitution, addiction and abuse. Nationally, we support 49 survivor-led communities in 26 states as they offer sanctuary to an additional 152 survivor-leaders, and globally, we partner with 26 social enterprises that support the employment of over 1700 survivors around the world.
In 2007, I celebrated my own graduation from Thistle Farms Residential Program, and for the past six years, I have devoted myself to prevention, intervention, and mentoring of juvenile and adult victims of human trafficking. I support them from being a victim to transitioning into a survivor; I am a light for these women that we are so much more than our stories. I have found that walking with survivors through the long road of recovery and creating a life long relationship with them is key in their healing process. Knowing that they have a community of support changes a survivor’s outlook on life.
Each of our contributions—whether donations, conversations, purchases or prayers—are changing survivors’ outlooks on life each and everyday. Thank you for the part that you play in the Thistle Farms community and the larger movement to change a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold. This Human Trafficking Awareness Day, let us each remember that we have a role to play."