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Today, we wanted to share an opinion piece written by one of our Advisory Board members, Rabbi Lee Bycel. Lee recently went to Amsterdam and Berlin to interview Syrian refugees about their journeys and to learn more about the the fears Lee and others have about these refugees.

We are grateful for Lee’s support of 3 Generations and hope you will read the full article as we think this piece is an important one to share. For the full article, click here.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
“In these dark times it is courageous people in their thirties like Duezen, Chantal and Mazen, and many others, that shine a bright light and seek to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation. The Syrian refugee crisis is the great moral challenge of our time; it may very well define who and what we are as a nation. Now is the time to grant asylum to more refugees and to do proper vetting so that we can protect our safety. Now is the time for the Jewish community to host Syrian refugees in their communities. Now is the time to open our arms and embrace the refugee. It will take courage. However, the risk in not acting is that of losing the soul and character of our people – and that is a risk we cannot assume.”

Lee is the rabbi of the Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa, California. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, currently leading courses including ‘Holocaust and Genocide’ and ‘Contemporary Political Prophets’. In addition to serving our our Advisory Board, Lee is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

By Lindsay Gebhart, Director of Development

In June Facebook once again changed their algorithm, but to most people the difference was subtle. To the many nonprofits who have “pages” on the site, it was not.

To sum up what Facebook changed, they decided that there wasn’t enough original content on the site i.e. “I went to the grocery store today, and they were out of strawberries!” and in their place were pics of memes, shares of silly twitter statuses, etc. Facebook was created so people who know each other could communicate, and they wanted to return to that original purpose.

Here are their stated changes and their purpose:

1) Posts from friends and family will get top priority on users’ News Feeds.
2) After those posts Facebook prioritizes posts that “inform” and posts that “entertain.”
3) Then they prioritize posts with “authentic communication.”

These are all great in concept, but they basically mean that:

1) “Pages” don’t show up nearly as easily.
2) Only “Page” content with “authentic communication” tends to appear on News Feeds.

What is authentic communication? We quickly noticed one thing it is NOT: A link to an outside website.

Facebook pages serve a lot of purposes for nonprofits. They educate about issues the nonprofit is working to solve; they galvanize people to sign petitions or call their elected officials. They also serve as a way to fundraise, though generally in a small way.

One of the best ways for us to raise money is through matching funds, and we have been fortunate that Global Giving has offered us matching funds three times in the last six months. They have been an incredible boon to our small organization, but the only way to get the funds is if money is donated by an individual then matched by Global Giving.

We have posted links about this amazing opportunity and gotten very little response. We were confused and then we noticed that these posts were not even appearing on our own Timelines, then we looked at the page and saw the post reach: The first day 113 people were reached. The second, 43. 43 out of 2,150 likes!

Granted, Facebook doesn’t exist to raise money for nonprofits. But when you take away a huge tool for small nonprofits to communicate with our constituents our hands become very tied.

That said, if you want to donate to our Global Giving matching campaign go here

The longer the refugee crisis in Europe continues the more vile stories seem to emerge about the horrific crimes happening concurrently. Here are the responses of our staff to today’s news that refugees who cannot afford to pay smugglers are being sold for their organs:


Is this real?

That is the first thing I think when I read a headline like, “Refugees who cannot pay people-smugglers ‘being sold for organs.’” My mind starts to do backbends. This seems like a plot of a Hollywood horror movie, some sort of modern “Hostel” nightmare. Who would do such a thing? What sort of person could kill others for a profit? After I think that, I realize, “Lots of people could, and lots of people have.”

History shows that people kill one another for all sorts of reasons, and money can easily be a primary motivation. This is what we have: 65 million refugees, an unprecedented number, surrounded by people ready and willing to take advantage of those numbers and their inherent anonymity. With those numbers of course you could kill and get away with it. Of course someone has found a way to make money off of it. Of course, like many other real-life horror stories, many will simply be unable to believe it. But we must believe these stories, because ignoring them or denying them takes us one step closer to even larger human tragedies, like genocide.


This is extremely depressing and seems like the plot of a horror film rather than the grotesque reality that it sadly is. I realize that organ trafficking has been going on for a long time, but to target and then murder migrants who are at an extremely vulnerable moment in their lives makes me sick.


