New Orleans, LA – The Eden House project hopes to offer six women two years of residential treatment with counseling and support to change their lives. Executive director Kara French, a former diplomat at the US embassy in Jamaica, has been working for the past five years in Louisiana on drafting legislation to stop sex trafficking. She says Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas told her about a program in Nashville, where he was police chief, called Magdalene House. That's now the model for the Louisiana project.
"Two and a half years after a woman enters into the Magdalene House program, 72 percent of them are clean and sober and living off the street."
Assistant State Attorney General Katherine Green says human trafficking laws have shifted since 2003 to focus on domestic victims - many of whom are young runaways.
"You can sell a person numerous times whereas drugs, guns - once they're sold they're gone."
French says Eden House would be the first facility in Louisiana to offer extensive help, beyond the short-term stays available at shelters.
"Helping one person and really changing their life - not just touching them in a good way but actually changing their life significantly forever - and it's really an amazing gift. And once people really start to know about the program I think that everybody in the community will come together and make this happen."
She says a house has been found to accommodate six women, and the group needs $115,000 by the end of December for a lease and operating expenses. Details are available online at edenhousenola-dot-org.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.