An old, abandoned building on Oahu will soon be transformed into a safe haven for sex-trafficking victims.
The state handed over the land lease to a non-profit that’s now raising funds to renovate it.
Ho’ola Na Pua means ‘new life for children,’ and that’s exactly what the non-profit intends to do.
“Children are vulnerable, especially females are vulnerable to the ploys of those who want to traffic them and exploit them,” said Jessica Munoz, President and Founder of Ho’ola Na Pua.
“Once a child has been exploited or trafficked, they have severe trauma,” she adds. “So having a safe place for them to heal is very important to that healing process.”
The sanctuary is called Pearl Haven, and will offer schooling, mental health care, therapy, art, cooking classes and dance, just to name a few.
“It will have full time staffing, eight hour shifts, therapists, case managers, on-site school teachers, everything is provided on-site here,” Munoz adds
She says the goal is for girls to stay there for six to nine months, if not longer.
Pearl Haven would be the first of it’s kind in Hawaii. It’s for girls ages 11 to 17 and can house up to 32.
Munoz says the reason for not disclosing the location is for the girls safety.
Munoz says sex trafficking in Hawaii affects girls from all backgrounds. However, she says homeless and runaways are more high risk.
According to an Arizona State University study, Hawaii leads the country in buying sex online. The study states 1 in 11 adult men do so in the Aloha State.
Ho’ola Na Pua’s website adds within 48 hours of a child running away, one-third or 33% will be approached for sexual services.
“It’s important for the community to understand that this isn’t a new problem, it’s just now being recognized,” Munoz said.
To date, the non-profit has raised $3 million, but needs more to finish the renovations.
The total campaign is about $8.2 million. She hopes to raise at least $1 million by the end of this year.
You can learn more about Pearl Haven, or donate by clicking here.