Hidden In Plain Sight

March 2023

Imagine for a moment, working long hours into the night, your back hurting, your lungs stinging from the spicy dust of a well-known chip the factory you’re employed with is producing. Imagine enduring this while also being minor, still in high school.

People often forget that human trafficking is more than sex trafficking; it is also labor trafficking, and often exists in plain sight.

West Michigan is currently under the microscope for a local food production factory violating child labor laws.

In late February, the New York Times (The Times) published an article highlighting labor trafficking here in West Michigan. WOOD TV published an article locally.

This matter was brought to Women At Risk, International’s attention when Rebecca McDonald, founder & president of WAR, Int’l, received an email from a local employment placement firm,detailing their applicant screening practices and policies. Understandably, this firm wanted to disclose that their processes met legal guidelines which would help their clients meet legal guidelines too.

An Illinois-based food manufacturer that has production sites in Grand Rapids, MI hired a local employment agency, who allegedly hired the underage workers. The manufacturer has now hired an agency to conduct an independent review of staffing policies and plant conditions. This review is expected to take 60 days.

What can you do to make a difference? #CircleOfProtection

1) To better understand the risks, learn more here.

2) Resources for you, find them here.

3) Get trained to be a Civilian First Responder, read more here.

Create An Impact

March 8th is celebrated globally as International Women’s Day.

Yes, celebrate the women in your life! However, International Women’s Day is more than what we have done in the past. It is a day to come together and continue making life better for one another.

The history of this day

This sense of solidarity and need for change is what inspired the first Women’s Day. It began in 1908 with suffragettes marching on the streets of New York City protesting for equal rights, and the following year, National Women’s Day was declared in the United States. It gained international recognition in 1910, with women from over seventeen countries agreeing to observe a day to emphasize the fight for equal rights. In 1975, March 8 was officially designated by The United Nations as International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme

Organizers have selected yearly themes since 1996, ranging from ending hunger for rural women to ending violence against women. This year’s theme is about embracing equity in the world. This year’s slogan encourages us to do something in the name of women around the world—especially something we might not usually do.

The International Women’s Day website suggests actions such as calling out instances when women are excluded, reinforcing and supporting women’s triumphs, and encouraging women to further their education.

At Women At Risk, International

We are working to support and empower women every day of the year. Our partnering safehouses, both international and here in the United States, rescue and restore at-risk and wounded women by giving them a safe place to heal while providing counseling, education, skills training, and more.

Our vocational training and microenterprise partners give at-risk women the opportunity to earn an income with dignity, empowering them to safely support themselves and avoid exploitation. Educational and outreach programs in the United States and abroad offer women who desire to better their situation the power to do so.

Create An Impact

As you consider what you can do to help women around the world, here are three ways:

1. Link arms with your friends to co-host a WAR Chest Pop Up Boutique!

Learn more here or simply email party@warinternational.org today.

2. Volunteer at our headquarters or at events!

Sign up here or simply email volunteer@warinternational.org today.

3. Donate to our 911 Rescue Fund to help facillitate rescues!

Read stories of rescue here.

We wish all women around the world a very happy International Women’s Day!

Filled With Love

February has much to offer!

February 2023

Happy February, WARriors!

Love is in the air, mingled with flowers and candies and boxes of chocolates.

As you are no doubt aware, we love sharing how the strength of survivors is fueled through the encouragement and love of their spouses. We love seeing transformations because of love from friends, family, and WAR’s staff and partners.

Remember that a kind word can heal, transform, and empower!

Another thing we love sharing is the latest news and events, please keep scrolling!

Presidential Travel: March
This March, Becky McDonald, founder and president of WAR, Int’l, is headed to Germany to train U.S. Military in anti-trafficking. She will also be speaking to a group of women, possibly the Dept. of Defense school, and more. Because of the presentation she did for the men’s retreat in December, she may speak to chaplains who handle the many suicides in barracks. Please pray for wisdom as she seeks to be a blessing.

Follow Becky on Facebook!

Fresh USTC Designs
Straight from our U.S. Training Center, we are incredibly excited about these fresh designs from the Encompassed Creations!

They are in time for your Valentine’s Day purchase. As well as beyond as love is always in style.

Shop the Collection here!

Resource Page
With last month being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, our goal is to go from awareness to action! We encourage you to take a moment to discover what actions you can take to rise up against this injustice of our time.

As you are ready to take the next step, here are Resources For You.

