ITEMP Offers Fresh Start for Entrapped Women & Children
María, 21, mother of four, fled dire poverty to come to La Antigua Guatemala hoping for a better future. But she didn’t find the tranquil, colonial paradise that makes Antigua so appealing to travelers worldwide. Instead, she and her older daughter were forced to work long hours for the owner of the house she lived in and barely got anything to eat. The house was frequented by drug dealers, and she had been urged on various occasions to sell her children.
Human trafficking is not something abstract. It is so shocking that it makes us want to look the other way. Who wants to see young children trapped into forced labor or domestic servitude, young women forced into prostitution and sexually exploited, free men turned into slaves? Who wants to see these 2.5 million victims worldwide? They do not have postcard smiles; they are survivors who have been through hell.
Like countless others, María was destitute and far away from her loved ones. She was helpless—the perfect victim for ruthless traffickers. She and her daughter had been exploited, and she might have been forced to sell her children if the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited, and Missing Persons (ITEMP) had not stepped in to rescue her.
Founded in 2001, ITEMP is a borderless anti-human trafficking program of Nuestros Ahijados, an NGO well known for having helped thousands of children and families break the bitter chains of poverty over the last 20 years.
ITEMP works to prevent, interdict, rescue, recover and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. It provides them with safe houses when necessary, medical and psychological aid, social and legal assistance as well as with education.
Thanks to ITEMP, María is now in a safe house, her children are going to go to school, and she is going to enroll is a literacy program. Tears have been shed but joy is taking over. And now she can agree: Antigua is beautiful.
If you know about a trafficking victim or if you want to help us offer a fresh start to children and young women whose lives have been broken, contact ITEMP. Call Clara San Filippo, operations director, at 7832-4678 or email: Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org, also visit www.itemp.org