by Candice Lee
(Birmingham, Ala.) – The WMU Foundation recently made $3,500 in grants to The WellHouse in Birmingham, Ala., and Turlac Ministries in Moldova, two organizations that fight human trafficking and aid trafficking victims. The grants were made from the WMU Foundation’s Hayes Endowment, which was established by David and Judi Hayes to specifically address the needs of trafficking victims.
“Of all trafficking activities in the United States, 40 percent of it happens in the Southeast,” said Alexa Likis-James, development director at The WellHouse. “We provide rescue, shelter, help with getting identification, medical assistance, and more. We basically get victims back on the map.”
Dr. Oleg Turlac, founder of Turlac Ministries and graduate of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, identifies economic issues as a major factor in Moldova’s human trafficking crisis.
“Women are promised a good job, and they sign a contract in a foreign language,” Turlac shared. “Traffickers take advantage of our economic situation.”
The grant from the WMU Foundation helped The WellHouse provide trauma counseling, medical assistance, and housing to trafficking victims.
“We receive no federal funding, and we never charge our ladies for these services,” said Tajuan McCarty, a survivor of human trafficking and founder of The WellHouse. “Foundation grants are imperative to our sustainability.”
Turlac used the WMU Foundation grant to purchase sewing machines to help Moldovan women learn a skill that will provide an income.
“The sewing ministry gives women an opportunity to earn an income, offering an alternative to prostitution,” Turlac said. Turlac Ministries also provides rescue and counseling to trafficking victims, as well as programs aimed at preventing trafficking.
The Hayes of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., began the Hayes Endowment to combat human trafficking after Judi learned about the issue through Project HELPSM: Human Exploitation, an initiative of national WMU®. When the Hayes realized that more than 29 million people are currently being trafficked, they felt compelled to do something to provide a Christian response to trafficked victims.
According to David George, president of the WMU Foundation, the Hayes Endowment specifically helps Christians in their efforts to rescue victims and offer short-term and long-term counseling, housing, and rehabilitation in the name of Christ.
Turlac strongly supports a Christian response to trafficking victims. “The victims are discouraged,” he said. “Many think there’s no escape, but we’ve seen many situations where people have shown compassion. There is a way out. Christ is the only answer because, otherwise, this is too much of a burden for a woman to bear.”
In addition to the Hayes Endowment, the WMU Foundation supports many Christian missions and ministry efforts. To learn more about the WMU Foundation, visit wmufoundation.com.