Working Against the Industry
Located in Lancaster, PA, non-profit organization North Star Initiative exists to “support women who are survivors of domestic sex trafficking by providing physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual care through a Christ-centered focus.” Ultimately, the goal of North Star is to “restore women from sex trafficking for freedom, for life, forever.”
At North Star, various ministry outlets are consistently occurring, both in front of and behind the scenes.
For example, the Harbor Restoration Program was designed as a safe haven for female sex-trafficking survivors. Not only is The Harbor a building with a roof and walls to house the survivors, but it is a home of love. Survivors are provided with the resources necessary to address their physical and emotional trauma, as well as resources to help them experience accessible choices toward independent, restored lives.
“The Harbor is designed and purposed in a way that our survivors feel safe,” commented Janelle Esbenshade, Director of Development at North Star. “Throughout their stay at the Harbor, each survivor participates in our restoration program that is designed to equip and support them. Eventually they will leave The Harbor, and we want to prepare them well for an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle.”
Throughout the months spent at The Harbor, each survivor undergoes a total of six phases, “comprised of designated responsibilities and privileges and reflect different cycles of change that are common in every individual’s life.”
Statistically, the sex trafficking industry is comprised of both male and female victims in a wide age range and varied characteristics. In order to maintain a steady number of residents, North Star Initiative typically requires that a potential participant matches a particular description before housing them at The Harbor. The application to become a resident at The Harbor is easily accessible via their website.
Clearly, The Harbor is an intense, hands-on ministry of North Star.
North Star’s efforts, however, go beyond providing a safe home for survivors. Educating others about the issue of sex trafficking is another important ministry of the non-profit.
“Local churches, businesses, and community groups have the opportunity to request that we speak at special events,” explained Janelle. “Typically, these events are held with the intention of spreading awareness about the reality of sex trafficking in our area.” In order to request speakers from North Star, their easily accessible Speaking Engagement Request Form must be filled out.
A third aspect of North Star is their Survivor Advocacy Team, whose “goal is to help provide survivors a ‘voice’ when they might be too afraid to speak for themselves.”
Before Janelle was hired as Director of Development at North Star, her first role with the non-profit was actually to serve as a Survivor Advocate.
“Seeing my mom so passionate about this issue has made me, her friends, and our other family members want to pursue social justice for this issue,” commented Janelle’s daughter, Adriana. “Unfortunately, the sex trafficking industry is thriving so well because females lack awareness and resources of how to identify the warning signs. Getting to hear my mom advocate for these victims and survivors, who aren’t much older or younger than I am, has been so impactful. I want to fight for them, and I want to educate other people about this issue.”
Evidently, one person’s passion for a social issue does not go unnoticed. In fact, in the case of Janelle and Adriana, that passion has the potential to spread from one person to the next.
Even though everyone has individual desires and convictions, witnessing someone else take a stand and fight for what they believe can cause another person to wonder, Why do they care so much about this issue? What’s so important about it? Have I truly considered the reality of this issue? What can I start doing in order to impact this issue myself?
“There [is] nothing more contagious than passion…Do what you’re passionate about and use that passion to inspire the world and to give others the opportunity to do the same. Dare to make a difference and leap into the unknown.” — Tamer Shaaban, Contributor on Huffington Post