A Lethbridge-based organization is taking significant steps to help the battle against human trafficking, as the doors to a safe home for victims in Mexico open later this week.
Director of Not4Sale Joy-Lynn Stickel says on Friday, December 1st the first two people will be brought into the home, which can accommodate up to 10.
Stickel says the journey to opening the facility started nearly 15 years ago when she went to a conference, during which an address from a keynote speaker stuck with and greatly impacted her.
“I came home, and my husband will say I cried for days about the plight of these kids and wondering how one person could actually change that. Because it is such a horrific crime, and it’s huge, and it is so underground that nobody really can give the accurate numbers of it.”
Stickel would end up spending three years in Cambodia working with an organization that was providing safe homes to human trafficking victims in the country. These homes were places where victims could go to get off the streets, get the help they need, and start to heal from the atrocious acts they had seen and encountered. Stickel says she took what she learned from the organization in Cambodia and began to focus on Mexico, spending the next eight years working with the government and authorities to get the first safe homes doors open.
In the fall of 2023, the Not4Sale organization received the necessary permits and paperwork to open the first home. Stickel explains that the space opening in Mexico is one of the only homes to focus on sexual trauma in the area. She explains that police or social services will bring the girls to the home.
“Most of [the girls] will be right off the streets, and a lot of them will be addicted to drugs. So we will need to do a detox, and a lot of counselling, a lot of physical checks, but a lot of it is the mental and emotional healing they’ll need.”
Stickel says in the future, the organization’s hope is to have safe homes in as many places as possible for boys and girls because human trafficking is not just focused in countries like Cambodia or Mexico but in Canadian cities like Lethbridge as well. However, she says the first step on the home front is educating as many people as possible about the issue and the fact that it is also happening in Canadians’ backyards.
More information about Not4Sale is on their website.