Real Stories of Rescue

“Most stories are never told due to their danger and confidentiality…but because of you, they’re real rescues.” Becky McDonald

November 2022


Ellie.

Mai cut the cooked egg into four sections, dividing it equally between her four hungry children. With another one on the way, there would soon be five hungry months to feed.

Two weeks after her new little one was born, Mai sold Ellie, her beautiful baby girl, to local traffickers. When our partnering safehouse heard about the situation, they tracked Ellie down and loaned Mai money to buy her back, despite threats from the traffickers.

Now adopted into a safe home, Ellie is blossoming under the love and care she needs.

Our 911 Rescue fund grew out of this partner’s request in the dead of night to rescue this precious baby girl who had been sold to Thai traffickers for $200. Becky, founder and president of WAR, Int’l, was shocked they had to ask for the funding to rescue. Becky promised the money blindly, saying she would have a garage sale if necessary, and begged them to rescue the baby without delay!


Moses.

At four months old, Moses was an adorable baby—but his family offered to sell him to anyone who wanted him. In this situation, he came to the notice of a group of our partners, who took turns watching him. Fortunately for Moses, we found him before a trafficker did. While the law tied our hands, we were able to use money from the 911 Rescue Fund to pay for his immediate needs.


Nadia.

Just recently, we helped facilitate the rescue of a woman running from the mob after she was discovered hiding in a church. She was so frightened she attempted to jump out of a moving car when someone tried taking her to a hospital. Two WAR volunteers who are fluent in her language were able to calm her down, and our friends at Homeland Security helped us get her into a safehouse. While addressing her medical needs, we discovered she’s almost blind in one eye and needs glasses. Having funds readily available to cover these costs is crucial.

When you help a woman escape exploitation, you witness the painfully high cost of freedom. While she leaves abuse behind, in many cases she’s leaving everything she’s ever known. She may never see family again, especially if they were part of the problem. Starting over is exhausting, let alone simultaneously navigating trauma and healing.

Freedom is not free but painfully expensive in a thousand different ways.


Meadow.

Meadow’s father was her trafficker. Rather than cherish and protect his daughter, he sold her innocence to local politicians. Though Meadow is now safe with her mother in hiding, she bravely attempts to overcome the past betrayal and trauma. For Meadow, making sugar scrubs has been a source of peace, a small part of repairing the brokenness of the past. However, Meadow’s future also benefits from this therapeutic process. As Women At Risk, International proudly stands beside this brave young girl, we ask you to stand with us to support those at risk in our own communities.


Ready to start making an impact today?

GIVE TODAY

LEARN MORE HERE

#TogetherWeRescue

From sweater days to wooly nights

How is it that November is already upon us? This month kicks off the beginning of the holiday season, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, your calendar is filling up fast. That’s why we want to notify you ahead of time what opportunities there are to partner with WAR, Int’l in making a difference during this busy time of year.

Whether participating in our Giving Tuesday Campaign, joining in the festivities at a pop-up event, or checking items off your holiday shopping list at WAR Chest Boutique, you are helping us continue our mission of rescue, restoration, and empowerment. We are beyond grateful for your continued encouragement and support.


Giving Tuesday: November 29, 2022

The word we have chosen as a theme for Giving Tuesday 2022 is impact.

We all want to make a positive impact on the world around us, especially for those in need. We have a goal to raise $40,000 for our 911 Rescue Fund, and your gift empowers immediate rescue and intervention when life-saving action is required. A single act of kindness can make a powerful difference. Together, we can create an impact by giving to rescue, restore, and empower vulnerable lives around the globe.

Learn more about our Giving Tuesday campaign here.

Donate here.


In Case you Missed It…

Our A Holiday to Remember lookbook is here! We are delighted to display our beautiful products for you to purchase, share, and enjoy, and it is our hope you find a sense of peace and purpose in shopping our collection of handcrafted gifts this holiday season. We’re confident you’ll not only discover items your friends and family will love, but you’ll also empower the rescued and at risk by purchasing the work of their hands.