This is a disgusting example of the kinds of atrocities refugees and trafficking victims could potentially face on a daily basis. I had heard of “organ harvesting” before, but to read these articles and contextualize it within a European perspective is completely unthinkable. Clearly though, organ harvesting is a real and systematic operation affecting large numbers of people. It is one of the many horrors facing victims of human trafficking; it is also one of the many sub-crises within the ongoing and overarching refugee crisis.


Criminals are adept at profiting from other people’s tragedies and as more are displaced the more successful and evolved the criminal element becomes.  First we learned of smuggling people out of conflict zones (arguably that was only to help them), then we learned of organized human trafficking networks including sex trafficking of children and today we heard of organ harvesting.

But wasn’t it always thus? The use of humans as cargo is hardly a new problem. Slavery has existed for thousands of years along with prostitution and sexual exploitation of the vulnerable and the young. Sexual violence during the Holocaust and in the refugee crisis after World War II was widespread, albeit little discussed and taboo for many years after.

So why does today’s revelation shock us so? Why does the idea of killing a person for their organs strike us as fundamentally worse than someone being sent to an inevitable death on an unseaworthy boat?

For some of us it might because the desecration of an intact body violates religious edicts and beliefs.

I guess for me it is the idea that at their absolutely most vulnerable moment, robbed of hope, they had their bodies taken apart.  When we are no longer whole we have lost our true selves. Aren’t we all more than the sum of our parts?

Article published July 5th, 2016 in the The Independent: Refugees who cannot pay people smugglers ‘being sold for organs’

Turkey For many of us airports are a necessary evil and for others they represent places of excitement, of partings and unitings. Tears of sadness and tears of joy. Recently some of them have become places of tragedy, terror and fear. Not all airports look the same, are as big as others or offer the same services, but across the globe some just stand out as special places. For me Istanbul Ataturk airport is such a place. If you’ve been there you’ll never forget it, it’s a place unlike any other I have visited. And not because of building itself.

It is so much more than the meeting place between Europe and Asia, more than a place to change planes, more than a regional hub, more than a place where Starbucks sits next to Turkish coffee. It stands out because of the people. Over 10 million people come and go each year, transiting from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia, it is certainly cosmopolitan. But to me why it stands out is because it is the absolute melting pot of our world today. A crossroads of more diversity than any other place I’ve ever visited on earth. And that makes it special and truly beautiful.

This week’s bombing, the terror and the loss of life, is an assault on the best of everything and everyone our globalized world has to offer. It shattered the hopes and dreams of that beautiful melting pot of humanity. An attack on that place IS an attack on us all.

Here at 3 Generations we mourn the loss of life, we pray for the injured and those who lost loved ones. We also believe that what happened at Ataturk airport, thousands of miles from here, puts our faith in common humanity to the test.

But in Istanbul, life moves on, planes are flying and the people of Istanbul and particularly those of Ataturk airport, are not daunted, they are working and healing and going about their business, an example to all of us. We salute them.

Jane Wells

We are excited to welcome our newest staff member, Kelly Thoma, to the 3 Generations team. Kelly will be taking over for Luke Sutton who recently left us to return home to Nebraska pursue his graduate degree. We wish Luke the very best in his next steps, and we are excited to have Kelly on the team.

Kelly Thoma

Before joining 3G Kelly spent the last 3+ years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, working on both the Global Development and U.S. Programs teams. She also had the opportunity to serve as a summer fellow in Kenya at an organization operating micro-clinics in the poorest areas of Nairobi.

Kelly received her BA in Medical Anthropology, Global Health and Drama Production from the University of Washington. She has always loved documentary films and is thrilled to be a part of a team where she can pursue that passion. Until now, Kelly has lived in the Pacific Northwest and just recently moved to New York from Seattle, so she is still struggling to come to terms with this thing called “heat.” She currently enjoys volunteering with Rooftop Films in Brooklyn and lives on the Upper West Side with her husband.

On Saturday, March 5, 2016, our short film A System of Justice had its world premiere at the Manchester Film Festival. Executive Director Jane Wells was on hand and thrilled to share this powerful story with a global audience. We thank all of the dedicated individuals who made this film possible.

We are proud to partner with the nonprofit organizations Resurrection After Exoneration and The Innocence Project to amplify Glenn Ford’s story. Ford suffered great injustices throughout his life, and we are honored to offer our intimate portrayal of his final days and legacy.

