Vote “YES” for Amendment 2 (SR7) on November 8, 2016

Vote “YES” for Amendment 2 (SR7) on November 8, 2016

In 28 days, Georgians will have the opportunity to vote “YES” to protect Georgia’s sexually exploited children.

Constitutional Amendment 2- SR7 will be on the election ballots statewide, and if passed, will safeguard the lives of Georgia’s children who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking and hold accountable those who participate in their harm. If passed, the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund would provide for care, housing, rehabilitative, health and social services for sexually exploited children.

It’s been a long journey in partnership to reach this critical moment. On November 8th, join us in voting “YES!” to Constitutional Amendment 2- SR7.

ACTTION STEPS: 

1.    SPREAD THE WORD: Please take a moment each day to share this important information about Amendment 2- SR7 by using this flyer on social media, and in communications with family, friends and co-workers who live and work in Georgia.

2.   JOIN US FOR AN EMPOWERING CONFERENCE CALL: We invite you to join Rachel and others for an empowering 12-minute conference call on Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 6:00pm. 

Register for the Amendment 2 SR7 conference call.

 

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month - Awareness Event

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month - Awareness Event

Spelman College Sisters Chapel, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ International Human Trafficking Institute,  Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Interfaith Children’s Movement and Circle of Friends & The Living Water Programs invite you to join us on Sunday, January 10th at 5pm for a Transformative Justice symposium and Candlelight Vigil-- a gathering of Faith, Hope, and Action in recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

What You Didn’t Hear: Understanding Human Trafficking

A crowd of more than 200 was in attendance at the Center for Civil and Human Rights to preview the CNN Special Report -- Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking. The atmosphere was somber as we had a glimpse into the lives of our children caught in the web of human sex trafficking. Yet there was hope—a public conversation of the countless sexually exploited children in our city has begun. We remained hopeful as we witnessed three of our courageous girls triumph throughout the documentary. Participants left the screening in silence, realizing there is still much to be done.

One week later the rest of the world viewed the Special Report on CNN and CNN International. We invited others across the country to host viewing parties—safe spaces for watching and holding an open dialogue; for individuals, families, communities and houses of worship who wanted to encourage prevention, intervention and accountability. These parties took place across North America in 39 states, including Alaska, and in Canada.

CNN, Jada Pinkett Smith Join Forces for Special Report on Sex Trafficking

CNN and Jada Pinkett Smith Join Forces for a Special Report on Sex Trafficking in the US

Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking Airs Tuesday, July 21 at 9pm ET/PT

In a CNN Special Report, actress and long-time advocate Jada Pinkett Smith travels to Atlanta – a trafficking hotspot – to try and unravel the complicated web of human trafficking that’s happening right here in the United States. The hour-long special report is a gritty, raw look at the human trafficking industry in the United States, the lives of children caught in its web, and those fighting back against this form of modern-day slavery. Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking airs Tuesday, July 21 at 9pm ET/PT on CNN, CNN International and via CNNgo.

In this powerful report, Pinkett Smith and CNN delve deep into the heart of this heinous crime, following undercover officers on raids and rescues of underage victims, accompanying aid workers on outreach missions, and spending time with the survivors in shelters as they share their harrowing stories.

“For me, this project is extremely important because I want the world to understand the dangers that every kid in America is susceptible to,” Pinkett Smith says. “Human trafficking is one aspect of the vulnerabilities and obstacles that we are confronted with. People who sell children are monsters.”

Sex trafficking hit Pinkett Smith head-on when her then pre-teen daughter asked her about the crime in the United States. In disbelief, Pinkett Smith began to research and is now a vocal activist and advocate. Where does sex trafficking start? How do girls get manipulated into it? How hard is it for law enforcement and others to save them? And how can communities help protect children from the men and women who prey on their vulnerabilities?

