Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc. was established because there is a need to educate the world, our communities, families and friends that human trafficking is a 32 billion-dollar criminal industry that exploits women and children; in the most brutal ways, and we can do something about it.
Debbie Fowler, founder of Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc. learned of the atrocities while living in Kuwait. Quite by accident, she learned of maids who were deceived into believing they were headed to another country for jobs and education, only to have their passports taken from them upon arrival. They were bought and then made to work as maids with little or no pay, beaten and many, sexually assaulted.
Volunteering at the shelter with victims of a most horrendous crime, she knew she must do something with this knowledge. “I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned.” Research provided insidious results that this is a worldwide issue; not only “over there” but right here in our own backyards.
Debbie published a book Fragrance in the Desert in 2014; sharing how her eyes were opened wide to this tragic problem. The book continues to open many doors of opportunity to speak out publicly, the existence of trafficking and how it affects our communities, speaking at book stores, church groups, civic organizations, local colleges and high schools.
Each time out, she heard the audience ask over and over, what can we do? It wasn’t enough just to talk about it…. action was required…and that takes money.
She and her friend, Patty Carley began with emails to friends requesting donations of arts and crafts supplies. They started selling those supplies at local flea markets to raise money. The requests and flea market interactions spread word of their efforts throughout New York. Women from Syracuse and Rochester drove to Schenectady to deliver supplies they had collected from their communities. One year later, in the fall of 2015, Her Treasure Box was opened. The store is a thrift shop selling only arts and craft supplies; run totally by volunteers. All proceeds go to the funding for continual awareness of human trafficking in the community and the establishment of a home where victims of human trafficking can begin their healing process.
To provide restorative care and a sanctuary of healing and hope for women survivors of sex trafficking. We are a community of advocates seeking to change a culture that still allows humans to be bought and sold. We do this through a campaign of public awareness, advocacy, networking and collaboration with law enforcement, health care professionals and existing community organizations.
To raise awareness of human trafficking throughout the general public and to establish safe havens of healing and hope for women who have been trafficked through partnership and collaboration with existing organizations.
A holistic human rights approach is critical to the advancement of anti-trafficking policies that prevent trafficking, rescue and reintegration of victims, and prosecute traffickers. The objective of such an approach is to respect the human rights and dignity of all victims of trafficking while working towards its eradication.
LOVE IS THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE
FOR CHANGE IN THE WORLD
August 2018, we opened the doors of House of Hope and Healing, welcoming our first residents’ home!
Eyes Wide Open addresses obstacles to healing for survivors of trafficking and prostitution. We are grounded in universal values of compassion, hospitality and community living. Our program offers rent free housing, referrals to professionals in the community who provide trauma informed treatment, both medical and mental healthcare and access to addiction recovery programs.
Our focus is to provide the environment of love and encouragement as each woman heals from specific traumas they have experienced. We demonstrate and create real life tools that each graduate learns to use, not only to survive, but thrive and prosper in their home and community.
Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc., is the sister organization in Schenectady, NY and the Capital District to the highly successful Thistle Farms (based in Nashville, Tennessee).
The Thistle National Network is a community of sister organizations driving systemic change by utilizing Thistle Farms’ model to connect survivors of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and abuse to healing and empowerment. To date, 40+ organizations have programs based on Thistle Farms’ model of recovery.
“Love Heals” is much more than just two beautiful words. The concept really works, and the success of Thistle Farms clearly shows its power. Our focus is on healing the specific traumas these women have experienced, creating real-world tools that each program graduate uses to not only survive, but also thrive and prosper in their home community.
FROM THE AUTHOR
“The discovery of human trafficking, ‘slavery’ changed my life. I cannot unlearn what I have learned!” – Debbie Fowler
All proceeds from book sales go directly to Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc.