Eyes wide Open NENY, Inc. was established because there is a need to educate the world, our communities, families and friends that human trafficking is a 32 billion-dollar criminal industry that exploits women and children; in the most brutal ways, and we can do something about it.
Debbie Fowler, founder of Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc. learned of the atrocities while living in Kuwait. Quite by accident, she learned of maids who were deceived into believing they were headed to another country for jobs and education, only to have their passports taken from them upon arrival. They were bought and then made to work as maids with little or no pay, beaten and many, sexually assaulted.
Volunteering at the shelter with victims of a most horrendous crime, she knew she must do something with this knowledge. “I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned.” Research provided insidious results that this is a worldwide issue; not only “over there” but right here in our own backyards.
Debbie published a book Fragrance in the Desert in 2014; sharing how her eyes were opened wide to this tragic problem. The book continues to open many doors of opportunity to speak out publicly, the existence of trafficking and how it affects our communities, speaking at book stores, church groups, civic organizations, local colleges and high schools.
Each time out, she heard the audience ask over and over, what can we do? It wasn’t enough just to talk about it…. action was required…and that takes money.
She and her friend, Patty Carley began with emails to friends requesting donations of arts and crafts supplies. They started selling those supplies at local flea markets to raise money. The requests and flea market interactions spread word of their efforts throughout New York. Women from Syracuse and Rochester drove to Schenectady to deliver supplies they had collected from their communities. One year later, in the fall of 2015, Her Treasure Box was opened. The store is a thrift shop selling only arts and craft supplies; run totally by volunteers. All proceeds go to the funding for continual awareness of human trafficking in the community and the establishment of a home where victims of human trafficking can begin their healing process.