Heidi Search Center protecting kids from human trafficking

Mentor program aims to curb sex trafficking

SAN ANTONIO -- Women are pairing up with kids to protect them from human trafficking. A crime that victimizes thousands of people while raking in billions of dollars.

San Antonio is at the crossroads, but now there is a new way to break the cycle.

Families walking into the Heidi Search Center open the door to hope when they are desperate for answers.

"We pray to God that He give us strength to fight every day," Andrea Garcia said.  

Strength Garcia has been holding onto for nearly three months since her 15-year-old niece disappeared.

"We think someone is forcing her to stay with them," Garcia said.  

"I see the most amazing potential and our future being harvested, destroyed and damaged," said Dottie Laster, the executive director for the Heidi Search Center.

More than 80 percent of the cases at the center are connected to human trafficking, with as many as many as 100,000 new victims a year across the country.

Tuesday the center launched the new program "I am Heidi" pairing rescued kids with five women leaders like Alexandria Ellington.

"I am pledging to assure they know they are all valued," Ellington said.  

"We have real world events, speeches, gathering and activities where they are the center of attention of someone who has been totally successful," Laster said.  

The program will also reach into schools to talk about how kids can protect themselves. Traffickers typically targeting teenagers, most of the luring happening online.

The mentorship aims to help victims, who even after they're back home are at risk of being victimized again. It's exasperated by the fact San Antonio is home to two major human trafficking corridors, I-35 and I-10.

"San Antonio should be safe and beautiful for our children to grow up in," Laster said.

The program launches next month and for more information, you can go to the center’s website http://www.theheidisearchcenter.org/

 

(© 2016 KENS)


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