by Betsy Natter
On any given day in a typical local community, the average person may not think that problems such as sexual exploitation and human trafficking exist nearby. Many seem to think that those things only happen in foreign countries or to unsuspecting travelers abroad as depicted in the movie Taken.
However, the reality of this modern-day slavery is not only a global one, but local as well. In fact, over the last 10 years nearly 850 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Pennsylvania alone .
To confront this exploitation, Worthwhile Wear, a Bucks County non-profit operating both locally and abroad, works at addressing the root problems of poverty and inadequate education to free women from the bonds of trafficking. The organization operates vocational centers in India, providing employment, and a path to getting out of human trafficking. Worthwhile Wear partners with other entities working in India, combining their efforts and resources to provide effective solutions.
Over the last 10 years, nearly 850 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Pennsylvania alone.
Stateside, Worthwhile Wear operates an online store featuring items hand-made by those who have been affected by trafficking. These items are also sold in the Freedom Boutique shop operating in conjunction with traditional thrift stores locally. There are two locations in Fountainville and Pipersville. Proceeds from these stores support the overall work of Worthwhile Wear.
Additionally, the organization operates a long-term restorative care program for survivors of human trafficking here in the United States. The Well program, situated on several quiet acres in Bucks County, provides housing, education, skill development, counseling, transportation, vocational training and employment opportunities all focused on giving women an opportunity to heal and find stability as they move on toward independent and healthy lives. Furthermore, participants in the program are given the opportunity to have their stories heard in a safe place, to learn to express themselves creatively and experience healthy interpersonal relationships.
In addition to the housing facility provided for program participants, an education and counseling center has recently been completed. New classes for women in the coming year will cover topics such as finances, health and wellness, creative expression and life skills development. Both the residential facility and counseling center were previously abandoned buildings and have been completely refurbished utilizing hundreds of volunteer man hours and monetary donations from churches, businesses, foundations and individuals. The buildings, like the women who occupy them, are beautiful examples of restoration made possible with focused care and generous contributions of time and money.
“What I hope for the women is that they…recognize that they’re not here by accident – that they have value and purpose and that if they walk away with only one thing, I hope that it’s hope and a little bit of a sense of possibility for a different life for themselves as they move forward. – Karen Kutzner, Director, Worthwhile Wear”
In an informational video (below) exploring The Well program, Director Karen Kutzner shares, “What I hope for the women is that they…recognize that they’re not here by accident – that they have value and purpose and that if they walk away with only one thing, I hope that it’s hope and a little bit of a sense of possibility for a different life for themselves as they move forward.”
If you are interested in learning more about Worthwhile Wear and its initiative The Well, plan to attend an informative session held on Thurs., Jan.11, 2018 in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. A film screening will shed light on the issue and be followed by a Q&A panel. The event will be held at Calvary Church, 820 Souderton Pike, Souderton, PA 18964 at 7 pm in Heritage Hall (enter at door #1). Due to the nature of the event, parental discretion is advised.
For more information about Worthwhile Wear and The Well, to donate to the work or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit their website at worthwhilewear.org.