Dear Friends and Supporters of ITEMP,
Thank you for your past support of the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP). Without people like you we could not fight human trafficking and child labor in Guatemala and around the world. Your support not only helps us to prevent human trafficking and exploitation, but also helps us to rescue and provide rehabilitation to trafficking victims.Your generous contribution allows us to help many different types of victims - including Karen, who we are trying to save from the vicious cycle of human trafficking.
Let me tell you the story about our current plea for help from Karen’s mother and how we are doing everything we can to bring her home safely.
A MOTHER’S HORROR...
The day was sunny and the weather perfect last week when Patrick walked into the Project’s Dreamer Center. It was only eight o’clock, yet already a line was forming outside the Atkinson Family Clinics, which open at nine.
The day changed dramatically when Patrick rounded the corner at the bottom of the ramp that brings you in to the Dreamer Center. There he found Maria standing surrounded by several of our volunteers and team members. When she saw him she shouted out, “Ai, Patricio” and began to cry.
Maria dates back to the earliest months of 1991, when The GOD’S CHILD Project was born. She and Patrick met in Guatemala City, where he would walk the streets of the Zona 5 slums, looking for the boys and girls who had written and asked him to return to Guatemala, and help them again. One of these boys was now a street hardened gang member named Walter Luna. Living with him on the streets was Maria's 12-year old son, Danny. The GOD'S CHILD Project and ITEMP got Danny off the streets and into school. Since then, Maria and The GOD’S CHILD Project have also gotten six of her other children through school.
Wading through Maria's tears and screams, Patrick put his arm over her shoulder and walked her to a bench that sits among the bushes under the wall. He already knew that her youngest daughter, Karen, had been taken three months ago and Maria didn’t know where Karen had gone.
Patrick also knew that Karen was developmentally challenged and had gone to a special education school in Guatemala City. “She’s a physically beautiful child,” Maria always says, “However; her ability to reason and care for herself just isn’t there.”
Karen called me last night, Maria said through her tears. She said she had been tricked into going with a woman, and that she was in the United States. Now she wants to come home.
Being the practical guy that Patrick is, he dove into trying to get as many details from Maria as he possibly could. From what city did Karen call? Was there a phone number for her? Most importantly, how was Karen doing?
Shooing away the school children who were coming close because they either wanted to say ‘hi’ or they wanted to see why this woman under his arm was crying, Patrick told Maria that he had lots of friends in the FBI and who worked as police. All we need is a phone number, a name, a city, and we will bring Karen home.
"Karen didn’t know where she was," Maria told him through her tears, "and she didn’t know her address or phone number. She had found some money and paid someone to let her make a phone call… the way we do it here in Guatemala… and all she said was that someone tricked her and she wants to come home.”
Having nothing more to learn, Patrick gave Maria his home and cell phone numbers, and made her promise to call him the instant Karen called again. He taught her how to retrieve an incoming number, and made her swear that she would get as much information from Karen as she could. Patrick reassured her, “If we get anything solid, I’ll be on a plane to that city tomorrow.”
As of today, Karen is still missing and living somewhere in the United States. She hasn’t called back, and her mother struggles to sleep at night. To be honest, we find ourselves thinking about Karen too, wondering, listening, trying to hear if we can learn where she is.
Please say a special prayer for Karen tonight before you go to bed. She is out there somewhere. The GOD’S CHILD Project is doing all we can to bring her home. Your love, prayers, and financial support are what make it all possible.
Please join us in finding Karen, and other children like her who have been tricked into leaving their homes and trafficked around the world. Every child we rescue and provide with an education helps us move towards breaking the bitter chains of slavery and poverty for their families, giving them hope for a brighter future.
Melissa SchrodenSpecial Opportunities CoordinatorThe GOD’S CHILD Project | ITEMP (Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons)“Breaking the chains of poverty through education and formation”Guatemala | El Salvador | Malawi | India | United States