To get answers, Pinkett Smith sits down with survivors who courageously share their horrifying stories of exploitation and the triumph of their survival. Pinkett Smith and CNN follow Sergeant Torrey Kennedy, head of the Internet Crimes Against Children Division, as he conducts undercover raids to arrest suspected traffickers and rescue underage girls. Lisa Williams, founder of a safe house and rehabilitation facility for trafficked teens, is featured as Williams counsels the exploited teen highlighted in this special report. And Pinkett Smith comes face-to-face with a convicted female trafficker. Viewers will also hear from aid workers and prosecutors who are working to eradicate this crime. 

The CNN Special Report Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Traffickingwas executive produced by Jennifer Hyde, the Director of the CNN Documentary Unit, produced by Senior Producer Ken Shiffman, Producer Tina Matherson, Executive Editor of the CNN Freedom Project Leif Coorlim, and overseen by Michael Bass, CNN’s Executive Vice President for Programming.

Additional airtimes on CNN International include:

Wednesday, July 22 1200BST/1300CET; 1600BST/1700CET; 2000BST/2100CET

Saturday, July 25 0400BST/0500CET; 1400BST/1500CET

Sunday, July 26 2000BST/2100CET

New CNN Special Report on Human Trafficking in Atlanta

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – On July 14, 2015, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, its International Human Trafficking Institute (IHTI) and Circle of Friends: Living Water for Girls will host a private screening of the CNN Special Report Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking. Hosted by actress and long-time advocate, Jada Pinkett Smith, the documentary takes the viewer on an emotional journey into Atlanta’s sex trafficking hotspots to unpack the complex issue of modern-day slavery. The hour-long special report produced by CNN takes an intimate look at the human trafficking industry in the United States through the stories of children caught in the web and those fighting back against this form of modern-day slavery. It’s a comprehensive look at 21st century slavery, while focusing on the city of Atlanta, a city widely regarded as having one of the biggest problems, but also the most active and engaged citizenry. Airing on July 21st at 9:00 pm on CNN, the CNN Special Report Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking features several courageous girls who are recent graduates of the Circle of Friends: Living Water for Girls program.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights, IHTI and Circle of Friends: Living Water for Girls believe that this powerful documentary will expose the problem like never before.  It will also provide a great opportunity to open dialogue and make significant change in our communities, schools, courts, law enforcement agencies and houses of worship across the country on the issue of modern-day slavery. These opportunities include hosting conversations with young people in an effort to prevent others from becoming victims, offering intervention for those asking for help, inspiring yet others to engage perpetrators who recruit and demand to rape our children for profit and addressing the systemic issue that makes this crime perpetuate.

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About The Center for Civil and Human Rights: The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects The American Civil Rights Movement to today’s global Human Rights Movements. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items. Visitors will be immersed in experiential exhibits through powerful and authentic stories, historic documents, compelling artifacts, and interactive activities. The Center is a source for ongoing dialogue —hosting educational forums and attracting world-renowned speakers and artists who work on a variety of human rights topics. For more information, visit www.civilandhumanrights.org

Circle of Friends, Inc. and it’s programs, Living Water for Girls and Living Water Learning Campus Collaborative, assists girls and young women survivors of violence, street life, and human sex trafficking and exploitation providing a safe space to heal from traumatic life events, pursue educational endeavors and acquire skills to become self-sufficient. For more information about our organization and programs, visit www.cofcl.org

Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Legislation Becomes Georgia Law

Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Legislation Becomes Georgia Law

ATLANTA (May 5, 2015) Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 8 into Georgia law today at the Georgia State Capitol. The legislation focuses on ending the sexual exploitation of Georgia minors and establishes more severe punishments for those found guilty of this crime. The new law will allow children who have been victimized by sex trafficking to be treated as victims—not criminals.

Safe Harbor/Rachel's Law important announcement from Lisa Williams

 

Dear Friends and Beloved Community-

Please join us as we watch Governor Deal sign Senate Bill 8, Safe Harbor/Rachel's Law, on May 5th at 9:30 am on the North Wing Capitol steps. We will stand behind the Governor on the steps to witness this historic moment for the children of Georgia!

I ask that you come early to allow enough time to park, go through security, and to gather on the North Wing Capitol steps on the second (2nd) floor by 8:45am. Rachel is looking forward to seeing and thanking you all personally.

