The Philippines has become the world's largest known source of online child sexual exploitation, with endemic poverty helping drive a surge in abuse. Parents and relatives were responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases, according to the International Justice Mission aid group's seven-year study. The combination of English fluency and high internet connectivity in the former US colony had helped make the country a "global hotspot" for child pornography, the report said. The United Nations Children's Fund said in February this year that the Philippines is one of the top global sources of child sex abuse materials, with 600,000 "sexualized" photos of Filipino children bartered and traded in 2018 alone. (Source: https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/05/22/20/philippines-tops-world-for-online-child-sex-abuse-study)
There are so many children who need rescuing in the Philippines. That's why organizations like Consider the Lily are direly needed more than ever. At Consider the Lily, they focus on putting an end to human trafficking one person at a time - whether it be through prevention homes, rescuing children who are at risk of being sold, or impacting the ones responsible for this slavery by reaching out at bars, clubs, brothels, and hideaways throughout the Philippines.
THEY PRESENT HOPE WITH A WAY OUT OF THE SEX TRADE.
Consider the Lily believes that: Everyone deserves a chance to get back on their feet, to heal from the abuse and trauma, and to be given the opportunity to positively impact the world around them.
We talked with Kim Hommel, from Consider the Lily, through a written interview with us. She was kind enough to share about their hard work in the Philippines to combat human trafficking of children:
Q: Consider the Lily was started in 2010 in the Philippines. Could you tell us what sparked the birth of this organization?
A: Consider the Lily was founded by Josie Long. When Josie Long was 4 years old, her parents moved to Manila, Philippines to become missionaries. She lived in Manila with her parents and four siblings until moving to the states to attend college. In 2009, after graduating from cosmetology school, she returned to the Philippines.
Noticing so many hungry little girls running the streets she felt led to start feeding them and leading Bible Studies following the meal. Josie soon discovered the horrific abuse many of the girls were experiencing. She knew she needed to take these girls out of their current situations and that is when Consider The Lily was created. To hear Josie's heart and story in detail, watch her video below.
Q: Could you share with us what are the ways in which Consider the Lily (CTL) is combatting human trafficking in the Philippines?
A: A long-term family is something our girls need to fully escape the pain of yesterday and live in victory for today and tomorrow. It can take years to dig up the roots of the pain and suffering that have been experienced before entering the home.
In the CTL home, the needs of the whole child are met: physical, mental, medical, educational, emotional and spiritual.
Our approach to education is highly individualized. We partner with a few private schools that provide an excellent education. We also have a wonderful homeschool program that gives a great foundation from which our girls can grow. If girls are able, we bring them all the way through college, and for some, even through a masters program. If college is not the right fit, we find other avenues for the girls to continue learning and growing in their walk with Jesus.
When not in school, the girls are expected to play an active role in keeping the home running efficiently by helping cook meals, cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and other typical household chores.
Of course, there is also plenty of room for fun. The girls enjoy playing sports and doing arts and crafts together. They look forward to visiting their big sis, Ella, who graduated from college and moved out of our home last year. Ella now runs a community outreach program in Zambales, 4 hours north of CTL-Manila. In the summer months, the girls organize and host a summer camp which serves approximately 300 children from neighboring communities. When funds allow, the entire home is able to enjoy a short "vacation" together, typically to a nearby beach.
While balancing a full schedule of school, home duties, and "fun" activities, many of the girls would say their favorite time of the day is family time every evening. This is a precious time where true healing and growth takes place.
Jesus's teaching in Luke 12 inspired the naming of "Consider the Lily." Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious or worried. He talks about feeding the birds and clothing the lilies of the field. If The Father cares for the birds and lilies, how much more will He care for His children.
Our desire is to teach our girls about Jesus. Through knowing Him, they can have Hope without worry of tomorrow.
Consider the Lily is not the answer. Jesus is.
But Jesus has given Consider the Lily the desire and passion to rescue and provide a family home for as many girls as possible.
Q: From your experience thus far, what would you say is the toughest challenge for Consider the Lily in helping survivors?
