Over the past few months the Sacramento Bee published several articles that were critical of Courage Worldwide, an organization that was founded to help girls caught in sex trafficking. The group has responded with a letter from board member Jenny Wolter.
More than five years ago, Rocklin-based Courage Worldwide – fueled by donations from people concerned about the horror of sex trafficking – opened homes in Northern California and Tanzania for young victims of sex trafficking.
While the Tanzania home remains open, Courage Worldwide’s board of directors made the difficult decision to temporarily close the Northern California home after losing some key staff in May and knowing that new state regulations would change requirements for newly hired staff.
This decision was made reluctantly after being open 24 hours a day for five years. Try to imagine the work involved in serving traumatized children 24 hours a day for five years, never closing.
In that time, Courage House served 41 girls who had been victims of sex trafficking – ideally staying a year for therapy and beginning their recovery. The demands on the staff to serve these traumatized girls were tremendous.
In three front-page stories during the last four months and in an editorial, The Bee has picked apart the organization and the home (“Tales of sex traffic and Satan don’t hurt just one charity,” Editorials, Dec. 22).
Here’s the reality: You can’t compare the operation of a home for six girls who have been victims of sex trafficking to a home that serves children who haven’t been traumatized by that experience.
Courage Worldwide and its programs have been recognized by medical professionals and law enforcement groups for the effectiveness of its programs. And, unsaid by The Bee in three stories, is that girls who go to Courage House are placed there by social workers and professionals who have concluded that it is the best place for them. We have high ratings with Guidestar, Charity Navigator and ECFA.
Yes, Courage does have its disagreements with state regulators.
The state has cited the organization for prohibiting young girls from 11 to 17 to possess cell phones. Courage and law enforcement experts believe these phones can link them back to the people who sold them for sex. Ironically, the state itself approved Courage’s program and the cell phone ban.
State officials have cited the organization for not posting the home’s license number online. Courage doesn’t publicize its license number because it can lead to publicly identifying the location of the home to people who might want to recruit the girls back into sex trafficking.
Is Courage Worldwide perfect? Is its leadership perfect? No. But the organization and its leadership did not sit by and do nothing about the issue of child sex trafficking. Instead, with the partnership of many people and the faith community, they’ve given 41 girls in Northern California and 26 girls in Tanzania a chance for a different future.
That’s something to celebrate.