On behalf of Rachel and all of the children who have been entrusted into our care over the past 8 years, please accept my heartfelt thank you for your steadfast support of this legislation, tireless activism, loving community, and for always believing that our children in Georgia deserve more. Because of the community’s collective efforts, on May 5, 2015, our children will get more. More protection. More services. More opportunity for hope.

I am forever thankful for the leadership of our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, supporters, collaborative partnerships and beloved community for showing up and standing up for our most vulnerable citizens—our children.

Without you, none of this historic legislation and changes to Georgia law would be occurring. The collective efforts of community have paved a new road forward, strengthening how Georgia takes care of our most valuable resource— our children.

On behalf of Rachel, and all of the Rachels; and with sincere gratitude and joyous celebration, thank you.

Lisa Williams

Founder & CEO

Living Water for Girls to participate in United Nations forum.

On this, the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, there is still so much work to be done towards the equality and empowerment of women. With groundbreaking steps being taken to pass Safe Harbor/Rachel's Law through the ‪#‎IamRachel‬ movement we are so excited to announce that Rachel and Azariah, both survivors of exploitation and thrivers of the Living Water LRC program, along with Circle of Friends/Living Water for Girls Founder, Lisa Williams, will be headed to speak at the United Nations on Friday, March 13th as featured panelists for ‪#‎CSW59‬ (59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women). 

This event will include young women survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, two students from St. Joseph High School in New York City who are actively engaged with their peers through the ECPAT-USA program in their school in creating youth awareness about child sex trafficking; and will be moderated by Holly Smith, author of “Walking Prey” and a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation who was exploited in the sex industry when she was 14 years old. Please spread the word and continue to lift these brave young women up in prayer. We are making history!! For more details please visit: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw

Arise, Awake and Act Against Sex Trafficking

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, Spelman College Sisters Chapel and community partners the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Living Water for Girls, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Interfaith Children’s Movement will host the “Arise, Awake and Act Against Sex Trafficking” conference. This free, daylong conference begins at 11 a.m. and is targeted at clergy, lay and community leaders and students across metropolitan Atlanta, and will spotlight the ongoing conversations, programs and legislation designed to mobilize men and women to combat sex trafficking. The event will be held in the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Ed.D. Academic Center Auditorium. For more information, visitwww.spelman.edu, or call 404-270-5893.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

A Day of Faith, Hope, & Action.

JANUARY 11, 2015

 
 

Circle of Friends: Living Water for Girls and it’s community partners invite you to join us for a Transformative Justice Gathering and Candlelight Vigil- a day of Faith, Hope, and Action for those traumatized by sexual violence and sex trafficking. The program will include featured speaker, Ms. Yvette Richards, National President of United Methodist Women, Inc., and Representative Andy J. Welch, R – District 110, Pamela Perkins Carn, Interfaith Children’s Movement Coordinator, and Reverend Natosha Reid Rice, Associate Pastor, Women’s Ministries at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. They will speak on this human rights issue, introduce the ground-breaking Rachel’s Law and together we will hold a candlelight vigil. For more information please contact Mo Reilley at 404.627.0225 or email mreilley@cofcl.org.  

 

EVENT INFORMATION

When: Sunday, January 11, 2015
Venue: Spelman College Academic Center
Time: 5:00PM-6:00PM
Cost: Free (RSVP is required)
Parking: $3 in campus deck 

Learn how our collective action will end sexual violence and sex trafficking

Learn how to be the first responders in the lives of our children

Learn how to turn faith, hope, and action into transformative justice

 

Sexual Violence and Sex Trafficking is an American problem—an Atlanta problem

Bridging Faith, Hope and Action to Achieve Transformative Justice

Get Ready for "Girl Talk" with COFCL's Ms. Lisa Williams

Woman Thou Art Loosed (WTAL) began in 1992 as a Sunday school curriculum developed and taught by the powerful teacher, speaker and author, Bishop T.D. Jakes. Meant to encourage women to become extraordinary women of purpose, WTAL has transformed into a world-renowned and life-changing book, a Grammy ®-nominated album, a NAACP Award-winning film and a wildly successful national conference that, for more than 10 years, has brought together thousands of women from all over the world.

