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Women heal, grow at Bakhita Mountain Home
William Dagendesh
/ Categories: Diocesan News, Respect Life

Women heal, grow at Bakhita Mountain Home

by William J. Dagendesh

PHOTO: Grand Knight Jeff Cannella of Knights of Columbus Council No. 7880 at Ave Maria Parish in Parker (left) presents two checks for $700 to Jason Frazier (right), Executive Director of Bakhita Mountain Home, in March. The council held a pancake breakfast to raise money for the home and received matching funds from the Knights of Columbus Colorado State Council. (Photo courtesy of Len Bertagnolli)

COLORADO SPRINGS. Bakhita Mountain Home (BMH) is a rescue and restoration outlet designed to help adult women age 18 and older to heal from the trauma born from sexual exploitation of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is the recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receipt of persons for exploitation purposes. It is one of the world’s top three criminal industries, generating more than $150 billion of illegal profits worldwide each year.

Established in 2019, the nonprofit BMH is committed to providing a sanctuary for survivors of human trafficking. BMH opened its doors in Spring 2021, offering a two-year rent-free program that to date has provided more than a thousand safe nights for survivors seeking refuge from the trauma of sexual exploitation.

Liz Kosofsky served as Executive Director of BMH from 2021 until March 2024. Jason Frazier, who previously worked for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Arizona and StableStrides in Colorado Springs, was chosen to take her place.

As Executive Director, Frazier is involved in all day-to-day operations. Through overseeing his case management team, yearly budget and expenses, all fundraising efforts, community partnership management, grant management and client relations, Frazier has experienced much during his brief tenure and expects BMH to serve more broken survivors in the upcoming months.

“BMH is a fairly new program and in the history of the program we have served 12 women. We receive multiple referrals almost on a weekly basis, but only have room for five individuals in the home at a time,” said Frazier.

The agency took its name from St. Bakhita, who in 1877 was kidnapped at age nine from Sudan, after which she was sold into slavery, tortured, beaten and forced to work for 12 years. The trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her childhood name. Her captors gave her the Iranian/Persian name Bakhita, from which she later adopted the name Sister Bakhita.

BMH ensures women who experience such treatment have an opportunity to heal and return to a productive life. Located in an undisclosed residential area in Colorado Springs, BMH assists women seeking treatment from the trauma they experienced, gain self-sufficiency and successfully reintegrate into society as healthy and productive members.

To do this, BMH provides basic needs that include food, clothing, transportation, access to medical and mental health providers, education, job skills training and employment assistance. In this safe and secure environment, women can build community, receive trauma-informed therapy and exercise, and participate in cooking, dining and gardening. It is the only Southern Colorado home for adult women who are human trafficking survivors.

According to Frazier, survivors face multiple obstacles during their healing process. For starters, getting away from their traffickers may pose very real physical safety threats. Survivors may view their traffickers as their only family and may have limited options for economic survival. They may even have a lack of awareness of available assistance or how to access that assistance.

Also, they may have limited or no English proficiency, making it difficult to communicate with others, seek help and survive economically, Frazier said. Additionally, they may be isolated from others and/or lack familiarity with the area where they are living; and/or they may fear law enforcement or other legal authorities.

“In most cases, survivors have been exposed to trafficking at a very young age or for years at a time and do not know any other way,” Frazier said.

Unfortunately, BMH sees many cases of trafficking that include multiple forms of abuse, so it’s not possible to provide exact statistics on the types of trafficking that occur.

“Human trafficking can involve sex and/or labor trafficking, domestic servitude and exploitation of children,” Frazier said.

Not surprisingly, the largest needs, other than more space to serve more survivors, are donations — both financial and material. BMH provides financial assistance to the survivors it assists, including all day-to-day items used at the home.

“We rely on outside funding, including grants, sponsorships and funds raised at events, to cover all the costs of the needs for the clients we work with,” Frazier said.

Currently, BMH is assisting several women where confidentiality is most important within the agency. BMH serves single women who are required to go through an application process and agree to the program’s rules and requirements. Women are allowed to stay at BMH two years. The victims the agency serves share many heartbreaking stories.

The most rewarding aspect is helping these survivors feel safe and supported during their healing journey, Frazier said. Case managers take pride in helping each survivor learn how to utilize services available and to help them reach independence on their own.

Through continued support of organizations like BMH, and by raising human trafficking awareness, the community assists survivors with their healing process, Frazier said. The process takes time and is an important step toward new beginnings for survivors.

“We are very fortunate to have such a caring community in Colorado and it is incredible to see the support for our organization and these incredible survivors. Our agency is part of an amazing network that offers safe places to survivors in their biggest time of need, and we are helping survivors learn how to become amazing parts of our community,” Frazier said. 

Those who wish to support the work of BMH can also participate in the fifth annual Steps to Empower event on Aug. 3 at Mount St. Francis Nursing Center, 7550 Assisi Heights, 80919.

Financial donations can be made one time or can be set up to recur monthly. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor is encouraged to contact BMH at info@bakhitamountainhome.org.

To learn more, email Frazier at jason@bakhitamountainhome.org. To report suspected incidents of human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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