Iowa lawmakers have just sent a bill to the governor that would address human trafficking and a new group in north-central Iowa is working to help young women who are victimized by the practice. Joy Fopma of Blairsburg is helping launch the Wings of Refuge, based in Iowa Falls.
Fopma says she’s heard from an FBI official who says there’s a growing problem with human trafficking in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. “Iowa is a hub for traffickers because of our location,” Fopma says. “We’re in the heart of America. We intersect I-80 and Interstate 35 so it’s a great place for traffickers to meet and transport girls.”
The group is focused on three areas: rescue, restore and rise. Fopma says they’ll network with other organizations to help rescue victims of human trafficking. They’ll provide a safe place for survivors to heal in an environment that addresses the entire person: body, soul and mind.
Also, she says they want survivors to heal at their own speed while developing their individual gifts, educational needs, talents and abilities. “As you can imagine, there’s huge, deep, traumatic wounds that take a long time to recover from,” Fopma says. “Wings of Refuge mission is to provide unconditional love and care for those girls so that exploitation can end in their lives and they can heal and find a new life.”
She says one young woman who escaped from a sex trafficking ring is now under the care of the organization. “We have a temporary safe house where we’re able to house our girl right now but we are in critical need of getting a permanent location,” Fopma says. “We are depending on people who are stirred to give to get our home off the ground and going. We’re expecting great things from Iowa. It’s been amazing to see how people have been called and been willing to help out.”
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)