Shop our Holiday Lookbook here!


Becky at Wheaton

Join Becky as she speaks at the IJM Chapter of Wheaton College on Wednesday, November 2 from 4:00-5:00 pm CT. Come learn about human trafficking and how you can combat this evil in your community. Products made by and in support of rescued and at-risk individuals will also be available for purchase after the event until 7:30 pm. Find additional details here.


Joy 99 Live

WAR Chest Boutique invites you to join us on Friday, November 4 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm EDT for a live remote radio broadcast with our friends at Joy 99. Come on over and spin the Joy 99 prize wheel and enter our drawing for a chance to score an exclusive gift basket from WAR Chest Boutique! For any in-store purchases of $30 or more, you’ll also receive a FREE gift of a Compass Key Ring made in our U.S. Training Center.

Learn more at upcoming events.


Holiday Gift Fair

We’ve been invited to host a pop-up shop of WAR Chest Boutique products at the Lansing Grace Alternative Holiday Gift Fair on Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm EDT. If you’re in the area, come join the festivities and support WAR, Int’l along with other fair trade merchants. A bake sale and children’s activities will also be part of the merriment. More info here.


Becky Speaking

On Sunday, November 6 Becky will be speaking at the 11:15 am service of First Congregational Church of Christ in Angola, IN. You are invited to hear her share about the realities of trafficking in our world today and the work we’re accomplishing at WAR, Int’l, particularly in Afghanistan and Ukraine. You will hear stories of rescue and hope and have opportunity to shop products made by rescued and at-risk artisans around the globe.

Learn more details here.


Bombshell Birthday Bash

Come kick off the holiday shopping season and stop by our pop-up shop at the Bombshell Beauty Lounge on Saturday, November 19 from 10 am-2 pm. As part of their anniversary celebration, we have been invited to take part in the festivities, and we hope you’ll join us! The Bombshell Birthday Bash is a great way to support WAR, Int’l while also having some fun! Find more info here.


Light Up Your World – November 28th

Don’t forget to join us for another survivor testimonial on this month’s Light Up Your World Zoom call! On Monday, November 28 special guest AJ will once again be joining us to share more about her personal journey of becoming a birth mother and finding healing from trauma and addiction. As she shares, your heart will be deeply touched, and you will find AJ is more than a survivor–she is also a THRIVER who has made it her life’s work to empower other survivors as they traverse the path to healing.

Visit our upcoming events page for additional details.


My Favorite Color is October

October 2022


As the days grow crisp and the leaves begin to turn, the world about us is aglow with autumn splendor. With myriads of fall activities and all things pumpkin spice, October bestows bushels of fun before ushering us into the upcoming holiday season. At WAR, International, we are excited to help you jump into fall with some fun new opportunities to partner with us and party with a purpose this October!

NEWSWORTHY UPDATES


A Holiday to Remember
Candles flickering in frosty windows. Pine cones. Snowflakes. Mugs of delicious hot chocolate. Cozy cabin aromas. All these holiday scenes float through our minds, inviting us to embrace each moment with those we love. And as we compose our upcoming holiday lookbook, joy is abounding as we seek to capture all these delightful “feels” and display our beautiful products for you to purchase, share, and enjoy. Our holiday hope is for you to gather with your family and friends to cultivate togetherness and invite All The Memories the season has to offer.

Until the release of our A Holiday to Remember Lookbook, why don’t you pop on over and shop our stunning collection of other lookbooks here!?

Update on the Great Flood
The restoration company is working hard to clean up the water damage before the repairs and rebuilding begin. Because of the damage done to portions of the upstairs flooring, we have had to move all staff office spaces downstairs, with the exception of our U.S. Training Center. On many of the now exposed boards found on the staircase or other interior building structures, you can once again see the scripture verses that girls from a Michigan safehouse inscribed beneath the surface All Those Years Ago. For those boards we need to remove, we are thinking of repurposing them into a mural. More on that when a decision is made!

To stay up-to-date on the latest, follow our WAR, Int’l Facebook page.

If you wish to help with the costs of restoration, please consider leaving a financial gift here.

In Case you Missed it…
As this month’s second blog post, we have shared an editorial interview done by VoyageMichigan Magazine where you will have the chance to hear founder and president Becky McDonald’s story in her own words. You will be inspired by her passion and commitment to helping those whose voices have been silenced, while also learning more about the history and mission of Women At Risk, International.

Read the latest blog post here!

OCTOBER EVENTS


Hear Becky in Person!
We would like to personally invite you to join Becky on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at 6pm at New Life Baptist Fellowship. She will be sharing the work of Women At Risk, International as well as stories of rescue and hope. Product made by and in support of rescued and at-risk artisans will also be available for purchase during the evening. Find additional details here!

Cops, Coffee, Donuts!
Invite friends and family to join our annual Coffee with a Cop event on October 5 from 9:30-11:00am at our Grandville location. Enjoy a time of community, coffee, and donuts where you can learn what our local cops are doing to combat trafficking and their advice to help you do the same! There’s no need to register – just show up with your questions and be ready for a fun time! Learn more here.

From Survivor to Thriver
Don’t forget to join for us another survivor testimonial on this month’s Light Up Your World Zoom call! On Monday, October 24 special guest Pearl and WAR, Int’l founder and president Becky McDonald will be leading a conversation on overcoming trauma as Pearl shares her story and provides an honest picture of the path to healing. Prepare to be inspired by her courage and determination in not only finding her own voice, but also to speak on behalf of others struggling with the impact of trauma.

For additional details, visit our Upcoming Events page here.

Dress-up Time!
WAR Chest Boutique invites families to join us on October 29 from 10:00am – 12:00pm for treats & tales! Princess Jasmine and Sleeping Beauty will be there to read stories and pass out candy, crayons, and coloring books. Also available will be our kid’s bead bar where your littles can expand their imaginations and bring home their treasured creations. Free for all, make sure to dress up as your favorite superhero, princess, or storybook character! Find the details here!

Book your Holiday Pop-Up Party ASAP! Or email- party@warinternational.org.

Daily Inspiration: Meet Rebecca McDonald

Author: VoyageMichigan Magazine
September 2022

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca McDonald.

Hi Rebecca, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.

I had the greatest privilege in the world of growing up on the Indian Subcontinent in Bangladesh and Pakistan. As a tiny child, my father, an American surgeon, took me to the golden land of Bangladesh. I attended boarding school in Pakistan. All my formative years were spent in lands steeped in Islam. My playmates were mostly Muslims but Hindu and Buddhist as well. My earliest memories are of “playing house,” which meant making “curry” from our mud pies and praying on “make-believe” prayer mats.

At the age of 14, a watershed experience set me on the course of action that my life has followed ever since. My family stayed through the bitter war of independence from Pakistan. The carnage for women was especially horrific. In the poor countryside, women were property bought and sold in a marriage contract. As in all wars, property is attacked. The women were no exception.

Every day I went to my father’s hospital after school to pack 300 units of relief after the war for the most destitute families. I had a helper and playmate. Her name was Neehru, and she, too was 14.

Neehru was a Muslim girl that had been thrown away at my feet by the men of her family for the crime of resisting rape. It is not common for Bengali men to rape their women, but every culture of the world has predatory men and women.

Neehru’s real crime was that she fought back. To teach her she was only property with no voice and no right to fight back, they poured acid down her throat and burned her vocal cords forever. This is a frequent occurrence. The acid of Neehru’s suffering burned a hole in my heart and set me on the pathway that I have been on ever since, of giving voice to the silenced cries of women and children.

My passion is to create safe places around women and children at risk wrapping arms of love around them and empowering them to rewrite the stories of their lives. Since returning to America, I have added to my efforts to open the eyes of my American sisters to the plight of women globally.

In 2006, Women at Risk International became a registered, separate 501c3 entity, even though I had been reaching out to women decades prior. Our goal at WAR, Int’l is to see captives set free; to address 14 different risk issues that prey on vulnerable men, women, and children. We are partnered with more than 171 individuals and organizations in 45 countries, and we continue to bring a voice to the voiceless through these partnerships.

WAR, Int’l now has a storefront boutique & online boutique filled with items made by rescued women from all around the world – including here in the United States through our US Training Center program in Michigan. We invite people to shop with a purpose, bringing hope and dignity to women who have suffered lives of trauma and exploitation. We want to be a circle of protection for these women.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?

Firstly, whenever you are a founder & entrepreneur, you are learning organically, from the ground up. There’s not a lot of models to look to & learn from, so you must lead with humility & a good sense of humor to be able to laugh at your mistakes, learn from them & pivot quickly. When excellence is a core value these are vital ingredients & demand a commitment to any obstacle. At the end of the day, every obstacle is an opportunity in disguise.

Women At Risk International addresses 15 risk issues; the one we’re most known for is human slavery. The truth of these stories is dark, horrific, & gut-wrenching. Whenever you present those kinds of stories, it has to be done in a way that your audience, your constituency, and your circle of influence respond not with fear but with a heart of compassion that leads to action. There is a real challenge in presenting this subject with transparency while staying confidential & without eliciting disgust or anger. Those obstacles must be overcome; the goal must be to light a fire of passion to create a legacy of safe places & enlist hearts to use their time, talent & treasure to make a difference.

Secondly, the depth of brokenness & horror that the survivors we serve are subjected to demands an excellence all of its own – safety, confidentiality, trauma-informed care, persistence, & unending compassion must invade every aspect of what you do.

Lastly, when you choose to make your passion an area that is unaddressed by society as a whole, you are the tip of the spear & you will hit walls of ignorance, fear & disbelief. 30 years ago, when I began fighting this century’s fastest-growing arm of crime, slavery, people didn’t know what human trafficking was. Being credible & believable & yet not terrifying your constituency requires a lot of diplomacy & persistence. Today, people know what human trafficking is, so it’s no longer an obstacle. However, they still think it’s a foreign problem & are unaware that the greatest risk is within our own nation, to our own children. Up to 300,000 minors per year, AMERICAN citizens with constitutional rights, are at risk & few are talking about it. There’s no such thing as a smooth ride when you start something that is so unknown. The good news is people really do care – overwhelmingly so – when they are exposed to such broken darkness in a way that shows that rescue & healing really can happen. When you give them practical ways to make a difference from the sanctity of their home to those they love, there’s a genuine response.

Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” My experience, WAR, Int’l’s experience, is that good people really want to set the captive free, be a circle of protection to those they love & bring hope & healing.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?

What I’m most proud of is the survivors we work with. They are the heroes of the WAR world who have been to hell and back, put their lives back together, risen up & flourish. We have graduated doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, mommies, teachers, goat herders, cosmetologists, counselors, bakers, candlestick makers – whatever their dream is. Seeing them go from horrific abuse to powerful individuals is what makes it all worthwhile.

What sets us apart is that we specialize in creating circles of protection around those at risk through value-added, culturally sensitive interventions. We are most known for our fight against one of the many risk issues we address, human trafficking: this century’s fastest-growing arm of crime.

We train the WAR world that there are 4 core values that are unique.

First, we believe in wrap-around, holistic services. We address all the needs of our rescued survivors & operate like an umbrella, where we pull in all their needs.

Secondly, we believe in sustainability. We want our survivors & programs to create revenue streams that pay their overhead so that they are not solely dependent on donations. Ideally, donations are for growth, not for overhead. We’re very intentional in helping diversify & have multiple revenue streams. We do not just rescue but help that individual dream of a future, plan a career path, & find ways to avoid being re-victimized.