Light Up Your World Monthly Zooms
Please join us on February 27th to hear from the heart of another courageous survivor. Our special guest speaker Pearl and WAR, Int’l Founder and President Rebecca McDonald will discuss trauma and healing.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and trafficking, Pearl will share with us her healing journey and provide an honest picture of the road to recovery. You will be inspired by her faith and perseverance in finding her voice so she can speak up not only for herself but also on behalf of all those who are struggling with the impact of trauma in their lives.

Visit our upcoming events page for additional details.

Galentine’s Extravaganza
Gather your girlfriends for some fun and set aside some time for yourself to take a deep breath, share some laughs with your girlfriends, and simply enjoy hanging out with us.

As part of the festivities, we will have door prizes, gifts, giveaways, and more!

Learn more here!

First-Ever Lunch ‘N’ Learn
Join us on February 21st from 11am-2pm at our U.S. Training Center for our first-ever Lunch ‘N’ Learn.

Rebecca McDonald, founder and president of WAR, Int’l, will be sharing her own personal journey of deepening her walk with God.

Learn More Here.

Resources For You

January 2023

-Join us on the 4th Monday of the month for our Light Up Your World Zooms to hear directly from survivors as well as experts in the field. Learn more here.

-Shop our Remembrance line which include the names and ages of human trafficking victims. #ShopToRemember here.

-Get inspired and read Stories Of Rescue here.

-Read Understand The Risks.

Call To Action: Time, Talent, Treasure

Host a Party or Event!
Volunteer at Events or WAR HQ

Share your Creative Skills
Become a Circle of Protection

Give Through Your Purchases
Give your sweat, space, or fundraising solutions

A Song for the Silenced

Short video in honor of human trafficking awareness.

I Have a Dream: Dinner with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Becky McDonald, Founder & President
-January 2023

The WAR Chest Boutique carries a fun deck of cards with a variety of questions to help learn the real heart of a person. One of my favorite questions is, “If you could have dinner with ANYONE, either from history or alive today, who would it be and why?” When asked, I usually give a stock answer, but today I would change my answer to “dinner with a man named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Years ago, I started hosting dinners at my home with men and women on specific issues, deliberately inviting those with opposing ideas, perspectives, expertise, or experience. But there was always one rule. NO ONE could be rude, sarcastic, or angry. Our conversation was a feast of curiosity, deep thought, and differing approaches to the same issue, but it had to be kind. Imagine such a dinner.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. captures our thoughts and hearts, both then and now. What fascinates me is that first and foremost, he was a shepherd of his flock, a pastor. No one goes into that career unless they desire to sacrificially serve, motivate, lift, and love people. This man was obviously brilliant, graduating from high school at age 15.

Yet, he certainly didn’t follow the ditty, “So heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good,” or so brilliant that they can’t relate to real life. He was anointed with grace and gentleness, and a stunning ability to communicate equally to all, whether they were a 10-year-old or the power elite.

Our deck of WAR Conversation Cards, available here asks questions like, “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you try?” But, if I had the honor of serving Dr. King dinner, I’d use his famous quotes as a platform for questions. If I invited you to sit at that table, I’d love to hear your questions as well. Remember the #1 rule and send me your questions!

I’ve italicized some of his famous quotes below and included my own thoughts on these rare bits of wisdom.

* Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude… Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
-Wow, what if that was the subject line for dinner? How would you incorporate that value into your life? I’d certainly want to know what story led him to that truth.

* I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear… Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend… Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
-Oh, that we had this kind of leadership today!!!
-Sounds a lot like scripture’s double love command to love your neighbor as yourself.

* Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase… If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward… Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle…
-As a founder, I can promise you nothing WAR, Int’l has accomplished would have happened if I’d needed (though I wanted) to see the whole staircase.
-What dreams are you holding back from because you want all the lights to turn green before you go down the road? Start running. If the light does turn red, screech to a halt before taking off again. Because if you shoot for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.

Another two of his quotes reflect why WAR, Int’l exists today. He said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Many of you know the story that, at the age of 14, began my passion to be a voice for the silenced. I do not fear the darkness we march into. I’ve witnessed for decades that when you bring darkness into the light, it loses its power.

Dr. King also said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Indeed! With the Light of the World, my passion is to shed light on a dark subject (such as human trafficking) so that you leave with hope, joy, and a compelling desire to be a circle of protection to those in your own circles of influence!

Before his brutal death, Dr. King closed his legendary speech with, “…We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop… I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land…”

Today. I honor this shepherd, this man of courage and ultimate sacrifice who walked with all of us in the valley of shadows to reach his mountaintop. We can do this. We too can dream.