WHO WE ARE

Beauty For Ashes is a non-profit 501-c3 organization founded by Lauren Spiewick (see Lauren’s story below) in 2014.  We support efforts in North Africa to prevent, rescue, and restore victims of human trafficking.  North Africa is a strategic location for combating human trafficking as it is the literal ground for which majority of the trade routes exist from all of Africa to Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

We currently support two projects in Morocco, in Fes and Casablanca.  We hope to expand into other North African countries, to help fight against the injustice of human trafficking.

Core Values

All human beings are intrinsically endowed with dignity and created with purpose and beauty.

Men and women are equally created for dignity and beauty, and are equal in value and worth.

No human being has the right to claim ownership of another human being, either by physical force, coercion, or deception regardless of relationship or monetary transaction.

Human beings are the greatest assets of every society, and it is in the best interest of everyone in a community to nurture and encourage the natural gifts, creativity, and talents of all its citizens.

ACTIVITIES

Research

In order to bring accurate awareness and offer appropriate and proper aid to the victims, research must be conducted. Along with collecting and assessing existing research date provided by the UN, US State Department, and other anti-trafficking organizations, Beauty for Ashes will conduct the following research campaigns:

Produce a comprehensive survey in the majority languages of Morocco, recruit local volunteers from universities, under the oversight of the President of Beauty for Ashes, and survey a diverse cross section of the population as possible from September 2014 – September 2015 in order to obtain a multi-dimensional understanding of the actual situation and cultural perception of trafficking.

Conduct extensive research into existing economically viable solutions to train trafficking survivors in skills to obtain and maintain gainful dignified employment.

Awareness

Partnering with local universities and organizations, Fragile: Beauty for Ashes will conduct and facilitate awareness campaigns across 2 segments of the population:
Those at high risk of being trafficked – currently understood to be young uneducated girls in isolated rural communities, although further research is needed to get a more accurate picture of who the highest risk populations are. As the research clarifies the situation we will adjust awareness target audience accordingly.

The second target audience will be the elite of society – those in the best position to join the fight against human trafficking, but who, historically, and sometimes unknowingly, have been the perpetrators of this crime. We will focus mostly on private high schools and universities in order to educate the emerging leaders of society on Human Trafficking according the UN definitions and standards.

Prevention

The most at risk population is teenage girls who have somehow fallen outside of the protective influence of their families. Beauty for Ashes will seek to teach these girls and provide for them so that they can continue their education and learn skills for gainful productive employment, as well as receive the care and nurture of responsible adults, that they may grow into women who are confident of their value and worth, minimizing a traffickers ability to deceive and manipulate them into slavery. This will include working alongside the court system to find appropriate boarding parents and setting up a scholarship fund to provide for their education. Fragile: Beauty for Ashes will provide mentorship and tutoring for every girl in the program and will work with every girl individually to help her achieve her own goals and dreams. For example: Asmae is 17 years old and lives in a government run facility for girls. Her father has disowned her because he is not married to her mother, who is unwilling or unable to keep her. She is at very high risk of being trafficking into a life of prostitution either domestically or internationally when she ages out of the center next year at 18. She is allowed to attend local public high school where she receives a minimal education, but she works hard outside of class to learn. Beauty for Ashes has been tutoring her and helping her maintain her grades while also providing her with a caring adult invested in her life encouraging her to work hard and celebrating with her when she achieves her goals – filling a necessary role of a parent for a child who has none. Her dream is to become a policewoman. She would qualify for a scholarship from Beauty for Ashes to pay her tuition in the police academy, to find her appropriate boarding with a family, and to provide for her books and uniform.

Prevention would also include providing temporary crises transition housing to girls and women who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the street.

Rescue

When specific cases of trafficking situations arise we will work alongside law officials and other organizations in order to remove victims from slavery situations as defined by the UN in accordance with UN anti-trafficking laws. Beauty for Ashes will offer crises transition housing for women who have been rescued and will seek long-term safe housing solutions.

