Human trafficking victim shelter closes

Updated: Jan. 24, 2020 at 5:35 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Advocates for victims of human trafficking are heartbroken tonight. Funding cuts forced the shut down of a home for victim’s last summer and they are struggling to find a way to re-open.

Beth Salcedo is passionate about helping girls forced into a life of prostitution.

“They are made to live this life, which is abberant in every way,” she said.

She used that passion to open the 'Free Indeed' home five years ago helping dozens of human trafficking victims try and get on the right path.

'They've lived in a world of chaos, and they love the peace that we bring," said Salcedo.

Four months ago salcedo had to close the doors, a victim of state funding cuts, in a program which more often than not places trafficking victims in foster care, rather than in group homes.

"We had to close down temporarily hoping we could figure this out," said Salcedo.

The closure of the Free Indeed home was also heartbreaking for Yvette Fouchi who’s been volunteering there for three years.

“These children have no idea how valuable they are, they have relied on what other people have told them,” said volunteer Yvette Fouchi.

This problem is not unique to our area. Salcedo says it’s nationwide and it's growing.

Salcedo says the internet contributes to the problem, and she urges parents to monitor their children closely. she's hoping to change a funding system that favors foster care, over the kind of individualized care victims get in group homes like hers.

“88% of sex trafficked children were in foster care when they ran away,” said Salcedo.

This is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and the Junior League organization has taken on human trafficking, as a cause worth helping.

“Just the full awarenes of the scope is gut wrenching, and heartbreaking, and people need to understand all the areas that trafficking touches,” said Christine Vinson with Junior League.

Despite the difficulties, Salcedo is committee to re-opening.

“To stay open we need big money,”said Salcedo.

Salcedo says much more is needed,to help more girls break a vicious cycle that’s often difficult to escape.

The Free Indeed Home relies on private as well as public contributions. This is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and if you would like to help visit their website.

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