As a native Atlantan, I've spent many years hearing the quiet conversations about girls who get "turned out" in the most innocent of places: our skating rinks, our night clubs, even in our own homes. When I was in high school, I remember a few girls who were "stripping" for money after school; I'm not quite sure what happened to them. The fact that I don't know speaks to a greater problem that the city of Atlanta has had for a long time: child sex trafficking.
Our girls grow up too fast, it seems. I recently saw a girl who could have been no older than 10-years-old wearing a full set of acrylic nails, a halter top, and short shorts. My daughter, who is only 7 years-old, asked, "Isn't she too young to wear fake nails?" "Indeed," I told her.
Sadly, there are men who pry on "adult" children like her; their insatiable, and quite frankly, disgusting desire to have sex with a child has fueled the child sex trafficking industry. Atlanta has become a hot spot, and it's not for good reasons; Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the largest hubs for commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young adults in the U.S.
Our girls, especially African-American ones, are entering child sex slavery at alarming rates. On average, over 100 adolescent girls are raped and sexually exploited for money in Georgia on any given night. Yes, that means that by nightfall, there will be 100 adolescent girls who will do the unthinkable for reasons unimaginable. Many of them have run away from home and they have no one to turn to. Their faces are all over missing posters, but their pimps keep them under such a lock-and-key, they'll never know anyone is looking for them.
Living Waters for Girls (LWFG), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, has been a beacon of light for girls who desperately want to leave sex trafficking; Living Waters' goal is to "rescue, rehabilitate and restore commercially sexually exploited girls by providing safe refuge and holistic therapeutic services", but their impact is much greater than that. Their long-term comprehensive program helps girls earn their GED, break free from drug and alcohol addictions, gain valuable vocational and life skills and prepare them for a life free from abuse.
Living Waters focuses on restoring the entire person and empowering them to live beyond their circumstances. Founder Lisa Williams has committed her life to raising awareness about commercial sex trafficking and needs our help to further her reach to save our girls.
Starting April 1, Living Water for Girls is launching A 100 Days for Beautiful a virtual fundraiser to raise $40,000 to receive a matching grant from The Quest Foundation. If they can raise $40,000, The Quest Foundation will give them $40,000. How's that for exponential giving?
LWFG is asking for you, yes you, to host a kick-off party April 1 (or any day thereafter) to help spread the word about their efforts. Invite your friends (and your daughters, nieces, and sisters), gather some food, and a laptop. Open up the discussion (and your wallet) to make a donation to Living Waters for Girls
I'm doing my part (two-fold) by bringing awareness and making a donation. It's small, but it helps. To learn more about Living Water for Girls, visit www.livingwaterforgirls.org and check out the video below.
Follow Alisha L. Gordon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlishaLGordon