Deb: What is Seeds of Hope?
Dana: Seeds of Hope exists to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children in Costa Rica.
Most people don't realize the breadth of human trafficking. There are an estimated 27 MILLION people trafficked world wide.
In fact, it's the second largest criminal industry behind drug sales.
- 80% of victims have been sexually trafficked
- 800 to 900 thousand are trafficked across international borders every year
- Average age: 12-14 years old
- Average cost of a slave 90.00 world wide
- Top 3 States: California, Texas, New YorkDeb: Why is human trafficking such a problem in Costa Rica?
Dana: Although Costa Rica is the most developed nation in all of Central America, the poverty there can be staggering in smaller villages. Children there are trafficked by their mothers out of necessity and as a generational occupation because no one has offered any other way of life. Seeds of Hope steps into to these disadvantaged communities and provides a way to freedom.
Sexual exploitation exists in Costa Rica due to the fact that it is a popular tourist destination. Prostitution is legal over the age of 18. The average age of a sex tourist is 55 and older and generally American due to Costa Rica’s proximity to the US.
Deb: How is Seeds of Hope helping girls in Costa Rica?
Dana: When Seeds of Hope was first founded in January 2012, our sole goal was to open a safe house for girls caught in trafficking, but it quickly became apparent that the need was far greater than those we could house. We did open a safe house in June 2013 and are fully licensed. We housed four girls at a rate of $6,000 per month. The girls eventually ran away in November 2013. We closed the safe house but maintain our licensing for emergency situations. Children in Costa Rica, unlike the US, are given the option of staying with their mothers who are trafficking them, or moving into what is considered foster care. Most children, although they hate the lifestyle, choose to live with their mothers. This is where Seeds of Hope comes in.
We started a clubhouse program in a high risk/exploitive village. We offer classes 6 to 7 days a week in various subjects such as: vocational training, English, spiritual classes, creative arts, wood working, and group counseling. In the past we’ve partnered with Love and Scissors, who spent three months in our program teaching our girls the art of hair styling. The girls are then given a certificate and are able to apprentice in local salons.
A number of our exploited girls make jewelry in return for food and utilities. No money is exchanged. Groceries are purchased and distributed on Tuesdays. Bills are paid directly as they are due. We’ve expanded since our first clubhouse opened in April 2012. We now have three clubhouses in Costa Rica with a third and fourth opening this November and February of next year. We’ve also started a boys program offering the same classes mentioned above.
Deb: How can we help?
Dana: Since we are expanding based on need, we are in desperate need of long term volunteers, fluent in Spanish, who can raise support to live in Costa Rica for a minimum of 9 months or more. Of course, we are solely funded by private donations and would love financial support even if it is $10 a month. Our average donor gives $25 a month. Please SHARE our website and Facebook page with everyone you know! Purchase our jewelry as 100% of the proceeds goes back to those making jewelry. Spread the word!
I'm hosting a giveaway in connection with today's post. I own a couple of Seeds of Hope bracelets and wear them all the time ~ my favorites!!! If you'd like to enter for a chance to win the bracelet shown in the photo above, please leave a comment either here on my blog, or under my post on Facebook. If you share about this giveaway on any other social media, let me know and I'll give you an extra entry. I'll announce the winner, chosen in a random drawing, on my blog next Monday, November 10th.
You can check out more of the jewelry for sale by clicking here.