We have followed the work of INK 180 for several years and for the past couple we've talked about getting Chris Baker here to share their story with the Wichita community. Friday, January 22nd we finally made it happen and Chris spoke to a packed house at Gracepoint Church, one of our longterm community partners.
KWCH came out and did a great story on the event which was later expanded into an even better story on the work Chris does and how we are working to bring some of that awesomeness to Wichita. (More on that later!)
We started out the evening with a screening of the INK 180 Documentary followed up by Chris speaking to the crowd about his work, some updates on a few of the people in the documentary and stories of the success he has seen in the lives of those he serves once they are free from the gang or trafficking tattoos that he helps them with.
We wrapped up the evening with a panel of local law enforcement, social service and healthcare providers working on the frontlines of the fight against traffcking right here in Wichita.
L-R: Sarah Haldeman-Smith from Saint Francis Community Services, Nicole Ensminger from Via Christi and Lt. Travis Rakestraw of the Exploited & Missing Children Unit.
L-R: John Ferreira of Homeland Security, Jason Hart of the U.S. Attorney's Office.
L-R: Connie Hultmann of Wesley, Tina Peck of Via Christi (both forensic nurses), Diana Schunn of the Child Advocacy Center & Chris Baker.
Here's the whole panel! We learned so much, had great questions from the audience and heard about new resources coming on board very soon such as Clover House, a residential home for adolescent girls, and the new CAC building opening this summer. (Which will also be our new office space!)
The event itself was wonderful but we're even more excited about what is in the works because of it! While Chris was here he was gracious enough to provide his services to 2 survivors. He did one tattoo removal and one cover up. One a gang tattoo, one a trafficking tattoo. I wish I could share photos with you but in the interest of privacy I can't. But trust me when I say both were amazing to witness and both women remarked that their lives we changed by the services Chris provided to them. They walked away with no more painful reminders on their bodies of the things they had been through.
Here's the next step... We are working with one local artist and plan to get a few more on board. Chris will be back later this summer to do some training and we have some options for a private location for the artists to serve survivors on a volunteer basis without it comingling with their regular business. We have also been approached with some potential funding options to cover supply costs. This is all VERY new and soon there will be more to share. Just know we're working hard to make this an option for survivors in our area as well with the support and guidance of Chris Baker and INK 180.
Thank you Chris, thank you panelists and thank you community for partnering with us. None of us can do it alone.
ICT SOS is a grassroots non-profit, founded in Wichita, whose mission is to connect the organizations who work directly with victims of human trafficking with members of the community who are compelled to help. Through this link, our community has an outlet to donate items, raise awareness of the sex trafficking issue and educate our children about safety. Contact us today to learn how to help. Or check out our get involved page to find out how to help the victims of sex trafficking.