This summer, I am interning with Present Age Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of teen girls. In short, they partner with local law enforcement agencies and the FBI (yeah, I know, that’s awesome) to bring girls out of sex trafficking and provide them with medical, educational, and counseling services while working with them relationally and spiritually. I just finished my first full week, and I am absolutely thrilled to move forward into the summer!!! This internship is already one of the best experiences ever!!!!! I’m so excited; I don’t think I’ve told anyone about my internship without attaching an excessive amount of exclamation points to the end of every sentence. (I’ll try to refrain, but sometimes I just can’t help it.)
I started working with Present Age Ministries in February after watching a video explaining the seriousness and prevalence of sex trafficking in the United States and, more specifically, Charlotte, North Carolina. There are at least 100,000 children used in prostitution, and approximately 100,000-300,000 children at risk for commercial sexual exploitation every year in the United States. North Carolina is the sixth biggest state for trafficking, and Charlotte is the number one city in North Carolina. The average age of girls entering the sex industry is 12-14 years old, and these girls are forced to service 15-20 men every single night.
Go back and read those statistics again slowly.
Y’all. That is insane.
And so, I’ve found a cause that adds excitement to my voice and determination to my work. No task seems like a waste of time. I’ve spent time speaking to other college students and members of the community to raise awareness about the issue. I’ve been able to sit in on board meetings and community gatherings to discuss awareness opportunities and prevention strategies. I’ve also written newsletters and copied stories and poems composed by survivors. And I am able to leave everyday feeling hopeful that these girls will understand that they are loved and valued despite what lies they have been told in the past.
Being part of a team committed to reclaiming the value of these girls is truly incredible. Present Age Ministries is doing important and necessary work in the Charlotte area, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me!
Also, this is a shameless plug for Present Age Ministries: check them out!!! (presentageministries.org)
The link to the following video gets to the heart and soul of what Present Age Ministries is all about: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4kaw8Rh-zE&feature=youtu.be)
--Written by Erin Coggins, Levine Scholars Program Class of 2018