The concept for the faith-based organization, Esther’s Rising, came when friends Suzi Kremer and Cheri Hartman felt a nudge to make a difference in the lives of young girls who had experienced sex exploitation or sex trafficking.
Kremer says, “When I quit my job in 2016, I knew that I wanted to do something in the anti-trafficking world. I just was drawn to it. It broke my heart. And so just knew that I needed to do something. So I got involved volunteering with the West River Anti Trafficking Task Force, went up to Sturgis a couple of years just to kind of be boots on the ground and be eyes on the streets up there. And then also did a program where I raised funds and got the movie “Chosen” into public and school libraries. And the need is so strong for a restorative care home for adolescent girls…knowing that Esther’s Rising needed to be created. And Cheri and I were called to do that. And so really, it came together in October of 2020.”
Suzi has a background in criminal justice and sociology and Cheri comes from a teaching background – both women from the Custer area and have been friends for over 20 years. They are both Co-Founders of Esther’s Rising.
Hartman says, “I’ve always had a heart for kids. So we just got together with some other people in the area to see what we could do to help, and came out of a meeting realizing that there was definitely a need for restorative care for minors. And so that birthed Esther’s rising.”
Esther’s Rising is currently in the process of raising funds to build the care home. They look to purchase land and a restorative care home to the minors ages 12-17 and help them with long – term social, emotional and mental healing.
“So we’ll be providing education, medical, dental care, trauma, informed counseling, and we hope to expand to do hopefully equine therapy in the future. Music therapy, things like that also.”
They host fundraisers, like galas, to raise the money to conceptualize their dream of creating an emergency home for girls who are rescued from human trafficking where immediate needs are met but will also act as a long-term healing center where the children are given trauma counseling education and medical care. And in time, develop life skills and move towards successful independent living.
Another aspect of their outreach is education.
“Well, we do know that the need is great, unfortunately, especially with the Internet and going through a pandemic. In the last year, there was a 98% increase in traffickers recruiting kids over the Internet. So it does happen everywhere. That’s the most prominent area that is happening now. Also familial trafficking is about 40% of kids being trafficked. Of course, large events draw more trafficking. We also speak to churches and community groups for education and awareness, and we are open to doing that too.
If you want to find out more about Esther’s Rising, you can visit their Facebook page here.