As we mark the end of the first quarter of the year-long Crossing the Bridge Project, Concerned Women for America will be reporting on the progress-to-date of each of the Mexican nongovernmental organizations working with us in fighting sex trafficking in their country.
Supervised by Luis Antonio Marquez Heine, a Harvard-educated businessman, all of the projects are well underway. Mr. Marquez meets regularly with leaders of all five organizations and each group compliments the overall project goals of raising awareness about and combating sex trafficking in Mexico. This week we will share the highlights from Casa Sobre La Roca’s [House on the Rock’s] report.
Casa Sobre La Roca, A.C./Fundacn Camino A Casa, A.C.
The House on the Rock project under the leadership of Alejandro and Rosa Maria Orozco, founders of Casa Sobre La Roca began with a pastors’ leadership seminar in Mexico City that convened 11 pastors from across the Mexican Republic. The goal of the seminar was to raise awareness about the problem of sex trafficking in Mexico and ways that the pastors could help solve the problem.
The Orozcos attended CWA’s Bridge Project training seminar in April 2005 in Washington, D.C. Using a presentation by Dr. Janice Crouse and information from the Bridge Project, Rosie and Alex introduced the pastors to the disturbing problem of trafficking in persons and Mexico’s involvement as a “transit” country (where criminals bring victims through that nation on the way to the United States), as a “destination” country (where victims are sent to serve men primarily in the tourist areas of Mexico) and as a “source” country (where vulnerable Mexican women and children become victims of the unscrupulous criminal networks that engage in modern-day slavery). In their leadership seminar, the Orozcos also used a summary of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2005 from the U.S. State Department, a UNESCO Special Report, and a report from Mexico’s Family Integration Development (DIF) office to discuss their country’s problem with sex trafficking and how the rest of the world views it.
During the sessions, the Orozcos discussed child trafficking, sexual exploitation statistics related to Mexico and regulations that are in place to combat trafficking. They also identified the complex involvements that are necessary in order to successfully combat trafficking: such as politicians, grassroots organizations, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, law enforcement cooperation and the media. A special feature of the day was the description of the Sustainable Shelter project proposed by Fundacn Camino A Casa, A.C. The day ended with a workshop on how to build community networks through the Internet and instructions about compiling an inventory of regional resources.
As it turned out, most of the pastors have experience in helping children and women. One pastor runs a state-of-the-art shelter for abandoned children. Another wants to open a shelter to help abused women. Casa Sobre La Roca has a strong record of rescuing prostitutes and drug dealers; its efforts serve as a model for other pastors. With the information the pastors learned about sex trafficking victims, they may be able to identify them in the populations they already help. Four congregations have already started collecting information and data regarding sex trafficking and child prostitution in their regions.
Casa Sobre La Roca has established an impressive list of contacts thus far. It is working with other nongovernmental organizations such as World Vision, members of the Mexican Congress, human rights groups, government agencies, researchers and a shelter that provides rehabilitation for prostituted children. By the end of January 2006, a workshop will be available to assist pastors in working with and coordinating efforts within their communities; it will also focus on creating a database of information and resources and identifying the roles and involvements of key players in sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
Casa Sobre La Roca has already achieved a great start by organizing outreach into communities throughout Mexico. We look forward to updating you on its progress throughout the year.
We count on your prayers for the work of the Crossing the Bridge Project. Each of the organizations is doing significant work in combating sex trafficking in Mexico. Thank you for your partnership in this effort.
Next week: An update from Fundacn Infantia, A.C.
Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for CWA’s Crossing the Bridge Project.