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By 3G Executive Director Jane Wells

Pretty much everything. How can we talk about the genocide in Darfur without referencing sexual violence towards women? Or comprehend ISIS without recognizing their treatment of Yazidi women? At 3 Generations some were skeptical when we broadened the scope of our human rights mission, and feature documentaries, from genocide (The Devil Came on Horseback) to include sex trafficking (Tricked). Thankfully the world is finally getting on the same page. Hopefully no one will question the place of environmental degradation (our new feature A Different American Dream) in the chalice of social justice.

In June 2014 I went to North Dakota for the first time. I had heard at some of the screenings of Tricked, that young Native girls were being kidnapped off reservations to service men working on the oil fields of the Bakken Formation — the largest shale oil field in North America.

Over the course of a week I traversed the Bakken in search of my story — one about sex trafficking. What I had not expected was to be seduced by the stunning beauty of the land, nor was I prepared for the extent to which the environment was being ravaged and desecrated. I found a new, parallel story to the trafficking one, — a story I thought of as the rape of Mother Earth.

And so the idea for our new feature film A Different American Dream was born. Over the last 20 months I have been back to North Dakota six more times. This week I came to show the finished film to the members of the MHA Nation of Fort Berthold who are the principal characters in our film. It was a completion of sorts, bringing two world full circle.

As I flew home I saw this headline in the local paper: ‘Despicable’ sex trafficker gets 33 years in prison.


The investigation that lead to the conviction of the trafficker, Keith A. Graves, began in July 2014. When I visited the Bakken the first time he was actively trafficking young women for sex exactly as the whispers I heard had described. How fitting that he found justice as our film was finished.

Some people ask: What is the method at 3 Generations? Here it is: Everything is connected. Sex trafficking, genocide, environmental degradation. All these issues are happening side by side, often intertwined and very often under our noses in plain sight.

Today’s news was especially gratifying because only a week ago we were in Miamisaluting and honoring law enforcement professionals who have worked tirelessly to bring sex traffickers to justice. In a video we premiered in Miami last week we highlight how hard it is to prosecute sex trafficking.

In the Graves case today not all of the victims were able to come forward and testify. It is no easy task for a traumatized victim to face their abuser, least of all in a public court of law. The ones who did testify were very brave and impactful. As one juror reported, “Watching people relive it (the violence) right in front of you, that was difficult. You could almost sense the anxiety, the terror, in some of the victims.”

This is the change we fight for at 3 Generations and this is why we make films about subjects as diverse as sex trafficking, climate change, genocide, the refugee crisis in Syria and Death Row exonerees.

At the end of the day a broad-minded approach to social justice moves every issue forward. Sexual violence included.

By 3G Syria Intern Luis Rivera-Nesrala

Rivera-Nesrala is a third-year student at New York University where he is studying Economics with a minor in Arabic. His chief interests are in geopolitical economics, particularly in regards to the Middle East. He is the son of an active-duty United States Army service member. 

Nearly fifteen years after the unprecedented attacks of 2001 forced thousands of military men and women to pack their bags and head out over night, the landscape of U.S. warfare has been entirely transformed. Given the ongoing and evolving efforts to defeat those who seek to harm our nation, it is common for many soldiers today to have completed numerous deployments, some upwards of five.

While war and active combat are undoubtedly dangerous and trying situations, most of us fail to realize that the men and women who valiantly fight for our safety thrive in these conditions. This is where their skills and years of training are verified and validated. While those of us not in the service may find it difficult to imagine ourselves in such situations, the members of our five military branches are wired to excel in these high adrenaline environments where survival mode is always activated.

Herein lies one of the biggest misunderstandings for civilians: After performing in these high intensity, chaotic and often lawless settings for months and sometimes years, the most difficult part of fighting a war can be reintegration upon return. When these men and women return to the structure and comforts of the United States, after having lived in often war-torn nations, seemingly simple things like driving, being on paved roads, sleeping in their own beds, and next to their spouses can all be highly disorienting.

For those with children it can be tough to retake the role they played in their children’s lives before deployment, which is necessarily assumed by the parent who stays home. Returning to reassume these responsibilities can be a delicate act to balance and can place great strains on spousal relations.

For those with partners the process of acclimating to involving one another in daily routines and decisions can be trying after both individuals have learned to live independently for long periods of time. For others there is difficulty in returning to work and taking orders from fellow servicemen and women who have not had the experience of being downrange.

The problems of reintegration are difficult to foresee and can manifest themselves in many ways from person to person. The one certain thing, however, is that no man or woman who fights for this nation returns the same. While the recent overhaul of the Veterans Affairs Department by the Obama Administration has done a great deal to bring to light the neglect in care that many veterans experience, there is a great deal more that must be done.

Despite the need for improvement across the board, the most crucial of all of these necessary improvements is not one of policy, funding or program availability. Instead, it concerns the unspoken, institutionally stigmatized mentality that discourages these men and women from seeking the help that they need for fear of being branded unfit for service, combat or promotion and it must be fixed.

This looming expectation that each member return entirely unaffected only encourages the festering and worsening of these internalized trauma. Far too many men and women are thus driven to adopt the mentality to simply “adapt and overcome” in spite of the reality that many among them face challenges brought on by their experiences at war.

We have a pressing responsibility to the brave men and women in the service to provide them with the reintegration assistance that they indisputably merit. This should not be a political issue and if in war no expense is spared, neither should a single cent be withheld to provide programs like John Nash’s Combat Veteran Cowboy Up to those who need it. Programs like his are crucial to the healing process of those affected by the service because they provide the support of an empathetic system in which they find the company of others who share in the experiences.

While we must be sympathetic to the needs of our veterans, it should be clear that we will never fully understand what they have been through, what they have seen nor what they have done for us. Still, it falls on each and every citizen to understand the urgency of assessing and addressing the needs of our veterans. The men and women of this country selflessly defend every star and every color on our flag each day they don the distinguished uniform. When retirement or the expiration term of service sees them hang their garb and unlace their boots for the final time, it comes time for us to further extend our hands and return the favor. Supporting our troops is a commitment that extends far past the years of service and combat, and it is a duty that we must all make good on.


In December 1984 Glenn Ford was tried for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport Jeweler who was robbed and shot to death in his own shop, for whom Glenn did yard work. Despite Glenn’s assertion of his innocence and a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime, a combination of:

  • Inexperienced defense lawyers (they had never tried a criminal case, were being paid less than $3 an hour and were unaware they could request funding to hire experts)
  • The testimony of a forensic pathologist (which was later exposed as “pure junk science at its evil worst”)
  • Racial discrimination (from the all-white jury in a Confederate flag-flying Courthouse, at a time when legislation made it difficult to prove racial bias)

These issues led to Glenn being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Glenn was kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and was not permitted to participate in any religious services or educational programs.

After numerous failed appeals Glenn was finally released on March 11, 2014, when new evidence emerged showing that he ‘was neither present at, nor a participant in’ Rozeman’s robbery and murder. At the time of his release, Glenn had spent 29 years, 3 months and 5 days behind bars, making him one of the longest serving death row inmates in the United States. Tragically, Glenn was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly after his release.

After Glenn’s exoneration, A.M Stroud, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 trial, issued an apology to Glenn, and urged that he be granted the maximum $330,000 compensation available under Louisiana state law:

“In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning… Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute.”

However, Louisiana’s compensation law requires “factual innocence,” meaning that the defendant did not commit not only the crime for which he was convicted, but also “any crime based on the same set of facts.” The state attorney general’s office argued that Glenn didn’t have “clean hands” because they claimed he knew about the plans for the Rozeman robbery and pawned some of the stolen jewelry. The Innocence Project’s Kristin Wenstrom stated that ‘they [the state attorney general’s office] are coming up with new minor crimes he was never charged with or convicted of.’

The only compensation Glenn received was a debit card loaded with $20.24 upon his release, which was standardly issued to all released inmates, and he had to rely on donations to receive the hospice care that he urgently needed. On June 29, 2015, Glenn passed away from his disease at a home provided by the nonprofit group Resurrection After Exoneration.

Political Background to Glenn’s Case

Although a particularly extreme example, Glenn’s story is far from unique. Twenty states have no laws pertaining to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. There have been 152 exonerations from Death Row since 1972 and 329 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989. The number of innocent prisoners in the United States is unknown, but the few studies that have been conducted estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of prisoners are innocent. To provide context, if just 1% of prisoners were innocent, that would amount to 20,000 prisoners across the country.