Though this phenomenon has blossomed with every passing year, the heart behind its creation has not changed. Woman Thou Art Loosed is not about books, films, music or conferences. It has been—and will always be—about women!

Participating as a speaker in the very popular “Girl Talk” session of the conference is our very own Ms. Lisa Williams, Founder and CEO of Circle of Friends. Discussing the situations faced by today’s women, Girl Talk calls together a dynamic panel of speakers to confront contemporary issues such as domestic violence, self-esteem, relationships and finances. The purpose of this symposium is to challenge your perception on the hard-hitting issues and present a fresh perspective that will improve your outlook on life and inspire you to greatness. In their mission to rescue, rehabilitate and restore girls and young women survivors of violence and human sex trafficking, Lisa and her team have raised over $1.5 million dollars in grassroots efforts in support of Circle of Friends’ rehabilitative programs. As one of the leading voices for children and young women of abuse and sex trafficking, Ms. Williams will be bring her experience, knowledge, and passion to “Girl Talk.” She is joined by Mrs. Serita Jakes, Ms. Sarah Jakes, Pastor Van Moody, Dr. Michelle R. Callahan, and many others who will be sure to teach, empower, and inspire those in attendance.

If you are a woman who is seeking the tools to help find balance and purpose in your life, Woman Thou Art Loosed is just the place you need to be. This is a place for you to come together with thousands of other women from various backgrounds and spiritual levels in a safe, nurturing, and empowering environment. You can find more details and get registered at www.wtal.org

Calculating the Cost of Sex Trafficking in Our Communities

This lecture by Lisa Williams, one of the nation’s leading voices on the subject, will explore
the definition and elements of sex trafficking, the demand side of sex trafficking, the
vulnerable people who are recruited, tricked, or forced into the sex trafficking industry,
and the true cost sex trafficking has on the victimized, their family and our community.

This event is free and open to the public:

Date/Time: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10am

Location: Atlanta Technical College Auditorium

                1560 Metropolitan Parkway SW
                Atlanta, GA 30310

Download the flyer for more information

 

Circle of Friends/ Living Water for Girls Hosts 15th Anniversary Gala Featuring Award-Winning Author & Playwright, Pearl Cleage!

“A PEARL FOR OUR GIRLS” GALA TO HONOR LOCAL LEADERS AND SUPPORTERS
WHOSE WORK HELPS COMBAT CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING!!

WHAT:

“A Pearl for Our Girls” Awards and Benefit Gala will celebrate Circle of Friends
Celebrating Life, Inc.’s 15th anniversary of equipping and empowering women and girls to
live a life free of abuse. The gala will highlight the success of Circle of Friends’ most well-known program, Living Water for Girls and Living Water Learning Resource Center, which rescues and restores
victims of abuse and child sex trafficking.
The event will also pay tribute to Atlanta-based community and business leaders whose
contributions have helped provide survivors of violence and sex trafficking with a safe place
to heal, learn, and find hope for a better tomorrow.
The evening will conclude with a special “way forward” announcement by Lisa C. Williams,
Founder & CEO of Circle of Friends Celebrating Life, Inc.

WHEN:

Friday, September 12, 2014
6:30 PM Cocktail Reception
7:00 PM Awards Gala

WHERE:

The Dennard Conference Center at Atlanta Technical College
1560 Metropolitan Parkway, SW. Atlanta GA, 30310
WHO: Lisa C. Williams - Circle of Friends Celebrating Life, Inc., Founder & CEO
Pearl Cleage - Best Selling Author & Award-winning Playwright
Isha Sesay - CNN International, Anchor & Correspondent
Hon. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta City Councilmember, District 11

Award Recipients:

Lori Billingsley – Coca-Cola North America, Vice President of Community Relations
Nina Hickson – City of Atlanta, Ethics Officer
Deborah Richardson – National Center for Civil & Human Rights, Executive Vice President
Michael Hollingsworth – Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, LLP, Managing Partner
Michael Stoy – Mayor of Cochran, GA; Middle College of Georgia, Retired President
John Deushane – WXIA/The Networks of 11-Alive, President & General Manager
Robyn Miller – Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta, Attorney

