PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, but one local organization is raising awareness every day.
Eden's Farm provides resources to survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation to help those affected reclaim and rebuild their lives.
Shandra Woworuntu said she was a victim, but now she's a survivor.
Back in 2001, at 24-years-old, Woworuntu left Indonesia to work in the United States.
When she landed at JFK Airport, she was forced into a car and taken to a brothel in Brooklyn, New York.
Hours later, the sex trafficking began.
"It was hell," said Woworuntu, who is on the Eden's Farm advisory board. "I was trafficked all the way, I- 95 and up and down."
It took many agonizing months before Woworuntu escaped to freedom.
But now she uses her time to empower others.
"My lesson learned made me want to speak out using my experience, using my voice to educate to raise awareness that trafficking is happening and give hope to victims who are out there," said Woworuntu.
Woworuntu works with Annalisa Gibbs who created Eden's Farm after having her own experience.
"I grew up in Thailand, and I was exposed to what sex tourism could do to a community," said Gibbs. "I think that planted a seed in me to do something about it."
Gibbs found this problem lies in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania too.
"Even though trafficking can happen to anyone, it often occurs in the backyard of those with zip codes, increased poverty, vulnerabilities," said Gibbs.
According to the national human trafficking hotline, out of the 909 calls and messages they received in Pennsylvania in 2020, 221 were human trafficking cases. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/pennsylvania
Gibbs said in Pittsburgh alone, they assisted about 45 people last year.
"We provide case management, tangible resources such as food, clothing, mental health assistance, even rides, dropped food off on people's doorsteps before," said Gibbs.
Annalisa said they also have a drop-in center to provide clothing, showers, food and other services, and a peer support group.
Within this month, they'll offer their first residential program.
"It's a 12-month program that's going to be free of charge," said Gibbs. "we're aiming to have it be holistic care where they get mental health provisions, housing, employment."
Showing survivors that a better, brighter life exists beyond this hidden crime.
"I hope we will be able to provide healing, love," said Gibbs. "most of all, they would find comfort and peace, and this renewed hope."
Just like Woworuntu, helping them thrive as they finally travel their path of freedom.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking and needs immediate help, call 911 or the national hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
if you're looking for support and more information about Eden's Farm, head to the website: https://www.edensfarm.org/.
Eden's Farm is also looking for volunteers. There is a volunteer and caretaker training in February. They are also accepting donations of socks, underwear and toiletries.
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