As you might know, January marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and it happens in every state, including ours. Many Rhode Islanders feel removed from the topic of trafficking. They think it is a crime that doesn’t happen here, an issue that doesn’t affect them; but at Sojourner House we see the impact firsthand.
Sojourner House provides the only shelter and transitional housing program in Rhode Island for victims of human trafficking. In 2022, we commemorated the six-year anniversary of our THEIA project (Trafficking, Housing, Empowerment, Immigration and Advocacy), which is a collaborative effort with Project Weber/RENEW to provide shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services to victims of human trafficking. THEIA clients have access to safe housing, basic needs, support groups, immigration advocacy, recovery assistance, case management, life-skills training, and trauma-informed supportive services.
Since the inception of our THEIA program in 2016, we’ve provided shelter to 174 clients, welcoming 36 trafficking victims into our space this past year alone.
With our community’s help, we can reach so many more. Sojourner House wants the folks of Westerly to know there are resources available to them. If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is sex work, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity, please call our helpline at 401-861-6191 to access help and services.
There are many ways to support Sojourner House and the needs of our THEIA clients. At present, monetary donations to support our programming, as well as donations of grocery store gift cards, bus passes, and furniture are the most pressing. Visit our website at www.sojournerri.org for educational resources and information on volunteer and donor opportunities.
The writer is executive director of Sojourner House in Providence.