What happened in your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. This is the message Georgia native Holly Lynch gives to young Costa Rican girls who have been victims of sex trafficking.
Ms. Lynch is a part of the organization Seeds for Hope. The goal to open a house in the central Pacific for girls, ages 12 to 17, who once were forced to exploit their body, and not just provide them a place to live, but education and skills for the future.
“Just because they have been sexually exploited doesn’t mean their life is over,” Ms. Lynch said.
Her journey with working with teens began when Ms. Lynch was a volunteer at the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
She said she thought it was destiny when she met Claire Brackmann, a current Peace Corps volunteer, in January during a vacation trip to Costa Rica. Ms. Brackmann introduced Ms. Lynch to her idea of starting a home for young women in the sex trade, and Ms. Lynch joined the project.
In April, Ms. Lynch gave up her life in the States to live with a host family in Costa Rica, and began Tica Toes as a way to get girls jobs. The girls make and sell a jewelry product that resembles an anklet but connects to a toe. It’s all made out of buttons.
The nine girls who are in Tica Toes are young. Some are pregnant and some have children.
“Some are not sure who the fathers are. A lot were raped between the ages of 6 and 8,” Ms. Lynch said. For the girls, prostitution had been going on for generations. Their mothers sold their bodies as a source of income, and they are expected to do the same.
Without an education, and with children it made it hard to leave that life, she noted. “For one girl it became a cycle where mother and daughter will go out as a pair,” said Ms. Lynch.
Tica Toes shows the girls that there other ways to make money. All the proceeds go towards buying rice, beans, diapers and other essentials the girls need for survival. The girls also receive education on healthy lifestyles.
With a master’s in business from The Citadel, Ms. Lynch cites her background and her faith as factors in her success.
“This is definitely a calling from God. Yea, I was making a lot of money in the States but this is more important and will change the future. I know the Lord has some really big plans.”
According to Ms. Lynch, when asked what she wanted in the future one girl responded that she wanted an education and to learn to speak English so her baby doesn’t have to do the same thing she did.
Once the Seeds of Hope house gets established, probably in July, Ms. Lynch will live with the girls.
Until then, the organization needs help to raise the money needed to pull off the project. More information is available on the Web site.