Tonya Stafford a sex slave survivor who was sold for sex was put on the market by her own mother at the age of 13. She was pregnant three times by age 17. 1 in 5 human trafficking victims in the US are in Texas and are often treated as prostitutes. Texas ranks #2 in the nation in human trafficking behind California. The Hope and Pearls Gala was a way for Tonya to help raise raise awareness, and to remember victims of human trafficking like 5 year old Shania Davis whose mother handed Shania over to a known convicted drug dealer to settle a $200 debt.
Shania Davis’s father Bradley Lockhart spoke and shared his emotional story with those in attendance wiping tears away as he began to talk. He said that he was not quite the speaker that the master of ceremonies Keenan Williams is and that he had not spoken publicly on this since 2012. He pleaded for everyone to get involved.
Dr. Elba Garcia was awarded with the Human Rights Award for her commitment and dedication to her community where she has helped to create programs that fight back against human trafficking such as diversion programs for prostitution cases.
VanDella Menifee, Board Member IGBTOK Inc. ended the event with closing remarks. VanDella shared with the guests that she has been in the same room with Tonya as she takes calls to help rescue a victim from human trafficking. In December around Christmas Tonya received a call for a human trafficking victim who needed her support. Tonya was able to find the victim temporary housing while waiting on the next step. VanDella stressed the fact that if they can save one life it is worth it. If they can rescue one more human trafficking victim it is worth it.
Take a look at the photos below and if you feel led to donate please visit http://www.igtbok.org/