We can make the world a better place for victims of sex trafficking if we all come together to lend a helping hand. Looking the other way keeps the problem lingering; the more it lingers, the closer home it becomes!!
Restoration Project International (RPI) is a nonprofit organization founded on August 2nd, 2013. The goal of RPI is to inspire sex-trafficked girls to aspire for a brighter future. Moved by the scale and global impact of sex-trafficking - an estimated 1 million girls and women are trafficked for sexual exploitation, including pornography and prostitution - RPI's founder, took action with the ultimate goal of engaging all stakeholders in social change to rehabilitate victims and eradicate sex trafficking. The Founder's passion for restoring the hope, dignity, and aspiration of trafficked girls began with a research study which successfully pushed for two critical legislative changes in the rights of rape victims, and children conceived by rape in Colorado. These include: 1) SB227 (2013) which protects children conceived by rape from their rapist fathers, and 2) HB 14-1162 (2014) which protects rape victims from their
rapists and the criminal justice system when a child is conceived by rape. RPI was founded to address structural and systemic challenges confronting victims of sexual exploitation. The research study led to the following questions: 1) How best can society help sexually violated girls/women to heal and be restored to normal lives? 2) How best can these girls/women be empowered to avoid 'Stockholm Syndrome' and shun their exploiters and abusers? 3) How best can society's misconceptions and apathy be challenged to make it more empathetic, engaged and willing to embrace exploited and trafficked girls as they transition back into society? These are the organizing principles that inform RPI's mission for social change. We hope to realize this mission by filling in the gap in the transitional period between leaving a shelter or an exploiter and the inherent struggle to re-integrate into society. Our engagement model is premised on the idea that education is crucial in the prevention of sex-trafficking, and the protection/rehabilitation of victims. Our education strategy involves not just the victims, but society as a whole. An educated victim is better empowered to make informed life choices. Also, an educated society is better informed on the challenges of sex-trafficking; and crucially, how to identify at-risk girls and restore survivors, as this aids prevention and protection. Our collaborative model also requires that we continue to work with other organizations and government agencies to restore girls who have survived sex trafficking, as well as engage in global social change to eradicate sex-trafficking.
EDITH O. OKUPA is the Founder/Executive Director of Restoration Project International, located in Denver, Colorado. She received her bachelors’ degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland and her masters’ degree in Public Administration with concentrations in Domestic Violence, Project Management and Policy Administration from the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado. She has also received numerous training in domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and victimization. During her career, she worked with the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland as a Domestic Violence Intern, Public Policy Intern with the Colorado Coalition against Domestic Violence (CCADV), and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Intern with Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance (COVA).
VOLUNTEERS: most of our work are carried out by volunteers community members who are trained for specific tasks, besides their professional background and expert knowledge.
PROFESSOR CHRISTINE ROBERTS WHITE (Chairperson)
Professor White is currently an Adjunct Professor at the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. She teaches Criminal Law; Human Trafficking; Juvenile Delinquency; Race and Crime; and Drugs and Crime. Her research interests include issues surrounding the understanding of human trafficking in the criminal justice field and the role race continues to play in the criminal justice system. She is currently a member of the Prince Georges County Human Trafficking Committee. She has her Bachelors in Sociology in 1997 from University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) from American University, Washington College of Law in 2000.
RITA SMITH (Vice-Chairperson)
Rita Smith worked as a crisis line advocate in a shelter for battered women and their children in Colorado in 1981. She has held numerous positions in Colorado and Florida in several local domestic violence and sexual assault programs and state coalitions as Program Supervisor and Director. She was the Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for nearly 23 years. She is currently one of the senior advisors for the National Football League, an advisor with Precise Advisory Group and consults on other projects as a national expert on violence against women. She co-authored several articles or chapters for books and manual for attorneys in domestic violence in Colorado, and an article on child custody and domestic violence in The Judges Journal (an American Bar Association publication). She holds an Associate in Psychology from Polk State College and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University.
EWOMAZINO MAGBEGOR (Secretary)
Ms. Zino currently works as a Legal Consultant. She had previously worked as a Legal Intern with the Employers Legal Resource Center in Oklahoma City from 2011-2014; and Community Support Worker, Green Door, Washington DC from 2009–2011. She received her Bachelor's Degree (BA) in Psychology from Oklahoma State University in 2008; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) from Oklahoma City University in 2014. In college, she was involved in: Residential Life Judicial Committee, Student Government Association Supreme Court, Phi Alpha Delta, American Bar Association, Black Law Student Association, and Hispanic Law Students Association.
LISA YOUNG (Treasurer)
Ms. Young has over 15 years of human resources and management experience. She has managed a cross functional HR staff, supported up 30+ business units with more than 1200 employees, and partnered with operating unit leaders and executives to ensure alignment of HR strategies with business initiatives and goals. She has implemented various client projects including HR compliance audits, employee handbook development, job analysis, job descriptions and compensation design. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Mountain States Employers’ Council. She also enjoys volunteering and has served on various advisory councils and boards.
REV. (DR.) ADEKUNLE AJALA
Rev. Dr. Ajala is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Hands on Ministries and Ade Ajala Ministries. He is a graduate of economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He went to Ghana as a missionary and served under Youth With A Mission, Tema Ghana. He later joined Mercy Ships, a missionary ship traveling around the developing world providing medical assistance and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor. He is a visionary leader with an insightful awareness of what people need to succeed and how he can empower them for success. He is vastly traveled, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and planting churches as well as empowering local church leaders through his dynamic and insightful leadership training.
Volunteer Community Members
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