RICHLAND, Wash. - In the United States, an estimated 293,000 children are in danger of being sexually trafficked.
Over 200 victims of sex trafficking are estimated to be in the Tri-Cities alone.
A local organization wants those numbers to go down.
"There are so many people out there waiting desperately to be reached, for someone to hear them or see them," said Tricia MacFarlan, executive director of Mirror Ministries. "It's a really hidden crime."
Mirror Ministries is a faith-based organization that helps current victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. MacFarlan founded the organization in 2014, but she had been working with victims for about a decade, including spending some time overseas.
"I was hit square in the face with the fact that the exact same thing I saw when I was in Cambodia was happening right here in my own community," she said.
MacFarlan founded Mirror Ministries to fill a specific need she felt wasn't being met in Tri-Cities. The organization is meant to provide a safe space for victims or survivors of sex trafficking. They have trained advocates available to work with clients, and they also offer music and art therapy classes, Bible studies and more in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere.
The organization is based out of an unmarked building in Tri-Cities to help protect the privacy of clients. The main demographic they serve is women between the ages of 16 and 24, but they help people of all ages and all genders.
"Our clients range in age from 9 to 61," said MacFarlan.
Mirror Ministries sees around 65 clients at any given time. Right now, they have just three full-time staff, including MacFarlan, plus two interns and others who volunteer.
"It is a dark and hard place to be, to see that there’s so much evil in our community," said MacFarlan. "But it’s also a time when you get to see the light, the goodness in our community."
In 2019, MacFarlan would like to hire a supervisor for the volunteers, as well as possibly another advocate. They also are trying to develop a plan for a future restoration home for minor girls, and they plan to launch a new online outreach in January. In order to expand their outreach, they are trying to meet their year-end fundraising goal of about $35,000. So far, they've raised about half.
"When you get to see that hope finally break through in somebody’s eyes, when they've been so desolate and so desperate that really death was the only thing that seemed an inviting answer, that’s a really good day and you see that it’s all worth it," said MacFarlan.
If you're interested in donating to Mirror Ministries, you can do so online or by mail: P.O. Box 400, Richland, Washington, 99352. Mirror Ministries also has a 24-hour hotline number: (509) 212-9995.