In the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments from around the world have imposed lockdowns and quarantine mandates. But although staying at home can be seen as a measure of containing the coronavirus, it can also be a terrifying opportunity for perpetrators of human trafficking to carry out their grim plans.
Ashley Hill, who is the founder of Magdalena’s Daughters, decided to use the latter as a platform of bringing awareness about sex trafficking among foster youth in San Bernardino County.
Ashley wants to send that message that while it is true that one’s home can provide safety from the virus, it can also set the stage for an exacerbated human trafficking crisis. And stepping up to address this looming problem, she took on the challenge of looking for ways to develop a pilot program for Magdalena’s Daughters that can offer safe homes for victims.
According to Ashley, San Bernardino County is geographically the largest county in the United States. However, it does not have any residential homes that specifically cater to the needs of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC). And so in 2018, she created Magdalena’s Daughters as a solution to the aforementioned problem.
As a non-profit organization that sprung from Ashley’s advocacy and passion, Magdalena’s Daughters is grounded on the mission of helping female dependents within the child welfare system to get them out of the vicious cycle of sexual exploitation. Moreover, it seeks to provide intensive therapeutic residential services and life skills to transform the lives of the victimized foster youth.
By addressing the risk factors surrounding human and sex trafficking, Magdalena’s Daughters strives to enhance self-efficacy and create a family-oriented home. Moreover, it also promotes trauma-informed care by allowing survivors of exploitation to share their experiences and insights.
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Ashley has been able to identify the barriers blocking sexually exploited victims from fully recovering. Because of this, she has been devoting her life to save as many individuals as she can. And through her efforts, she hopes to give them the joy and peace they have been longing for.
According to Ashley, individuals belonging to the foster youth community are one of the most vulnerable people to sex trafficking. And because of this, it is the objective of Magdalena’s Daughters to put an end to the victims’ sufferings by healing them from trauma.
As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it must also not turn a blind eye to other global crises, such as human trafficking and sexual exploitation, that have intensified among the foster youth. Thus, Ashley invites everyone to walk with Magdalena’s Daughters as it moves forward in helping victims and at-risk foster youth.
Although Magdalena’s Daughters currently does not have any homes yet, it is in the midst of providing safe housing for female foster youth who are victims or at risk of sex trafficking. It also looks forward to conducting empirical-based research to add to limited data and bring more information regarding human trafficking as well as its impact on foster youth. Moreover, the organization also plans on providing education to marginalized communities to prevent further exploitation.
To know more about Magdalena’s Daughters, you may head on to their website.