Further, it is impossible to separate racial prejudice and institutionalized racism from issues surrounding both the death penalty and wrongful convictions. In Louisiana the odds of receiving a death sentence are 97% higher if the victim is white as opposed to black, in Washington State, North Carolina and California a black defendant is more than three times as likely to receive a death sentence if the victim is white. In 96% of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both.

3 Generations if excited to welcome two new staff members to the organization! The first is a new hire, Lindsay Gebhart, who will be leading our fundraising efforts:

Born in a small Ohio town just north of Cincinnati, Lindsay arrived in New York City via San Francisco, where she cut her teeth in nonprofit work at ACORN. Since then she has spent the last seven years working in fundraising in a number of Manhattan nonprofits, most notably the historic Hale House and Junior Achievement of New York. She has an undergraduate degree from Kent State University in Journalism and a Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch College. In addition to caring passionately about human rights and the power of storytelling, Lindsay also enjoys working one-on-one with those in need by volunteering at a local homeless shelter and adopting animals. On weekends you can find her eating way too much at brunch in Brooklyn with her husband and infant daughter then only watching the first half of Steel Magnolias, wishing the movie ended at the carnival.

Our second new hire, Lili Hamlyn, isn’t entirely “new,” but was recently promoted from an intern position to the new full-time Media and Productions Associate:

Lili Hamlyn grew up in London and moved to New York after gaining her BA in English Literature from Oxford University. While at Oxford, Lili founded the Tim Hetherington Society, a documentary film and photojournalism society, in memory of the late Tim Hetherington. The society screened TRICKED during it’s 2013 film festival, which introduced Lili to 3 Generations work. She looks forward to continuing the work and mission of the organization by working in the media and production side of the works they produce. Lili’s love of film and television has lead to her spending much of her free time attempting to make her life resemble the work of her favourite directors.

Both of them look forward to working with all of 3 Generations’ wonderful supporters.


This past week, NBC’s Today Show hosted a Pretty Woman reunion in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary much to the delight of thousands of viewers and fans of the 1990 blockbuster film. For those who need a refresher, Pretty Woman depicts the struggles of a young prostitute, Vivian, who finds her prince charming driving, lost, through Hollywood’s red light district in a Lotus sports car. The man turns out to be Edward Lewis, a successful workaholic businessman. Vivian quickly charms Edward who offers to pay for a week of her time. In the end, Edward “saves” Vivian from her life as a prostitute while Vivian teaches Edward how to enjoy the life he’s made for himself life and the two discover they are in love.

These days, Pretty Woman is one of the most financially successful films in the rom-com genre and is widely considered a classic judging from the 25th anniversary celebrations. Nevertheless, I myself had somehow never seen it – that is until yesterday.

In preparation for my viewing, I did a bit of research. One of the more interesting articles I read came from Vanity Fair. In a recent interview in honor of the 25th anniversary, screenwriter J.F. Lawton revealed the ending to Pretty Woman before the film was bought by Disney and the ending rewritten. Pretty Woman was originally, it turns out, titled 3,000 in reference to the $3,000 Edward offers Vivian for the week. 3,000 does not end with Edward climbing up Vivian’s fire escape – rather, he says goodbye and they each go their separate ways. For Edward, that is undoubtedly back to his life as a Wall Street mogul. For Vivian, reality hits a bit harder. The 3,000 script ends with Kit and Vivian on a bus bound for Disneyland – a trip financed by Vivian’s week with Edward. Kit, thrilled with their little day adventure, babbles on while Vivian “stares out emptily ahead.”

Juxtaposing Pretty Woman’s happily-ever-after ending with J.F. Lawton’s original ending, the differences are plain to see and the effect of the film is without doubt much darker. It’s not surprising that when Disney sought to turn the film into a blockbuster hit, they ditched the gritty ending, one that is in fact more often the reality for prostitutes, for the more enticing fairytale ending. That being said, I don’t think the film is entirely disconnected from the reality of prostitution.

If you pay attention, you see the hints: the police man’s investigation into an alleged murder of a prostitute at the very beginning of the film, tourists photographing the crime scene, Vivian and Kit’s debate over working for a pimp named Carlos, Vivian’s explanation to Edward about how she ended up where she was, Edward’s lawyer Philip’s treatment of Vivian and the climactic ending with Philip attacking Vivian in an effort to force her to have sex with him. For the average viewer however, all these moments recede into the background of Vivian and Edward’s love affair without any context.

