As you read this, millions of people are being bought and sold against their will. Human trafficking is one of the most pressing issues of our time, with more than 20 million people enslaved today around the world (and it is alive and well in the US). In response, hundreds of people have created organizations to help fight against this crime, put steps in place to prevent it, and to care for survivors afterwards; Brian and Season Russo are two of those people. In 2010 Brian and Season decided to take action against human trafficking and created a social enterprise, Eye Heart World, that would focus on three categories: awareness, prevention, and aftercare.
To get started, Season and her mother created thirty bags to raise the funding for a safe home inside of their community - the community took their cause and made it their own, and every single bag was sold that day. Today, their efforts have caught fire and they have become change-makers that are changing the story for women and girls that are in need of being shown that they are valuable and have a purpose.
Survivors of human trafficking, whether that be forced labor or sexual exploitation, require a highly specialized level of care and support, which is where The Rose Center (based in Alabama), and The Rose Home (based in Wisconsin) come in to play. The Rose Center is a drop in facility for women who are severely at risk for becoming trafficked, or who are already being exploited. Supported by Eye Heart World, The Rose Center provides services for these women ranging from job preparation to group counseling and serves as a bridge between the world of trafficking and living an empowered life for survivors.
The Rose Home is a residential aftercare program that serves survivors from ages 18-25 through holistic, strength-based approaches. Treatment for the survivors at this home include individual therapy, life skills courses, and work preparation. With Eye Heart World's support, The Rose Home is where survivors can go to regain their confidence and overcome their trauma. You can take a look inside The Rose Home here. Eye Heart World also funds Response Bags, canvas bags filled with essentials like undergarments, blankets, toiletries, and letters of encouragement - a symbol of compassion that girls who often feel alone desperately need.
The prevention leg of Eye Heart World's mission is what they call the Heart Tour. The Heart Tour is a one-day event that engages girls who are at risk for human trafficking. Every event focuses on empowering these girls, targeted education, and tips for staying safe. Through local partners, Eye Heart World is able to sponsor every girl to attend this event and empower them to become strong women inside of their communities. You can help by signing up to plan a tour yourself, here. Last, but certainly not least, is their awareness initiative. Change is created when society is both aware and motivated to take action. Eye Heart World provides targeted trainings tailored to professionals like health care providers, social service providers, and public servants, teaching them what to look for and how to respond if and when they encounter a victim. While at the same time engaging their community with awareness resources.
To help fund these initiatives, Eye Heart World created a fashion line where each product is tied to one of their three branches of approach. We are proud to support Eye Heart World in fighting against human trafficking and empowering it's survivors with The Harriet Tote, which sponsors the aftercare resources for those on the other side of trafficking.
Eye Heart World understands the challenges that the women they are striving to help are facing, and are dedicated to empowering these women and instill in them the greatness that they are each capable of, and the freedom that they so greatly deserve.
Hear more about how Eye Heart World is helping fight against human trafficking from the founders themselves: