In their first couple weeks of The Freedom Ambassador Program education, Eileen and Cindy learned that human trafficking targets every day high school girls like them and that at least 25% of sex trafficking victims globally are minors. Predators come in the form of a girl who is “groomed” by a pimp to recruit other girls at school, or by an older boy who uses charm and deceit to recruit kids at shopping malls or teen hangouts. The majority of human trafficking happens over the Internet where a person of any age can pose as an innocent teen, offering friendship, romance or money in exchange for conversation or photos.
As they learned more about modern slavery, one theme particularly resonated with Eileen and Cindy: Kids with low self-esteem are at the highest risk because they are hungry for love and attention. “These kids are ready to believe almost anyone who tells them they are beautiful, smart, or worthy,“ says Eileen. “When I heard this, I realized this could be me. This could be my friend.This is what gave us the idea for our project.”
Eileen and Cindy want to make sure that all kids know that they are worthy of love. They want to equip kids to recognize and stand up to the ruses of predators who try to trick them. With the rise of teen suicide, their project can also help kids who are at risk see their worth and reconsider.
Through the Mirror Empowerment Project, Eileen and Cindy have created a mirror that is non-gender specific to convey pricelessness in their message #NOPRICETAG. The mirror front will include “Text: BEFREE” as embedded information to report incidents of human trafficking. The mirror comes with a carefully crafted double-sided card that provides information on human trafficking, in English and Spanish, the tricks used by predators and where to get help. While considering various vendors, the girls turned down a low budget option for a higher quality model. “We don’t want to use a cheap mirror, as it could convey to somebody that they are cheap. We want kids to feel valuable and worth having a high-quality mirror,” says Cindy.
While the Mirror Empowerment Project aims to help kids who are at risk of trafficking, it is also having a powerful impact on the very students who bravely launched the initiative. Millie Gess, the girls’ Professional Mentor, who has worked with victims and survivors of human trafficking around the world for over a decade, comments: “After only three meetings with the girls, they have transformed how they view themselves. They have a different countenance and trust level; they now articulate their dreams in a confident manner. Both want to be doctors: Eileen a surgeon. She owned being a math whiz, upgraded herself to an honors geometry class and is showing natural leadership tendencies by helping her classmates overcome obstacles in math. I am so proud of these young ladies!”
Eileen and Cindy hope to get the mirror in the hands of as many middle and high school students as possible, and to introduce the mirrors to high-risk populations (i.e. minors in the foster care system, homeless students).
In answer to the question “If you could have anything happen, what is your dream for this project?”, Cindy answered: “We want kids all over the world to know that they are worthy and to be able to recognize and stand up to anyone who tries to trick or harm them.”
Eileen and Cindy are seeking $2500 in seed funds to realize their dream. Click HERE to make their dream come true!