So here’s the context: prostitution is far from glamorous. 70% of women in prostitution experience physical assault. They are additionally 40% more likely to be murdered when compared to the average American woman and 60% more likely when compared to the average American male. Fortunately, however, awareness of this reality is rising.

In the 25 years since Pretty Woman was first released, views on prostitution have changed dramatically. Research shows that the vast majority of women do not select prostitution as a career. Rather, they are forced into it through physical and psychological abuse or enter the trade due to the constraints poverty imposes on individuals and families. That is not to say, however, that there are not women who do engage in sex work on their own volition. There most certainly are. Unfortunately they are vastly out numbered by women and children who were never given the option of making that decision for themselves.

Building on this new perspective, anti-trafficking activists and women’s rights groups have endeavored to change the language and the policing of trafficking so that women and children are seen as victims first rather than criminals. In many ways these groups been met with success. Aside from the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which is currently stuck in Congress due to debate over a piece of the bill regarding abortions, Congress has passed well over a dozen bills aimed at beefing up funding for law enforcement training and service centers just in the past few months. Numerous states in turn, have passed Safe Harbor laws protecting children from criminalization as well as vacating convictions statues which provide trafficking survivors with a clean slate.

Watching the film for the first time now was fairly entertaining. Gone are the days when anyone would use traveler’s checks to go on a shopping spree or a Walkman in the bathtub for that matter. Beyond traveler’s checks and Walkmans however, a far more serious change has is underway – that is, society’s view on the sex trade. In this light it’s unsurprising that Pretty Woman takes the heat it does from anti-trafficking activists who consider the film to be a blithe and tendentious depiction of prostitution. But does it deserve the flack we give it? If we consider the ways in which views on prostitution and awareness of sex trafficking have changed just in the last 25 years, it seems possible that Pretty Woman could soon turn from Disney fairytale to cautionary tale and perhaps even a tool for anti-trafficking activists. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to wait until the 50th anniversary to see.

– Hannah Eddy, 3 Generations

Download the 2013 Annual Report

Sarah’s Home
Lincoln and Jenny Smith

A place of safety and rest for young victims of sex traffickingkitchen

“Aww, are you crying?  Do you need a hug?”

These are the words coming from 14-year-old Tessa*, spoken to her foster mom as they walked out of church last night.  I was moved because this is a girl who 6 months ago was being trafficked on the streets, escorted from motel to motel, sold for sex to strangers each night.  This is a child who has experienced unmentionable trauma and pain.  Every relationship she’s ever known since birth has been dysfunctional and hurtful.  She has every right to recoil at the thought of touching another person.  No one would blame her for wanting to crawl into a closet and cry herself to sleep, far away from any other human being.  Yet here she is, attuned to the pain of another person, empathetic towards the emotions of her foster mom.  It might seem like a benign comment, but it’s a key indicator that this traumatized girl is healing.

Today thousands of children are being sold for sex right here in the United States.  Thirteen-year-old girls are marketed online and delivered to motel rooms to service men old enough to be their fathers.  Children who should be listening to the latest pop sensation with their friends and giggling while learning to put on make-up are instead learning how to properly pleasure a man.

The majority of kids sucked into commercial sex trafficking come from single-parent homes, abusive and neglectful homes, state care (foster or group homes), or they are runaways living on their own or with friends or other families.

In other words, when families are unhealthy and broken, kids are vulnerable to exploitation.

If we recognize that vulnerable children are being sold for sex in our communities and we choose to engage the issue, we must answer the question, “What is the best way to help these children heal?”

Sarah’s Home is a long-term safe home located in Colorado Springs for juvenile girls rescued out of the forced commercial sex trade in the U.S.  Our restoration program includes therapy sessions 3 times a week.  Two teachers are in the home each day working one-on-one with the girls to bring them up to speed with their education.  We have a small group of mentors that work with the girls on empowering activities.  Right now at Sarah’s Home, we have one home that is up and running with 3 girls and their foster mom.  Our second home will be ready to open as soon as we find the right fit for a second foster mom (or foster couple.)  Each home is licensed for 4 girls, allowing us to help 8 kids.

