By Allison Jarboe, Features Edtitor
Each year Blitz Week is a time that is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for charities and worthy organizations. 2017’s designated Blitz Week organization Beautiful Dream Society (BDS) has a unique story to tell.
Beautiful Dream Society is an anti-human trafficking organization founded in Oklahoma in 2009.
Alexa Rutledge, member of the Blitz Week committee, explained that Beautiful Dream Society fights to end human trafficking and the exploitation of women.
“They work here in the U.S. and also in Lesotho,” Rutledge said.
In 2008, Jennifer Crow, founder of BDS, didn’t know where Lesotho was.
“She had a dream in 2008 where she was standing on a ship,” Jordan Spencer, co-chair of the Blitz Week committee, said.
“They were looking out at the horizon and they saw the letters L-E-S-O-T-H-O. They also saw a mother seal. She had been injured and her babies were spilling out over the rocks and being lost at sea. The mother was crying and seemed to be saying, ‘help me.’
“When Jennifer woke up the next morning she looked up Lesotho and realized it is actually a tiny country in the center of South Africa.
“She soon discovered that Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world, with just under one-in-four people living with HIV,” Spencer said.
Women comprise over half of these 360,000 individuals.
“Lesotho also has the highest rate of rape per capita,” Spencer said. “Knowing this information, it should not be surprising to learn that Lesotho has a huge orphan problem as well.”
One out of every 10 people in Lesotho is an orphan, meaning that there are more than 200,000 orphans in a country of just 2 million people. In addition, 75 percent of the orphans in Lesotho were orphaned due to AIDS.
Spencer then explained Jennifer Crow’s response to this vision she had been given and its implications regarding the country of Lesotho.
“Jennifer travelled to Lesotho in 2009 and was made aware of the issues of human trafficking Lesotho faces as well,” she said. “Jennifer founded Beautiful Dream Society in 2010, established the first Safe House for victims of human trafficking in the entire country in 2011, and built the Dream Home for survivors of human trafficking and other vulnerable women in 2012.”
Rutledge explained that BDS is the only safe house in Lesotho.
“A church and a preschool were alter started in Lesotho. Later they opened up a state-certified location in Oklahoma,” Rutledge said.
“It’s pretty cool because BDS is the only organization in the country of Lesotho that works with victims of human trafficking in that country,” said Katy Brannen, the other co-chair of Blitz Week.
“The women there are taught trade and how to cook, clean, and really how to function as independent,” Brannen said. “It’s an awesome thing.”
Spencer elaborated on the situation in Lesotho, saying that there is not a lot of information or statistics about human trafficking and modern slavery in Lesotho it is mostly done behind closed doors, and the government has not shown a lot of initiative in addressing the problem.
Spencer also said that as the only anti-human trafficking organization in the country, BDS fortunately has a good relationship with the national government.
“I think it’s important to note though that this is not limited to sex trafficking,” Spencer said. “There is certainly sex-trafficking occurring in Lesotho, but forced labor, forced marriage, child labor and debt bondage are just a few of the many ways both men, women and children can find themselves enslaved in Lesotho.”
In 2013 Beautiful Dream Society took in 12 orphaned children, began drafting plans to build a children’s village and founded the Beautiful Dream Village pre-school.
“In 2013, BDS also founded a second Dream Home in Oklahoma City specifically for victims of sex trafficking,” Spencer said.
“Their ultimate goal right now is to finish building the Beautiful Dream Village where orphans, vulnerable women, and victims of trafficking can live and be educated, rehabilitated, and loved.”
For Brannen, the best part were the people who are helped by BDS.
BDS did rehabilitative and preventative work in OKC for three years before merging with another organization in OKC last September (The Dragonfly Home) so that they could focus exclusively on Lesotho.
Spencer said that while they do not do work specifically in OKC anymore, Crow knows so much about the reality of sex-trafficking in this area of the country as well as globally.
“She is an amazing woman, and I’ve only had the privilege of speaking with her a few times,” Spencer said.
“So what is BDS? It is an organization dedicated to Christ and dedicated to improving the quality of life experienced by individuals who are not in a position to help or speak for themselves.”