Thirdly, we are passionately intentional about cultural sensitivity in all programs. What that means is that in any of our 58 countries, no 2 safehouses will look alike. They must fit the cultural value system of that nation, that people group, in order to be effective & long-lasting.

Finally, we believe that anti-trafficking & addressing risks to marginalized people is timely. This generation, globally, is born with a social justice gene in their DNA. Like never before, when this generation gets into positions of leadership, they are going to address the social ills about them. This gives us great hope for the future.

What do you think about happiness?

There is no joy like seeing a man, woman, or child rescued, restored, & empowered to walk in worth & dignity. Even greater is the luxury of hindsight. We can look back on decades of work & see generational change. When grandparents, parents, & children are all united in an effort to end the risks that plagued their family, environment, and world & are then restored together, that is systemic change. On a personal level, when a survivor finds their voice after being silenced, my joy is boundless. My passion is to help them find their voice, whether it be professionally, physically, emotionally, artistically, musically, in their own way, at their own pace, or in their own time. Longfellow said that the voice is the organ to the soul. Till there’s no breath left in my body, I will use my voice to bring survivors to a place of hope & healing & empower them to find their own voices.

I Call Out

Author: Kayla, WAR, Int’l Intern
September 2022


As a teenager in my late teens, I call out for the injustice being done to my generation. I call out for the voices that are silenced. I call out for freedom and protection for children and teens who are vulnerable. I call out for moms and dads to be involved.

I am calling out because it takes many voices to be heard, and I want to voice something that I see is a problem. Many people, including myself, have believed that our voices don’t have value or won’t make a difference. This is my cry to make a difference—not as a political resume but as a voice of freedom.

I have been given this opportunity to share what is heavy on my heart and to invite you to join me in calling out for freedom!

A Cry for Men, Women, and Children to Take Action!

I look around my country in the land of the free, and I see a lot of brokenness and isolation. I see people vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited. I call out for moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas to create circles of protection! We like to turn a blind eye to what’s happening, but we can’t! We have to get uncomfortable and reach out to people who are hurting!

This is our problem! We need to do something. We have an epidemic of slavery transpiring in our country! According to the U.S. State Department, at least 1.5 million people within North America fall victim to sex or labor trafficking. Friends, 1.5 MILLION PEOPLE in North America! Don’t think of that number as merely a statistic but as representative of other human beings like you and me, each with a name and a face, each with their own hopes and dreams, each with their own fears and insecurity. People like you and me who are enslaved and being robbed of their future.

I plead with people to take a risk and step up for the voiceless by educating themselves so they will not be caught off guard! The internet and COVID -19 have changed the face of trafficking as we know it. According to Statista.com, 83% of human trafficking is facilitated through the internet.

The popularity of technology and social media has increased trafficking and made it easier for predators to find victims. In a world where a lot of kids and teens are attached to their phones, it makes sense that traffickers have changed tactics. It is much easier to deceive and entice someone on the internet.

I challenge parents and kids to set up precautions and have conversations about the risks that the internet and social media present. It seems so innocent until it’s not! Traffickers know that kids and teenagers are vulnerable, and they use this to their advantage.

Take a stand today and have a conversation with your kids about internet safety. You can’t put your kids in a box to “protect” them from this issue. Parents need to have open and honest conversations about this topic. Talk about “red flags” and boundaries that can be put in place to safeguard them from being exploited. It means being practical and smart as you handle this new generation of technology at your fingertips. Circle around your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren! They are lonely, confused, and hurting. Being a teenager is not easy, so give grace but also give truth. They need you to circle them in protection and love.

To the teenager and beyond, if there’s anything you take away from this message, know that you have a voice! Will you stand with me to reach out not only to our peers but also to our communities?! Not in anger, but with love and a heart to listen. As I wrap this up, I want to communicate a spirit of humility that I am right there with you wrapped in my own comfort bubble, and this is the beginning for me to break out of my own comfort zone one step at a time. That’s all I ask—to take one step at a time!

This is Kayla calling out!