The path to healing for our girls is exceptionally complicated and multi-faceted.  But at the heart of each necessary healing element are relationships; relationships with family, friends, community, faith, education, etc.

At Sarah’s Home we have learned that trauma happened in the context of broken relationships, and healing will happen in the context of healthy relationships.**

Before you gloss over that concept, pause and think about it.

Healing comes from relationships.

If you accept that premise, you have to then ask, “Who is going to have a healing relationship with this child?”  Is it going to be the night shift worker at the state run detention center or group home?  Is it going to be the social worker or parole officer?  Is it going to be their teacher or coach or neighbor?  All of these are important relationships for the child.  But these people all have one thing in common, they go home at the end of the day or at the end of their shift, and the child is left alone yet again.  By necessity these relationships end up being compartmentalized and shallow because a child can’t be emotionally close to someone who is not present with them.

This is why we choose to run Sarah’s Home as a foster home.  One of our core values is that we want our girls to learn to build healthy relationships.  Our foster mom works hard to build relationships that prove that the girls are worth loving through the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly.  Our girls need a person who is willing to listen to their pain and endure their defense mechanism of lashing out at those around them; a person that can experience their anger and their hurt without recoiling.

The girls are longing for unconditional love and this only happens if you are present . . . a lot.  Present when she is crying in her closet, when nightmares keep her awake at night, when she is getting her STD report at the doctor, when she discovers she is actually 3 years behind where she thought she was in school.  The same person needs to experience all that with her, and still love her.  And then that same person also gets to experience the straight A’s in school that are the fruit of diligent studying, the thrill of learning to bake her first cake, the joy of completing her first long hike, and the confidence that comes from testifying against her trafficker in court.

Because she’s been through the good and the bad with the girls, it’s the foster mom that gets to hear the words, “Aww, are you crying?  Do you need a hug?”

* Name changed to protect the child’s identity.
** Our friend, mentor, and colleague, Debi Grebenik was instrumental in teaching us this philosophy.  Learn more at:

3 Generations founder Jane Wells has just returned from Berlin, where she has been since Friday. As you may know, the reason for her visit was the screening of her father Sidney Bernstein’s unfinished documentary, originally called ‘Memory of the Camps’ but now going by ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey‘. The film was shown twice at the festival, on Sunday and then again on Tuesday, following a screening of a new companion documentary called ‘Night Will Fall‘. The importance of this project to 3 Generations cannot be overstated, it is an integral part of the story of our foundation. This was the first public showing of the film since it was broadcast by PBS in 1985, and it has since been augmented and completed. By all accounts, the screenings were a success and the footage still has the power to move, shock and disturb.

Jane Berlin 1

3 Generations founder, Jane Wells, attended the screening of her father’s film at the 64th Berlinale.

Berlin 6

The Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Clouds over Reykjavik.

Clouds over Reykjavik.

Icelandic hospitality and creativity are legendary. The 10th Reykjavik International Film Festival was a showcase for both as well as an impressive roster of films Icelandic and International.

In addition the festival included a mini-conference Earth 101 at which selected documentary filmmakers met with some of the finest minds in sociology and climate change. One particularly fascinating panel was “Climate Change and Cinema – Reaching Out to the World”. Three world-renowned scientists Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf and Peter Sinclair succinctly helped explain the limitations of narrative films in showing the slow but inexorable advance of climate change. Documentaries like Stephen Smith and Julia Szucs’ Vanishing Point and Patrick Gambuti Jr’s Greedy Lying Bastards can help give realistic dimension to a problem so huge it is hard to convey accurately in a 90 minute blockbuster.

Two of the talented filmmakers at the Festival, Anne Aghion and Simon Brook, are old friends of 3 Generations’. They were each invited to screen their respective films My Neighbor, My Killer and Indian Summer, reflecting RIFF’s ecumenical approach to telling “the biggest story of our times”. From Rwanda to India, from genocide to fighting cancer with Ayurveda, well-told documentaries are a way to cross borders and inform us all on a global scale. It is no coincidence that a country in the arctic north would so ably embrace the looming threat of climate change and that its signature film festival would focus on this issue. I was impressed and honored to be there. There is much to learn and much to do. Check out Peter Sinclair’s blog and Michael Mann’s book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.

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