A company in northeast Mississippi is remodeling a home it intends to give away to an individual who has been rescued from human trafficking.
According to data published by the anti-trafficking group Polaris, there were more than 22,000 trafficking victims and survivors in the United States in 2019 – most of them women and children. Almost two-thirds of the victims/survivors (65%) had been caught up in sex trafficking (involving more than 8,000 separate situations); the remainder were victims primarily of labor trafficking. The average age of the victims when sex trafficking began was 17; for labor trafficking, it was 22.
Those statistics caught the attention of businessman Sean O'Rourke in Tupelo, Mississippi, where – according to the county sheriff – the epidemic of sex trafficking in early 2020 was "prevalent."
O'Rourke and his business partners decided to do something about it. His company buys and restores houses – and one of them, he says, would make a great home for one of those rescued victims.
"We've bought the house with the intention of helping someone – maybe the women who have been trafficked. Whether they come to our community or need to move in to our community, we'll give it to someone to live permanently," he tells One News Now.
The two-bedroom, one-bath house, he says, has "some awesome character with original hardwood floors and real neat character. We're going to remodel that house, top to bottom, from windows to air conditioning to roof and everything in between."
O'Rourke says his company plans on buying and remodeling one house a year to be given away to a victim and their family in need.
With tens of thousands being trafficked in the U.S., the businessman recognizes that one single house isn't going to put a dent in the overall problem.
"[But] somebody has to do something …. I understand it's just one house out of [the needs for] many people," he shares. "But you have to take at least one step – and then you don't know where that goes from there."
More information about the project is available at The ARK Effect on Facebook.