FIGHT Ministries: Freeing Individuals From the Grasp of Human Trafficking.
(Based on an interview with Director Phyllis Brady)
FIGHT is a Christian, faith-based non-profit ministry that exists both in the United States and the Dominican Republic. The function of their ministry is to provide hope and healing to underage girls victimized by human trafficking in the Dominican Republic.
On the 16-acre property in the hills of the Dominican Republic, two safe houses have been built with the capacity of housing up to eight rescued female victims. There is the ability to double the occupancy with bunk beds in the future as needed. Solar power is used in all seven buildings that are located on the campus. FIGHT uses permaculture for therapy to teach about the ecosystem in planting that God created and to use it to feed the girls. There are several bee hives located on campus and they are in the process of learning about honey. They hope to sell honey and limes to offset some of the costs of running the safe houses.
FIGHT believes that everyone can find healing in our Savior, Christ. Through Him, they are developing faith-based programs centered around education, counseling, and the arts. FIGHT is focusing only on minor female victims and they are not planning to expand this demographic. Currently FIGHT is waiting on Conani, the Dominican equivalent of the Department of Human Services to certify their ministry as an approved safe house/orphanage for girls. This is a long, on-going process. FIGHT has been working for about six years to open and sustain a safe house.
At the beginning, they focused on prevention and then the opportunity to open a safe house was presented to them. FIGHT hopes to open by the end of the year and become an example to the community of how to handle trafficking victims well. They have a state of the art facility that has been prepared piece by piece and is unlike any other place on the island. The model that FIGHT will utilize can be duplicated across towns to heal our children through the power of Christ. Currently safe houses are places where many children are lumped together in an orphanage.
The majority of our girls will have never attended school and, if they have, the
average reading level is around 1st- 2nd grade. Their teacher and her assistant will work daily with the girls at their level to bring them up to grade level. The goal is that one day they can enter the public school system. Some girls who are 15 years old do not know how to spell their NAMES. Education is important to break the cycle of abuse and empower the girls to pursue careers to support themselves.
Counseling Girls in the care of FIGHT will attend daily therapy sessions that could include one-on-one sessions, horse therapy, and plant therapy. Equine therapy is a method that teaches relational and emotional skills to connect with others.
Through using a combination of musical instruments, pottery, jewelry making, pen making, drawing, and painting girls will have the opportunity to create and worship! The goal is to allow opportunities for the girls to create things like our creator has done.
Challenges of fighting human trafficking in the Dominican Republic
“Right now, our biggest challenge is getting the government agencies to help. Rescue forces call to see if we are open to take girls and sadly, we are ready but waiting to be certified. COVID definitely stopped the process, but now most things are open and they are still very slow to respond. The local orphanage ran by CONANI here was just raided and they arrested eight of their child care workers for physically and emotionally abusing the girls. Girls living in the orphanage complained of being severely punished and having food and water withheld.
The Dominican systems are poorly created and do not include adequate therapy. International Justice Mission is here. When they arrived they told us the Dominican Republic does not have anything set up for their trafficked victims. Education and training is severely lacking. Last year we were on the Tier 2 watch list which the Department of State Trafficking in Persons report. Sadly this means we are one step away from Tier 3, the worst list. This means very little is being done about a horrific problem. It’s difficult to handle the problem because government officials are usually a part of the large trafficking rings," says Director Phyllis Brady
How did you become involved in fighting human trafficking?
“In 2012, I was an elementary teacher living in Central Florida. Over Christmas break, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling the Lord call me to Google jobs in the Dominican Republic. I had no idea where the DR was on the map. I didn't even know what language they spoke. I found a school to apply to and I jumped back into bed because I was not going to move out of the USA. I was only a Christian for a couple years and I was just learning what it meant to have testing in my life and how to be obedient in everything He calls you to ... immediately. I waited on applying until a friend mentioned I was being disobedient. A very long story made short, leaving out a lot of miracles and works of the Lord, I applied and they hired me. In five short weeks I moved to the DR without ever fundraising or knowing what even a mission board was at the time. I have been here ever since and God continues to fill my bank account monthly with whatever He decides.
The Lord sent a couple from my home church in Florida soon after I arrived and FIGHT was birthed the next year. We had no idea human trafficking was such an issue here, and many people have no idea either, but the Lord showed us that this is why He sent us. FIGHT started off as prevention in the beginning. We spent time in the community and developed a jewelry ministry to learn about what was going on. We didn't want to be white heroes coming to fix something. We waited for the Lord to teach us and lead us.
In 2015, a stranger asked us if we were looking for property when we were at a local plaza in town. We were. We followed him outside of town, across a river, and down a broken road to a property. It was all mountainous with no roads. The man offered it to us for a very small amount. Sixteen acres! We asked a few churches to donate and we purchased it. God is amazing! FIGHT is filled with miraculous stories of the Lord! We actually do not fund raise as other ministries do and we see hundreds of thousands come in to build our facility. We know the Lord sent us and He is providing for His vision. We are blessed to be a small part.” -Director Phyllis Brady
Greatest Prayer Request from FIGHT:
We are in need of more Dominican staff once we are certified. We also would like to staff some positions with American missionaries. Hiring Dominicans means that we need to have more funds for payroll. So, using American missionaries cuts down on costs for employees and lets us focus more funds on the girls.