Foster Care and At-Risk Children

Cassie was just an infant when her biological parents abandoned her. From that point on, she was carted from abusive foster family to abusive foster family, never able to find a place to call home—until someone adopted her. But she didn’t find safety and respite within her new household. Instead, she was once again abused, even trafficked. The trauma she faced planted roots of mental illness within her.

Cassie’s story has a happy ending; she was rescued from her situation and is healing within the refuge of a domestic safehouse. However, her situation is not unique, and other stories may not end on a positive note like hers does.

Children with experience in foster care are at particularly high risk of sex trafficking; they make up the majority of individuals preyed upon (The Polaris Project; ACYF). The foster victim to non-foster victim ratio is uncertain, due to the hidden nature of the crime; but 2013 statistics from the Polaris Project estimated that, of the runaways who were believed to be trafficking victims, 67 percent came from foster care backgrounds.

Why such high numbers? What puts these children at this degree of risk? There are a few different reasons and factors.

Children are placed in foster care for a good purpose: because they have suffered abuse and/or neglect at the hands of their biological parents. This creates an inherent risk; children who are abused—especially sexually—are more likely to be trafficked. But the physical and emotional damage does not always end with the child’s mother or father. Foster parents—the ones who are meant to protect, cherish, and rehabilitate—may also abuse the child, as Cassie’s did. This is not always the case, of course, but it does happen. In such instances, families slice into preexisting scars.

Past experiences—as well as the stress of relocation and parental separation—can also hinder relationships between foster children and families. Many of the children suffer developmental, social, academic, emotional, and/or mental issues. While some families rise to the challenge and succeed, others find that they are not properly equipped for such a responsibility. Sometimes those in the latter group feel forced to back out for this reason, leaving children feeling unwanted.

Even if the fostering relationship works out, system policies may force children to flit from home to home. With each move, a new fissure streaks through the floors beneath them. The result is a life of instability.

These factors make foster children particularly easy targets for sex traffickers. Pimps can step in and draw victims into a net of slavery, luring them with things they’ve always wanted but never experienced: love, dependability, acceptance, and affirmation.

Kindhearted people like you, however, can also give at-risk children the affection, attention, and care they so desperately need. Donating your time through mentorship is one way to do so. Befriend a girl between the ages of 12 and 14—the average age of prostitution entry (The Polaris Project)—and you will provide her with appropriate love and affirmation, which she may not receive at home. The offers of a trafficker will then lose their power. There are many organizations through which you can mentor, from the nationwide (e.g., Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) to the local (e.g., Barnabas Ministries in West Michigan). Even if you don’t have a knack for mentoring, you can simply create a haven of hospitality for your children’s companions. Extend warmth and friendliness to them, and assure them that you are present and available if ever they need someone. Perhaps they won’t respond, but perhaps they will.

In addition, WAR, Int’l partners with several other organizations that help at-risk children, such as New Life—a rehabilitative and life-restoring home for youth who have nowhere to go or have suffered abuse, neglect, trafficking, and more. They offer services such as counseling and skills training. Support their work, and you will lift a young person out of his/her circumstances, as well as join him/her on the journey toward recovery and empowerment.

Lastly, if you feel called and equipped to do so, consider opening your home to a foster child. Throughout the United States, the demand of foster children exceeds the supply of foster families. By giving an abused or neglected child a structured, stable home and all the love in your heart, you will give him/her a safe place to heal, as well as reduce his/her risk of being trafficked. Whatever you choose to do, your charitable act can make a difference, giving a child a hand up rather than a handout.

Wear the Story, Share the Story

Join the journey of rescue!

It’s easy to feel discouraged when you think about the millions of people who are trafficked worldwide. But even small steps can make huge differences in the lives of survivors. WAR, Int’l invites you to walk with us as we work to create circles of protection around at-risk women and children.

We believe that stories are a powerful way of spreading awareness and hope. They humanize a statistic, infusing blood and flesh into a number. That’s why every purchase you make at the WAR Chest Boutique includes a story card. Each card describes the program from which the product came. Flip it over to find a true tale of redemption, the story of a program participant (whose name has been changed for privacy protection). Read it, remember it, and take a look at other WAR stories if you so wish (you can even download them and tack them to the fridge). If a friend mentions your new product, seize the opportunity to share the story attached to it.

When you shop at the WAR Chest Boutique, you don’t just empower an individual in a practical, tangible way and join her on the journey toward healing. You also receive the opportunity to spread the word about a woman like her—a woman whose life has been restored. You receive the opportunity to wear the story, share the story.

Find a store near youShop onlineRead true tales of empowerment

Gray Wool Men's ScarfSamita Stripes Blue Scarf Wear the Story

One Dress, One Month, & One Mission

Taking action during trafficking awareness month

When the alarm clock forces your feet to escape their cave of warm blankets, the same old question comes to mind; “What am I going to wear?” Normally the choice is made from a large pile of pants, shirts, and skirts. But many men, women, and children across the globe have no choice at all. From the clothes on their back to their food and their daily work—everything is controlled. According to the US Department of State, an estimated 27 million people live as modern-day slaves. This dark reality, commonly known as “human trafficking,” continues to thrive as the third largest criminal enterprise (USDS). But during the month of January, groups and individuals alike will open closed doors, unveiling this hidden evil as a part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. One individual, Megan Cowley, is raising awareness in her own unique way—by picking out a dress.

Pearl NecklaceThe Plain Dress Project

During Human Trafficking Awareness month, Megan, a mother and teacher, will become a voice for the silenced through necklaces, scarves, and bracelets. “I am going to be wearing the same ‘Plain Dress’ every day and accessorize it with items I have acquired from various organizations that address the issue of human trafficking” said Megan, “Most of my jewelry and scarves are WAR products and near the end of the month we are going to host a WAR product party.”

As friends, family, and co-works ask Megan about her repeat dress, she will pass out a WAR Scarfsmall card with information and organizations, like Women At Risk, who address the global issue of human trafficking. “I am hoping that people will be moved from apathy to
awareness and then action. If I am able to generate awareness I will feel like that is a seed planted…” Such seeds have the power to challenge our daily living, call communities to action, and even offer rescue to the at-risk. Megan herself first became aware of human trafficking while watching a movie. When she later heard Becky McDonald speak at a conference, that seed became something powerful and life-changing.

WAR ShawlYour January Mission

During this month WAR, Int’l wants you to clothe those at-risk in dignity and worth, planting your own powerful seeds. Whether you are a doctor, teacher, parent, runner, or other, there is always a way to take action against injustice. “I believe that I can engage people in these relationships—to have conversations, to build awareness, to pray, and to support organizations at local, national, and global levels, both financially and through volunteer service” stated Megan, in the hopes that many others will join her in this mission.

During Human Trafficking Awareness Month only, you and a friend can each host a product party and receive a US Training Center necklace as our thanks to you. Or commit this month’s coffee funds to a necklace at the WARChest Boutique, to a WAR, Int’l partner, or even to the US Training Center right at WAR Headquarters, where your donation will be doubled. You can also follow Megan’s journey on Instagram @megancowley1 or by following #plaindressproject.

Let us know if you create your own project for Human Trafficking Awareness Month! We want to see how you’re taking action against Human Trafficking in January and beyond!

Calling All WARriors

Prayer Needed for Overseas Travel

world-heart Dear WARriors, During the cold month of January, WAR, Int’l president, Becky McDonald, will be traveling across oceans, greeted warmly by our partners, programs, and friends. On January 7th, she will take off for Amsterdam where Becky will meet Lena, a long-time friend of WAR, Int’l who was rescued from forced prostitution. Today, Lena is free and happily married, now anticipating the arrival of Becky, her “stand-in mom.” Soon after, Becky, Phil McDonald, and WAR Staff will travel to the Philippines, Thailand, India, and Ireland, meeting with potential partners and expanding our reach into new places of rescue. Please join us as we cover their travels in prayer and thanksgiving!

January 7 (Wednesday)

Becky travels to Amsterdam Morning
Traveling Grand Rapids, to Detroit, to Amsterdam

January 8 (Thursday)

Becky Arrives in AmsterdamMorning

January 9 (Friday)

Becky travels to Manila, Philippines—Evening
Special prayer for rest as time zones change fast!

WAR Staff Travels to Manila—Morning
Traveling Pennsylvania, to Chicago, to Seoul

January 10 (Saturday)

WAR Staff arrives in Seoul, Korea—Evening

Becky arrives in Manila—Evening

January 10 (Saturday)

WAR Staff arrives in Manila—Evening

January 11-15 (Sun-Thurs)

Becky & Staff in Manila, Philippines
Pray that meetings & in-country travel will go smoothly

January 16 (Friday)

Becky & Staff travel from Manila to Bangkok, Thailand—Afternoon

January 17 (Saturday)

Becky & Staff in Bangkok

January 18 (Sunday)

Becky & Staff Travel to India City #1—Evening

January 19 (Monday)

Becky & Staff Arrive in India City #1—Morning

Becky & Staff fly to India City #2—Afternoon

Phil McDonald travels in India—Evening
Traveling Grand Rapids, to Detroit, to Amsterdam

January 20 (Tuesday)

Phil McDonald changes flights in Amsterdam—Morning

January 20 (Tuesday)

Becky & Staff in India City #2

January 21 (Wednesday)

Phil McDonald arrives in India City #1—Morning

Becky returns to India City #1
Pray for WAR Staff as they return to the USA

January 22-24 (Thurs-Sat)

Becky & Phil in India City #1

January 25 (Sunday)

Becky & Phil travel to India City #3—Evening

January 26-27 (Mon-Tues)

Becky & Phil in India City #3

January 28 (Wednesday)

Becky & Phil travel to India City #4—Morning

January 29 (Thursday)

Becky & Phil return to City #1—Afternoon
Pray for rest, direction, and smooth sailing as Becky & Phil will be constantly on the move during their travels!

January 30 (Friday)

Becky & Phil travel to India City #5—Morning

January 31 (Saturday)

Becky & Phil in India City #5

February 1 (Sunday)

Becky & Phil return to City #1 –Morning

February 2 (Monday)

Becky & Phil in India City #1

February 3 (Tuesday)

Becky & Phil travel to Dublin—Morning
Traveling India City #1, to Amsterdam, to Dublin: Pray for good traveling conditions during this long flight!

February 4 (Wednesday)

Becky & Phil in Dublin

February 5 (Thursday)

Becky & Phil Dublin to Grand Rapids—Morning
Traveling Dublin, to Amsterdam, to Detroit, and to Grand Rapids: Pray that Becky & Phil can recover quickly as they return home from a month of constant travels

One Light, Self Defense for Women


Date: March 23rd, 2013
Time: 9am-12pm; *Registration begins at 8:30am


WAR Chest Boutique
2790 44th St SW│Wyoming, MI 49519
Cost: Suggested donation of $5

*All donations will be designated toward WAR, Int’l’s
Domestic Safe House fund

*RSVP required by Wednesday, March 20th*
Call the WAR, Int’l Reception desk to place your reservation!
616.855.0796 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm EST)

The 3-hour workshop will teach:

  • Avoidance tactics
  • Self-defense misconceptions
  • Offensive/defensive techniques:(e.g., strikes and targets, chokes, grabs, bear hugs, and hair pulls)
  • One Light Self-Defense focuses on simple techniques to benefit women.

*Additional Details: Participants must be at least 11 years old and should dress in comfortable clothing and gym shoes. No flip-flops or jewelry, please. Participants must fill out a waiver on the day of the event prior to participating. Women under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.