Kourtney Ellis is a member of Wipe Every Tear, a nonprofit based out of Boise, Idaho that seeks to bring freedom, hope, and a future to girls trafficked in the sex trade. The organization operates safe homes in the Philippines and Thailand that allow girls of all ages to pursue an education to give themselves and their families a better future. Kourtney will be permanently relocating to The Philippines in the winter of 2017 to work with the women in the safe homes as well as assisting with vision and outreach trips that are done through the organization.
Why do you have such a passion to stop human trafficking?
I have had a heart for it since I was 18, which is when I was made aware of the issue of human trafficking. When I was made aware of this injustice I knew that I could no longer stand by and do nothing. I volunteered for an organization in college that works with human trafficking victims and operates safe homes in Southeast Asia and Haiti. When you meet the young girls and women that have been affected by human trafficking your heart breaks. I remember meeting girls as young as six or seven in safe homes in Southeast Asia. These young girls had been exploited for someone else’s gain. They had been used and abused and been made to believe that they had no worth or value.
I participated in the World Race in 2015, and during my time in the Philippines some of my squad and I partnered with Wipe Every Tear. I still remember one girl from one of the bars/night clubs we visited. There were 20-30 girls on the center stage at any given time in this bar. One girl caught my eye. I could tell by watching her that she had probably been doing this for a while; she appeared to just go through the motions. I looked in her eyes, from our booth and I could see no life, no sparkle, no light. She appeared to have completely cut herself off from feeling, from hoping. When I think of why I do this, I think of this girl, and the other girls and women that I have met. They deserve to know that they have worth! They deserve to be treated with respect, not used and abused for someone else’s benefit. I don’t all the number and statics, I don’t need to. The one is enough. The one girl is enough for me to say this is not right! She is worth it!
What do you hope to accomplish while you are there?
I would say my goal is helping the girls begin to know and experience God and His love for them and helping them understand their self-worth. I will be working alongside other staff to help the girls heal from past abuse and trauma. Wipe Every Tear seeks to restore the whole person, so we provide housing, food, healthcare and other living essentials free of charge to the girls. We also provide the girls with an education. I will be working alongside our Livelihood coordinator to help the girls develop professional skills they will need to enter the workforce. I want these girls and women to have the tools they need to go after their dreams, as well as be able to provide for themselves and their families. I also want them to know that they are seen, treasured, and loved.
Advice for those who want to follow their passion?
Find someone that is already doing what you’re passionate about and join the cause. If one it doesn’t exist, pioneer it. Fortunately, there are many organization fighting against human trafficking. I was able to partner with Wipe Every Tear prior to my commitment to join the Philippines staff. Partnering with them prior, allowed me to get a feel for the ministry and see their heart behind what they do which is why I chose to join their team. I am so thankful they chose me too.
For more information or to donate visit TheCause.org/partners/wipe-every-tear-kourtney-ellis