At five years old, Anika was a lucrative beggar. Her parents broke her hips when they moved to Greece from Poland. Her precious innocence and helplessness made her irresistible to any passerby. But when her adolescent charm wore off, the money slowed down, and her parents abandoned her in the city of Athens.
Alone and injured, Anika desperately longed for family and a sense of home.
She was approached by a group of conniving young men. With charming smiles they promised shelter, food, and family. Thrilled by opportunity, Anika eagerly accepted their generosity.
She was driven to a dark, grungy apartment; it wasn’t the beacon of hope she’d imagined. The cold, dirty walls were her cage as she was beaten and raped constantly. She instantly became a prisoner… an animal… a slave.
As a young teen, Anika was exploited in multiple ways. First, she was sold daily to clients in forced prostitution. Second, she was abused when she didn’t submit to doing domestic chores for her captors. Her body was wounded, and her last bits of spirit were draining day by day.
The sounds of abuse eventually seeped through the apartment walls and something remarkable happened. The neighbors in the apartment building reported their suspicions to Greek police.
When police raided the apartment, they caught a man in the act of raping the young girl. They were able to immediately take the traffickers into custody.
A simple group of concerned citizens saved Anika’s life when they decided they would no longer tolerate injustice.
The A21 staff in Greece welcomed Anika with smiling faces that hid no vile intentions. The walls were decorated with warm colors and inspirational quotes, and for the first time in her life, adults demonstrated love rather than manipulation.
The shelter provided medical care, which helped heal the abuse from her parents and captors. But more importantly, A21 staff empowered Anika to make her own decisions, which helped revive her spirit.
When Anika was taken to the traffickers’ apartment, she was instantly a prisoner. When she entered the A21 shelter, she instantly became a survivor. The word victim is no longer a part of her description. Anika has now returned to Eastern Europe to escape the city where she was so damaged. She is no longer limited, but has torn down walls to create her own destiny.
In the last three weeks, A21 shelters have welcomed twelve new girls! Twelve new girls will be empowered to make decisions; a right many have not had in years. Twelve new girls are being given the confidence to believe in their dreams again. Twelve new girls are no longer victims, but survivors. Anika’s story does not have to be an exception any longer. There is hope spreading to the hopeless.
We recognize that life-changing success would not be possible without your consistent giving and support. Because of the support of donors and our monthly partners, we’re able to open shelters across the globe to provide safety, restoration, and freedom.
Together, we are making a difference!