Natosha Reid Rice – Habitat for Humanity International, Associate General Counsel
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Associate Pastor, Women's Ministries
JP Beaty – Kelsher Communications, President
Kelly Smith Beaty – Kelsher Communications, Principal
Phyllis Stephens – Nationally Acclaimed Tapestry Artist
Joseph Calvo – Calvo Graphics, President
Suzanne Chrispen – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Anita Paye – Hope for Life Community Church, Co-Pastor
Todd Hicks – Allegiance Retirement Solutions, Founding Partner
Nathan Austhof – First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Sunday School Instructor
Kelleita Thurman – Atlanta Police Department, Detective

ADDITIONAL: Tickets for A Pearl for Our Girls are currently on sale for $75 here. Ticket sales
benefit the programs and services of Circle of Friends Celebrating Life, Inc.
Circle of Friends was created on September 12, 1999 with the mission to serve, empower and equip women to make a positive difference in the lives of other women and girls. Its signature program, Living Water For Girls’ Residential Program is licensed and approved by the state of Georgia to serve girls (12-18 years of age) who have survived human sex trafficking. Living Water for Girls Residential Program was followed by a second, complementary program, The Living Water Learning Resource Center (LRC), a non-residential education and training program for young women ages 16 and older who have survived life challenges, violence, street life, prostitution or human sex trafficking. For more information about the programs and service of Circle of Friends Celebrating Life, Inc., please visit www.cofcl.org.
 

Graduate from Living Water Learning Resource Center speaks to thousands at Ebenezer Baptist Church

Atlanta, GA DeAsia became involved with Living Water for Girls at 14. She is now 18. On Sunday, July 20, 2014 she delivered our graduation address at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Time stood still.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 was a special day at Ebenezer Baptist Church’s TODAY'S WOMEN'S DAY WORSHIP service. A highlight of the worship service was a mini-graduation ceremony for five young women who had been victimized by violence, street life, or human sex trafficking but have now transformed their pain into power, receiving GED's, pursuing post-secondary education, moving from victim to victor! 

Ebenezer Baptist Church wanted to include this breakthrough ceremony at this year’s Women’s Day Event. It was the perfect opportunity to celebrate and see the versatility and wholeness of women. The congregation witnessed a celebration of women’s strength; women’s ability to interpret and teach from the sacred text and women’s ability connect with those gathered in a powerful way.

Highlights of the ceremony were felt as the congregation became one around the theme of this service, “Hannah rose…” based on a passage of Scripture in 1 Samuel 1:9. Members and visitors walked in as individuals, as women, men, ushers, pastors, deacons, choir members, dancers, but left the building centered as one. 

Says Kevonna Nathaniel, observer of the service: “Due to the location of the graduation, we felt the Lord’s presence. Both worship and encouragement filled the church. 

We reached our $50k goal!

Dearest friends & supporters - We are so pleased to announce that we reached our fundraising goal for the qualifying $50K match grant!!!! None of this would be possible without you. Thank you for raising awareness about the challenge and for financially supporting the cause. Thank you to our supporters at the Quest Foundation for matching our effort. Thank you all for blessing our girls! With this we will continue to #Changeherlife

Benefit Concert & Silent Auction

This event is part of a special fundraising effort called the 50k Match Challenge. From now through July 4, 2014 the Quest Foundation will match any donations to Living Water up to $50,000. Please come and join us in our effort to "Change Her Life"!!!

The concert will feature performances by the Athens Guitar Duo (http://www.athensguitarduo.com/) and Solomon Smothers.

