Efforts are underway to open the state’s first rehabilitation home for underage, female sex trafficking victims on the Northshore, at a place approximately halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, two areas where the problem is said to be bad.
Beth Salcedo, the director of the work-in-progress said the building, which will be the future "Free Indeed Home", has plenty of space, lots of room and plenty of land.
However, Salcedo said the best thing that young women will be offered at the center is a fresh start.
“We want to be able to, hopefully, watch them transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly," said Salcedo, with the Louisiana Coalition Against Human Trafficking, "From a piece of coal, where they feel like they are worth nothing, to a diamond."
Dr. Raphael Salcedo, Beth’s husband, has helped similar victims recover from their experiences in the past. He said a place like this is long overdue.
“Many of these girls come in with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms," he said. "One of the hallmarks is when you look in their eyes and their eyes seem lifeless."
One thing the Salcedos want to raise awareness of is the fact that children anywhere can be snatched into sex slavery, especially by meeting strangers who contact them through the Internet.
“You can get a little girl now quicker than you can get a pizza and it’s unfortunate, said Salcedo.
The organization behind the building says they’ve gotten a lot of help already, including donated clothes, but they say that in order to be successful, they’re going to need a lot more help.
“Community groups or churches and what not, if they’d like to adopt a room, then they would go on our web site and find out how they can do that. We’re registered, kind of like you would register a baby or a wedding."
The goal is to educate people on how to help victims escape, and then get them help to begin the rest of their lives.
The Northshore Human Trafficking conference is being held at the First Baptist Church in Mandeville on Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm.
If you'd like to help with the "Free Indeed Home," visit the organization's website: http://www.lacaht.org/