(This is the third of three posts from Twila Wanamaker describing her experience attending a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee, October 13-15, 2013.)
Tuesday, October 15:
Tuesday began with more workshops. In “Interrupting the Cycle of Supply and Demand: A Criminal Justice Perspective,” we learned about “John” schools where men who get caught for the first time patronizing a prostitute either go to jail or agree to an 8-hour “John” school at their cost of $300. These men are then educated about prostitution, pimps, trafficking, and the human being beneath the prostitute. If the men complete the school, then their records may be expunged. In “Love Heals – Perspectives from Survivors,” several graduates of the Magdalene House program shared their incredible and inspiring stories of brokenness to healing.
After lunch, we heard from keynote speaker Martina Vanderberg, president and founder of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C. She listed cases of labor trafficking in which restitution was actually awarded to the victims. Power is put back into the hands of victims with lawyers on their side.
After touring Lena House, Magadalene’s largest residence and home to the program’s offices, many of us attended a huge fundraiser for Magadalene House held at the Ryman Auditorium. Country Western music, featured throughout the entire conference, was a highlight at this grand finale of “Welcome to the Circle.”
My colleagues and myself, representing All Hands In, whose mission is to provide a safe house for survivors of human trafficking in the greater Boston area, learned so much at this conference from others so willing to share vital information. We encourage you to watch for information about future workshops and conferences from Thistle Farms!
This post is contributed by Twila Wanamaker, member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.
*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo in post from Thistle Farms.)