Saturday, June 28 at 3:00pm

Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Athens GA (ELCA)

800 W Lake Dr, Athens, Georgia 30606

Auction items include:
-a one day inflatable slide rental
-jewelry by Premier Designs, Inc.
-personal training session with Ellevation Training
-photography session by Andy Tucker
-Thirty-One Gifts merchandise
-2 night stay in Helen, GA cabin (http://www.annscabin.net/)
-3 night stay in Portland, OR bungalow (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1399647)

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Police: Woman imprisoned, pimped 14-year-old girl in Cobb

Cobb police are looking for a woman who allegedly imprisoned a 14-year-old runaway and pimped her out to men.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Brandi Yakeima Lasiter on two counts of false imprisonment and two counts of pimping.

According to the warrant, Lasiter asked the girl to leave home in December 2013. Between then and Jan. 12, Lasiter took the girl to The Hospitality Inn on Delk Road and the Country Hearth Inn and Suites on Windy Hill Road, she said

Human Rights Project for Girls on Passage of Legislation Supporting Victims of Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S.

Washington, DC – The Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls) congratulates the bipartisan support and passage of two game-changing pieces of legislation in the House for victims of child sex trafficking in the U.S.:  The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act, H.R. 4058, and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, H.R. 3530.

Rights4Girls worked closely with the bill authors and House leadership to elevate the plight of our most vulnerable children here in the U.S.  According to Rights4Girls’ Director of Law and Policy Yasmin Vafa, “we have worked closely with Members like Ted Poe (R-TX), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Karen Bass (D-CA) and others to live out our promise to the girls we advocate for that we would push for legislation that addressed the culture of impunity for buyers and improved the foster care system’s response to child trafficking. We are grateful to the House of Representatives for making our promise to the survivors one step closer to reality.”

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act aims to prevent sex trafficking of youth in America’s foster care system by strengthening child welfare systems’ ability to identify and respond to child sex trafficking, reducing the vulnerability of children in foster care, and promoting stability of foster youth in general so as to prevent against exploitation and other negative outcomes.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act takes major steps towards ending the culture of impunity for those who seek to purchase sex from underage children by directing law enforcement, courts, and the anti-trafficking task forces throughout the country to effectively target the demand that fuels the sex trafficking market. In addition the bill reauthorizes a child sex trafficking block grant program allowing state and local governments to develop comprehensive support programs for these victims. Finally, the legislation increases the Crime Victims’ Fund cap so that there are more funds to serve not only domestic victims of trafficking, but all victims of crime, who are greatly in need of services and support for the trauma they have endured.

 For more information visit www.rights4girls.org

A Sex-Trafficking Survivor’s Perspective on the Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

I was 18 years old when I first felt powerless. I stood, frozen, as a gun was pointed at my head. I was demeaned and called unprintable names. The victim of abuse and sex trafficking, I was repeatedly violated and tortured and then blamed for it all.

On April 15 that powerless feeling returned. That was the day it was reported that 230 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped and forced at gunpoint from the safety of their boarding school, from the safety of their families’ protection, and from the sanctity of the right to their own thoughts, dreams and bodies.

It’s been a month now, and my feeling of powerlessness continues to free fall. Yet without giving into helpless emotions, I raise a voice for the now voiceless Nigerian schoolgirls.

For me and the girls I work with at Living Water for Girls, a residential and therapeutic program for young American girls victimized by human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, we realize that there’s a thread that binds the victimized, whether we’re in Nigeria or Nebraska. That is why I’m convinced that Boko Haram, its lieutenants and foot soldiers have already begun exacting physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse on them.

I know from personal experience that their suffering cannot be described or even fully comprehended by most, because there is not a suitable context in which to frame the evil that has taken up residence in their young lives.

These beautiful schoolgirls are not commodities; they are not political pawns; they are not throwaways: They are children. They are our children. We here in America are kin to them—not by lineage but by counting ourselves as members of the human race. Because of this connection, I urge Americans to remember them, and to continue to support the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, even as the news fades from the headlines.

In my work at Living Water for Girls with survivors of human sex trafficking, I talked to girls and young women about the atrocities being carried out on their sisters across the seas. They knew firsthand about these horrors. After all, many of them have been abducted, lured or tricked by traffickers (or pimps as they’re known in the streets), and suffered indescribable crimes that rendered them mindless, bodiless and spiritless, too.