A: There are many generational chains that come with the sexually abused and breaking chains is long hard work. Sometimes coming into a new place that functions in Christ-like manners it can be confusing and hard to learn so the fight or flight instinct can emerge. Once a girl turns 18, Consider The Lily can no longer force a girl to stay and sometime they decide to leave. It is challenging and heartbreaking. Plus wrangling 45 girls every morning for school has its challenges as well. 😉
Q: Could you share with us a favorite story of victory that Consider the Lily has witnessed?
A: There are so many stories I couldn’t say I have a favorite.
Cherry was growing up in whats known as “Helping Land” or “Trash Mountain” - the community of Tondo, Manila Philippines was home for Cherry till she was 17 years old. Cherry grew up having no idea where her next meal was coming from. School wasn't even in her thoughts – “future”? Maybe prostitution she thought… at 15 years old, she started making plans with her best friends to run away and start working in the clubs of Ologapo City… “At least then I'd know I could eat every day and it would get me out and away from this place I’m living in. I could send money back to my family and help provide for them as well.” As her and her best friends were making plans for this run-away; Cherry slipped down some dirt stairs outside her home, braking her hip. Since money was scarce and her family barely ate, going to the hospital was a definite no. As she laid for months on the dirt floor in her home, her best friends decided to leave her behind and start their future in prostitution. They are there today.
After nearly a year of having a broken hip, and laying on the dirt floor of her family's home, bed sores were in the process of killing her. A group visiting and doing charity work around her community, stumbled upon Cherry and next thing she knew she was on her way to the ER. This is where we met Cherry.
Cherry had been sexually and physically abused in her early years by her father, leading to an abnormal growth in her bone structure. It took us a year to get her body healthy enough for surgery. But she got her new hip and today at 19 years old, she “Loves The Lord her God with all her heart!”
She has been miraculously healed from the inside out. The past 2 years, seeing her go from bed rest, to wheelchair, to walker - flat on her back to playing volleyball with all her sisters, has made her our miracle girl, and has been a story of HOPE for so many!
Q: What are the current needs of Consider the Lily? How can we, the every day person, support you in fighting human trafficking?
A: CTL is in the process of opening two new homes. One in Manila and one in Zambales. This letter is from Ella, the oldest girl in the home that has graduated from college and is hoping to start her own home. Zambales is a port city 4 hours from Manila and has the second highest rate of prostitution. Child trafficking and poverty is huge in Zambales and many girls need to be rescued.
A message from Ella
May pag asa kay Lord.
There is Hope that comes from Jesus.
I say this to my girls whenever they are facing a situation where there seems to be no way out. And I thank God for this same Hope I receive from the Lord.
I grew up in a broken family. My uncles sexually abused me and my aunts were involved in prostitution. As a kid, I believed that my future would revolve around the same things. I thought I would grow up to be a teenage mom, or a prostitute in Angel City, Pampangas, dancing for and surrounded by foreign men.
My future changed when I came to know and accept Jesus into my life. Through my years in the CTL home, God has shown me there is always a way out through Him, with Him, and by Him.
I took my first trip to Zambales in 2015 with my CTL family on a vacation. I went back again later that year, and in one night, God revealed His plans for me.
I saw a teenager walking back and forth in front of a bar that was full of foreigners. That night, I knew that God was speaking to me. I still remember specifically what He said to me, “My child, I am going to use you and show them the same Freedom and Redemption I have given you.”
From that night on, from 2016 to 2018, I began to visit Zambales every month.
After graduating from college, I knew that the Lord was calling me to do more than just visit. Starting October of 2018, I became a missionary and moved to Zambales with Kath, my missionary partner, on behalf of CTL.
In the beginning, I only knew one girl *Andrea (name changed for safety). Now, I have gotten to know more than 100 people from three different communities here. As of now, we have 56 youths who regularly attend our weekly Bible studies. On top of that, my CTL sisters also visit me whenever they can, and help out with my girls.
Our hope is that someday, we would be able to provide a place for these girls to one day call home.
You can also support Consider the Lily by purchasing 139MADE's shirts and other products, while sharing about the wonderful work this organization is doing in the fight against human trafficking. 10% of all our sales until SEPTEMBER 13 will be donated to Consider the Lily. CLICK HERE TO SHOP