Usually if the phone rings at midnight, something is wrong. Salvation Army officers Lts. Chwight and Janai Olige experienced just that thing during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this past year.
On the other end of the line was a community partner on the local Human Trafficking Task Force, and you could sense the urgency in her voice. Given the timing, she was having trouble connecting with someone to help a particular young lady she had heard from who was caught up in the underground world of sex trafficking in our community. The Salvation Army was the only remaining hope.
There was only a small window of time to make the rescue, and the Oliges sprang into action. Lt. Chwight Olige, who before becoming a Salvation Army officer worked in private security, immediately took off to find the young lady. This task didn’t come without danger. During times like these, it’s important to lean on Scripture, and verses like Joshua 1:9 immediately come to mind. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When Lt. Olige arrived on the scene, the young woman came out. All she had were the clothes on her back and a couple of plastic bags of personal items. She didn’t have much to call her own. She had lost her hope and dignity. She had lost herself.
The first step was safe shelter. The Oliges put her up in a hotel at an undisclosed location where she would be safe for a couple nights. Meanwhile, they were in touch with the Salvation Army’s local Project FIGHT team to determine the availability of shelter at the Center of Hope, which they were able to secure.
The next step was restoring dignity. Sometimes, a simple meal can make you feel normal again.
“We sat at Olive Garden, and tears where streaming down her face,” recalls Lt. Chwight Olige.
After dinner, they took her to Target to pick up a few essential items. Little things can make a tremendous impact. She began to see herself as a person again.
There have been moments since when she easily couldn’t have slipped back into her old trappings. But, The Salvation Army has been there for her, giving her the help - and hope – that she so desperately needed.
Now, the young woman has secured transitional housing through a partner organization Lily Pad Haven, and she is well on her way to rebuilding her life.
How You Can Help
You can support survivors of human trafficking in our community just like this young woman. When you give to stop Human Trafficking, you enable us to provide shelter, meals, clothing and essentials in their time of need.