After a recent awareness and training session for Order of Malta volunteers in the Connecticut – Southern, Western, & Northern Area who are interested in helping survivors of human sex trafficking, local members, John and Jen Mitchell, decided to create a special holiday activity for the survivors who are served by the Partnership to End Human Trafficking (PEHT) in Bridgeport.
John and Jen, with the help of Area Co-Chairs, Cece & Mike Donoghue, organized two outings to celebrate Christmas with the amazing women of PEHT. First, Connecticut Area volunteers hosted the women on an expedition to choose, cut down, and decorate the perfect Christmas tree for their beautiful home in Bridgeport. Afterward, everyone gathered for a nicely catered lunch provided by the volunteers.
One week later, Jen & John treated the women to a private shopping day at the Ridgefield Thrift shop, providing $200 gift cards for each woman to purchase anything in the shop that they wanted. All of the typical excitement of a special shopping day coupled with the thrill of getting a good deal and ultimately ending with a well-deserved lunch made for an incredible afternoon for these extraordinary ladies. Many special moments happened over those two days that made an impact on the courageous women and volunteers alike but one, in particular, is worth mentioning.
While checking out at the store, one survivor was buying a beautiful, old-fashioned antique china doll. One of the Order of Malta volunteers asked who she was buying the doll for. The woman hesitated and then looked at the volunteer a little teary and admitted she was buying it for herself and then added “It’s the first doll I have ever had”. This woman is now in her late 60s and the difficulties in her life began when her own Mother started trafficking her at the age of 7.
There are so many ways to honor the birth of our Lord during these weeks of Advent, decking the halls, lighting our wreaths, and especially making the life of those who have suffered unimaginable cruelty a little better even if just for a moment.
You may learn more about the Partnership to End Human Trafficking by going to their website www.PEHT.org. Perhaps even visit the PEHT Shop if you are still looking for a Christmas gift for that special someone and purchase a Survivor Made candle, greeting cards, or sweatshirt. All items at the PEHT shop are made by survivors and all proceeds from the PEHT Shop go to improving the lives of people who have been sex trafficked.