By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 25, 2023.
Lethbridge-based non-profit organization Not4Sale has the opened doors to an international home for human trafficking survivors.
On Monday, Not4Sale opened its doors to a safe home for trafficked survivors to find refuge, counseling, and support, a seven-year project of Not4Sale that is now complete.
Not4Sale director Joy-Lynn Stickel of Lethbridge talked to The Herald on Wednesday about the progress of the refuge home and its purpose.
“The home we’ve been working on for seven years is finally open! We’ve learned a lot about the processes in the government and culture and have had a rollercoaster of victories and frustrations – from governments changing hands and our files being forgotten, to making great connections with the right people to help move things along.
“We have been so proud of our team for pushing through and being persistent with the goal in mind to help girls have a real home. We have worked hard to make this vision a reality, but we could not have done it without a supportive community of donors and partners. We look forward to what’s next in our journey as we continue to make an impact,” said Stickel, whose organization
The safe heaven is in a private location in Mexico where young human trafficking survivors will be taken to recover. Stickel said she has been in Mexico for the past eight years and the home will support young individuals that were sold into the sex trade.
“We’ve been in Mexico for the last eight years, and we’ve been working towards opening (a) home that will bring in little girls who have been, who have been in the sex trade and who have been rescued from the sex trade and bringing them into a home where they where they can heal and be restored.”
Stickel added early this fall the home got all the documentation required to open and they will be looking forward to welcoming this week their first young girls to receive rehabilitation.
“Just this fall, we were able to get all of our licensing in place and got all of the approval in place. And this week, we should be welcoming our first little girls into our home.”
Community members can support Not4Sale by donating, or volunteering by visiting https://not4sale.ca/support/.
“One of the options is you can become an advocate. And becoming an advocate means that you raise funds and awareness within your own circle and within in your own sphere,” explained Stickel.
“We do awareness events and different things. And if people wanted to kind of be part of the hands-on team, then they can send us volunteer email. And we would follow up with them (having them) onboard the team.”
Stickel said Not4Sale works in collaboration with social services and but it is not a part of the rescue of the children – rather, it’s only a part of their recovery.
“They will be detoxing and healing and doing all that in our home. But we do definitely have access through social services to psychologists, to counselors. Our team itself some of the people are trained for counseling and being able to counsel in this directly in this area.
“Every case is going to be different. And a lot of that would be us working again with social services, because right now we’re not the ones who actually go out and do the rescues. That would be a very dangerous thing to do.”
The organization’s mission is to see the end of human trafficking “in our lifetime” and its vision is to establish safe homes and provide services for people coming out of human trafficking.
It also wants to educate and raise awareness both locally and globally about the issue.
Not4Sale says there are 40.3 million people in enforced labour – including sexual exploitation – globally at any one point and about 1.2 million children are trafficked every year.