Ashley found out about World Relief Jacksonville by doing an internet search about human trafficking. After finding out that our office provides services to survivors of human trafficking, she contacted us to get involved. Like thousands of other college students, teenagers, and young adults, Ashley feels compelled to do something to help those who are enslaved in the sex trade. Read below about the journey that led her to serving the most vulnerable.
My journey to working with World Relief Jacksonville actually began about 5 years ago after I went on my first international mission trip.
The location was set; I would be travelling with 30 other people of all ages and backgrounds, to the beautiful city of Guatemala City, Guatemala. Our mission was to work with children in the local orphanages for 3 weeks. I met numerous people on this trip, but one young lady made such an impact on my heart, that ultimately changed my life forever.
On one of our orphanage visits, I had the incredible privilege of meeting a 13 year old, single mom. She was brought to the orphanage a few months earlier when the directors found her and her baby homeless and living on the streets. I must admit that my first reaction was somewhat judgmental. I thought how irresponsible it was for this child to not only have become pregnant at such a young age, but then to have also put herself and her baby in such grave danger.
After leaving the orphanage that day, I was talking with one of our trip leaders about the events that took place. He mentioned how sad some of the orphan’s stories were and how the girl I had worked with had the saddest story of all. I assumed this was because of her becoming a mother at such a young age and having to live on the streets. However, as the leader continued talking, I was blown away by the heartache that this young woman had faced.
He began to tell a story of how this teen mom was raped for years by her Father, and at only 12 years of age, became pregnant with his child. Once the baby was born, he kicked her and the baby out of the house, ultimately leading the young girl into prostitution in order to survive. I immediately began to cry and seek forgiveness for the judgmental attitude that I had felt towards her earlier that day.
For the remainder of the trip, I poured my heart and soul into that young 13 year old girl and her baby. I knew that she was the reason why I was there. After returning from that trip, I knew that I had to get involved with females of this age group that were experiencing some of the same issues as my sweet Guatemalan friend. I wanted to be an advocate for these girls for these girls, and fight to regain the innocence that had been stolen away.
Once I heard about the amazing work that World Relief Jax was doing with victims of Human Trafficking, I knew this was my way to get locally involved. I am also a nursing student, hoping to one day use my medical skills to reach out and physically heal these victims as well.
Go. Be. Do. The time is now!