Beauty for Ashes will set up a network of people willing to take in and care for newly rescued women and girls, working alongside of them until they are at a healthy enough place to pursue long term and self sustaining life solutions.

Rehabilitate

Beauty for Ashes will provide mentorship and counseling for women who have been rescued from trafficking situations. Trained counselors will be recruited, equipped and sent to work with these women. This will include training for local women in commonly accepted counseling practices and mentorship support relationships to enable women to walk alongside of each other through the continuing healing process.

Restore

Beauty for Ashes will offer literacy and life-skills classes to any woman who qualifies for the program. It will work one-on-one with every woman to identify and hone her existing skills and talents to help enable her to live a fulfilling and meaningful life that is enriching to her entire community.

To qualify for the program a woman must either be a survivor who has been rescued from human trafficking according to the UN definition of Human trafficking, or be deemed to be in a situation where, until something changes the status-quo she would be at a high risk of falling victim to a trafficker either through physical force or psychological deception. Each woman will be assessed on an individual basis by the President of BFA and at least one other director or full-time in-country volunteer.

FOUNDER’S STORY

The year after I graduated from college, I was given the opportunity to travel abroad for a year as a language and cultural intern in Morocco. I thought I would learn another culture and language and then get on with the business of becoming a famous historian. The passion and drive of my life took a drastic turn one afternoon when I met Samira. She was a middle class divorcée with a teenage daughter, who invited me to her home for tea one afternoon. When a young girl shuffled in the room to serve the tea, I naturally stood up to greet her, assuming she was the woman’s daughter. Samira flippantly said, “Oh, that’s not my daughter; that’s my maid.” In my surprise I fired off a hundred follow-up questions and discovered that the girl was about twelve years old, was purchased from her mother off of the street when she was about eight, slept on a mat on the floor in the back room, didn’t go to school, but was taught how to sew, cook, and clean. When the time was right she would be married off. This was considered a good life outcome, better and safer than living on the street. Samira seemed to believe that taking this girl in to work in her house was an act of charity worthy to be praised! As I walked home and saw a woman with a small filthy toddler begging on the streets, I began to think Samira might be right. Surely her “maid” was better off in the safety of her home than as a vulnerable street child, but something about it sat very wrong in my gut.  The term human trafficking had not yet become an Oprah-effected buzz word, and I had no category to process this in.

After I returned to the states I began to pursue my “normal American” career dreams, but the memory of that girl never strayed far from my mind. Two years later I met a representative from IJM who shared about modern day slavery and what was being done domestically and around the world. I knew I could not continue to live in the world as though this wasn’t happening. I became an awareness advocate in the United States, and I am thankful to see the growth in advocacy and awareness domestically. Of course a great amount of work remains to be done in the U.S., but my heart kept going back to that little girl in Morocco.

Eventually I returned to Morocco and was saddened to discover that not only did domestic slavery continue to be a cultural norm, but go-betweens from other countries were actively and successfully recruiting Moroccans for both sexual and labor exploitation. Traffickers were freely entering into the country from the south and trafficking sub-Saharan Africans into Europe using Morocco as a holding pen for women awaiting false paper work. Each of these phenomena requires an army of advocates fighting to tear down these destructive forces on every society, and yet there is still but a small choir of voices crying out against this evil. A large media campaign has brought awareness and official denouncement of the practice of purchasing little maids—and yet every year we hear reports of girls 12, 13 and 14 years old being killed at the hands of cruel owners who worked them far past their physical capabilities. 
      These deaths are a call to war—a war against injustice and a battle for lives. Every person is a unique gift to his or her community and to the world as a whole. Slavery in any form is a blight on every society. Only when we all come together to shine lights of truth into the darkness we cannot afford to ignore, will we see these girls and boys, men and women thrive and grow into who they were created to be—free people.

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