Africa Trip Update

Hi Everyone!

The trip to South Africa and Nigeria was a huge success! 

Thank you for praying for me and the team while we traveled, taught, and served.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  So, without further delay - here is a quick overview of everything that happened over these past 15 days!
The MeCAHT Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa hosted about 150 attendees from countries, ministries, and governmental organizations all over the world.  The conference theme focused on the significance of establishing strong partnerships and relationships between organizations.  To fight human trafficking effectively, we need to fight it together - because we are stronger together.
This year I had the privilege of teaching a breakout session on how to build restorative and healthy relationships with survivors of sex trafficking during the MeCAHT conference.  I shared about the importance of understanding complex trauma and brain development in survivors and discovering how to effectively apply a TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) approach to relationship building.  The information was well received and I was able to network with lots of ministry organizations from around South Africa, Nigeria, and the UK.
After the MeCAHT Conference, we hosted a training workshop with the Hope Risen Foundation in Johannesburg to train their wonderful team of staff and volunteers.  We taught on topics covering the Beatitude Trauma Model for Counseling, Common Mental Diagnoses for Trafficking Survivors, Relationship Building using the TBRI Approach, and the Six Stages of Change in the Addiction Cycle.  After the workshop, we toured the beautiful Hope Risen property where future trafficking survivors will stay to heal and recover.  Please keep this organization in prayer as they seek to purchase the property and grow their team.
The Capacity Building workshop for 10 Safehouses in Abuja, Nigeria was also a great success!  There were about 30 women present (and two men) from various safehouse organizations around Nigeria.  This was the second of ten workshops for these safehouses, with the goal of equipping and training the staff and caregivers to offer their best practices and care to survivors of trafficking.  During this workshop, there were several speakers, group discussions, Q&As, and practical application time.  It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends and to meet some of the same women we trained last year.  God is doing amazing things in Nigeria and it was such a blessing to be a part of it!
During the Capacity Building Workshop, I spoke about the importance of understanding a survivor's trauma response and how to address it within the context of a healthy and safe relationship.  I shared research that points to the fact that relational trauma and brokenness can only be healed through nurturing and healthy relationships!  I also taught the safehouse staff members how to utilize a TBRI approach with the survivors in their homes. This approach focuses on empowering the survivors, connecting with them on an emotional level, and teaching them how to establish healthy social behaviors and coping skills.  We also discussed the importance of partnerships, identifying personal strengths and weaknesses, and healing from personal trauma. 
After the workshop, Kyle and I visited Greater Love Lighthouse - a safehouse in Abuja for female sex trafficking survivors.  We spent two days with the girls and the wonderful staff members teaching them self-defense training, discussing the grace and truth Gospel of Jesus and how to heal from their trauma, sharing meals, braiding hair, and even learning how to perform Nigerian dance moves.  We met two of the girls last year, so it was amazing to reconnect with them again and to see how well they are doing.  There are currently seven girls living at the home, so please keep them in prayer! 

A crazy God story:  One of the girls was brought to GLL only two weeks ago.  She was being trafficked in South Africa and was brought to GLL because she is originally from Nigeria.  Two years ago after the MeCAHT Conference in South Africa, Kyle and I taught a self-defense class at one of the local safehomes in the Western Cape  - and it turns out that this girl was there!  When we walked into GLL this year, she hugged us and remembered us from when we taught the class two years ago, and it was so special and amazing to see her again!

*(Disclaimer:  the girls faces are blurred out to protect and honor their identities, so please do not share this photo).
We had the privilege of hosting a workshop for the Secure D Future International Initiative, which is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower the people of Nigeria by raising awareness about mental health, the importance of counselor education, psychotherapy, and human capital development.  Their members include psychologists, counselors, social workers, and staff from a variety of backgrounds.  They are doing amazing work in Nigeria, and have a heart to equip others through prevention work, intervention, and post-care.
God is doing so many incredible things in Africa.
  • Please keep the 10 safehouses, their staff members, and the survivors in their care in prayer as they all pursue excellence, healing, wholeness, and restoration. 
  • Please pray for every single person who attended the conferences and workshops - that they will apply the information they learned, share it with others, and multiply themselves!
  • Please pray me as I continue to pursue my Masters Degree in Professional Counseling - my heart is on fire and my soul is burdened after this trip, and I hope to finish my studies as soon as possible so that I can start counseling survivors both in Texas and around the world.

And lastly, a big heartfelt thank you to all of my donors who made this trip possible.  I am so blessed and thankful.  Your financial support and prayers and encouragement were not wasted.  Thank you for believing in the work that God is doing in Africa, and thank you for joining me in being the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world.  I love you all!

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Sam Stokesberry · P.O. Box 2302, Dennesig · Stellenbosch, Wc S-7601 · South Africa

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