This story originally appeared in the June issue of Living in the Falls, a neighborhood magazine published by the company behind N2GIVES. To learn more, visit N2 Publishing.
Tammy and Bryan Weisweaver, husband and wife and owners of B Present Fitness Studio in Fishers, felt compelled to research human trafficking at the start of last year. The Weisweavers were appalled by what they learned and decided to do a mission trip which led them, alongside six other volunteers, 8,700 miles away to Cambodia.
The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as, "modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act." Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry, and according to a report prepared by the office of the Indiana Attorney General, it will continue growing. When the Weisweavers met those impacted, their initial reactions were difficult to conceal.
“It makes you think, ‘What if that was my daughter? What if that was my wife?'” Bryan Weisweaver said. “It just breaks your heart.”
While there, the couple worked to help rescued victims heal and recreate relationships. They traveled with a non-profit Christian organization named Destiny Rescue. The organization estimates they have rescued over 2,000 people from around the globe, and they enlist the aide of part-time and permanent volunteers.
“Many hands can help make light work,” Tammy Weisweaver said. “Honestly, it was overwhelming and I felt sometimes like ‘What are we going to be able to do?’ but if we all think that, then nothing will ever get done.”
Over the past year, the Weisweavers have raised around $8,300 for their cause through a workshop that Tammy Weisweaver runs (through her fitness studio, B Present) titled “She Sweats Truth.” The workshop began before the couple’s trip and when they realized they wanted to help human trafficking victims, and it serves to empower women through physical exercise and encouragement. Donations raised through the program benefit those still in need of rescuing.
The couple emphasized the progress they witnessed during their time in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They plan on traveling to other countries in the future such as India and Bolivia to continue their work.
“To see all the joy amidst all the brokenness and the hurt and the pain impacted me the most,” Bryan Weisweaver said. “One moment I’ll never forget was seeing all these girls laughing, singing, and playing games together.”
The Weisweavers estimate that it costs $1,500 in order to save one person enslaved in human trafficking. In that process, staff also help rescued children develop a skill and reintegrate into their communities.
“We got to see girls that were just rescued and hiding, but we also got to see girls that had been in the program for a while and were learning to be hair stylists and do nails,” Tammy Weisweaver said. “Now they’re employed and working and doing well.”
Tammy and Bryan also recommend donating to local organizations such as Hope Center Indy and Ascent 121, which help rescue victims of human trafficking within central Indiana.
Article written by Helen Rummel.