Our Story: Helping Sexually Exploited Children in Hawaii

The vision of Ho‘ōla Nā Pua

began over a decade ago, when Jessica Muñoz was working as a Nurse Practitioner in the emergency room and began to notice signs of physical and psychological abuse being endured by sexually exploited children in Hawai‘i.  Given the hidden nature of child sex trafficking, the true abuse was often misidentified and left untreated, despite it being the most horrific crime against children. In simple terms: she became aware of a sex trafficking crisis in Hawai‘i, with no sustainable solution for intervention.

 
When victimization goes unrecognized, its population often falls through the cracks of a social system where neither justice nor adequate care is guaranteed, resulting in trafficked youth that become revictimized with little hope for healing.
 
Exploited youth were not being told that they matter; that it was not their fault they were victimized; that they have a right to a life free from violence; that someone will continue to walk a path toward healing with them. Exploited youth need immediate intervention and complex treatment for healing that is specialized to their age, gender, and trauma. It became clear that more needed to be done and Jessica became devoted to “shining the light.”
 
Ho‘ōla Nā Pua began with one conversation at a time. They were unpopular and uncomfortable conversations with stakeholders and community leaders, in both the public and private sector. With each conversation, we planted a seed and nurtured each relationship, and we have begun to see transformational growth in the community. Ho‘ōla Nā Pua seeks systemic change through a multi-faceted community collaboration that provides the resources, policies, and practices that produce a solution to the crime of sex trafficking in Hawai‘i.
 
With a continuum of care, trauma-informed systems, and comprehensive holistic treatment, our youth can embrace their bright futures. Ho‘ōla Nā Pua has not only created profound change in Hawai‘i; its community programming and much anticipated Pearl Haven campus is quickly becoming a clinical model for replication nationwide and around the world in the global fight against sex trafficking.
 
We are committed to the prevention of sex trafficking and providing care for children who have been exploited.
 
To learn more about our impact, read our Annual Report. https://hoolanapua.org/impact/

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