Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sister Barbara Jim-George's Girls Rite of Passage Certificate Ceremony

Rev Barbara Jim-George

Saturday, May 26, 2012 was the Girls Rite of Passage Ceremony.  The girls have passed the class and have reached a new level of self esteem and understanding in their young lives.  They have been taught the perils of the human sexual trafficking industry and how important it is to be careful of those who would try to victimize them.  Unfortunately this world is very dangerous for young girls.

Human trafficking holds horrors for its victims that the average person cannot begin to imagine. It is likely the average American citizen has the perception that human trafficking is a circumstance which prevails in economically depressed, backwater areas of third world countries, among the most abjectly impoverished who reside on the lowest rungs of indigenous caste systems. Sadly, many also labor under the false assumption that prostitution is a choice that is consciously made for economic reasons; however nothing could be further from the truth. No one awkens on a particular day with the determination to become a victim of human trafficking. The fact of the matter is that there are several sets of circumstances that render a girl vulnerable for being victimized by trafickers, which include:
  • Earlier childhood sexual abuse
  • Homelessness
  • Running Away
  • Inadequate supervision or care
  • Inadequate food, clothing and shelter
  • Family and/or community history of exploitation
  • Exposure to domestic violence in the home
Julie Posadas Guzman of H.E.A.T Watch

The Girls Rite of Passage Program (GROPP) provides Primary Prevention against the CSEC. Carefully planned interactive courses help to mitigate the risks to vulnerable teens for being victimized. It is our contention that a faith based foundation of pedagogy can provide strong preventive measures that can help not only at risk girls, but all teen girls to avoid victimization. The importance we place on primary prevention is based upon our belief that this horrific type of abuse can forever change how girls view themselves and approach relationships.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children has no color, no economic, no ethnic, and no gender boundaries. Predators are indiscriminate about whom they entrap, as long as they think money can be made by controlling a minor child and selling them for commercial sex. Parents may feel that because of their economic status their children are somehow be immune to this issue. Please be advised that this is not the case. Many children who are victimized come from very good, 2-parent homes in economically affluent areas.

One of the best ways to protect children is to combine lessons and values learned in the home with a comprehensive program that can enable them to avoid victimization by commercial sex predators.

We accept girls from all faith traditions and backgrounds, all ethnicities, and all Bay Area communities. We invite congregations, community based organizations, schools, and youth programs to partner with us in helping to stop this terrible trend in our communities.

The Rev. Barbara Jim-George is on a mission to stop a parasitic trend in her Oakland community.

Vulnerable teens are being lured into a life of human trafficking and prostitution - and she wants them to recognize the danger so they can avoid the trap and understand they are worth more than what predators might think.

"We cannot continue to put our heads in the sand," Jim-George said. "We have a responsibility, an obligation."

Jim-George feels it's her calling. An administrative assistant at UC's headquarters in downtown Oakland since 2000, Jim-George is also an ordained minister who made finding a faith-based approach to stopping human trafficking the subject of her thesis for her Master in Divinity degree and the focus of her research as a doctoral candidate at American Baptist Seminary of the West.

In 2009, she launched the Girls Rite of Passage Program at Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland for girls ages 11 to 16. The nine-course program spanning five months uses documentaries, guest speakers, skits and group discussions to teach girls about the dangers of human trafficking, and to empower them with a strong sense of self and the ability to make responsible decisions.

While government agencies and nonprofit groups help victims recover, Jim-George believes the faith community should provide prevention programs to stop girls from ever becoming victims.

"It is modern day slavery. Our program is designed to mitigate their risk of getting caught in human trafficking," Jim-George said.

Human trafficking is a lucrative $9 billion global industry, the fastest-growing organized crime in the world, according to the FBI.

Sexual exploitation and prostitution are the most common form, followed by forced labor. Victims are frequently snatched by predators or lured by attention, compliments, presents and promises of a better life that never materialize. They frequently work for little or no pay, are beaten or raped, and threatened with deportation or harm to them or their families.

About 2.5 million people are trafficked internationally each year, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Of those, the FBI estimates 15,000 to 18,000 are in the United States.

The average age of a girl caught in trafficking is 12 years old, Jim-George said; some are as young as nine.

Jim-George is reaching out to teenage girls who are most at-risk: young girls growing up in single-parent and/or low-income households living in cities where criminal behavior and violence have become part of the fabric of the community.

Her program is just in its infancy, drawing a dozen or so students primarily through word of mouth.

Jim-George has noticed changes in the girls that participate: a shy girl who could not make eye contact with anyone, until she gained confidence through the program. She is now performing better in school. Another girl, a repeat runaway, returned home under Jim-George's advice.

Girls Rite of Passage is admittedly small now, but Jim-George envisions an expanded curriculum with workshops and field trips. A component geared toward boys could be added in the future.

It operates on a shoestring budget financed through Jim-George's limited pocketbook and the help of parents who take turns supplying snacks. Local ministries have pitched in to supply food for an end-of-the-year celebration.

She hopes to eventually find a grant writer who can secure consistent funding to grow the program.

"I hope organizations will identify kids at risk and refer them to us so we can help," she said. "I'd like to expand the number of participants and the workshops to create a comprehensive umbrella under which the girls can see a better outlook for their lives, that they are worthy of making plans for what they want to do."

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Reverend Barbara Jim-George, M. Div.
Doctoral Candidate, American Baptist Seminary of the West
Transformational Church Leadership
PO Box 12214
Oakland, CA 94604-2214
(510) 479-3006-H / (510) 469-3843-C
Girls Rite of Passage Program        
2012 Certificate Ceremony
“Rising to the Top of Our Game in Spite of Adverse Circumstances”
Saturday May 26, 2012
10:00 am - 12:00 noon; Allen Temple Baptist Church
8501 International Blvd. Mary Morris Classroom


  1. Julie Posadas Guzman  - Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Bay Area H.E.A.T. Watch Program
  2. Nola Brantley Motivating, Inspiring , Supporting & Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY)

Come out to hear information about the pandemic of the human trafficking of minor children in our community from the District Attorney's Office, hear the riveting stories of how dynamic women from our community have risen to the top in spite of life cirvcumstances that could have crushed them, and to celebrate the achievements of girls who have successfully completed the 2011-12 academic year in the Rite of Passage Program.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Abolition Meeting of 5-12-12

Streets Disciples with Diamond  

For our monthly Abolition Meeting for May, we were blessed to have Sister Tenika Blue and Sister Diamond Berry of United Roots.  Their organization is based here in Oakland and they have been doing powerful work with the youth of our city.  They have also created New Beginnings Sister Circle, an 8 week journey into self mastery for young women ages 14-25.  We recognize that in order to stem the tide of human trafficking and oppression of our young women, we as a community have to intervene agressively and in a positive way while they are young.  This Sister Circle allows the girls to talk about the issues they face in a safe, encouraging and non judgemental way that fosters understanding and healing as well as develops connections and positive ties that bind.

Tenika  & Anne

The Allen Temple Streets Disciples is a ministry to the women of our community who have already suffered that lack of love and caring and connection, and who often fall through the cracks of society - in poverty, prostitution and homelessness.  Many of the sisters we serve have already been ensnared by human trafficking, domestic violence or street drama.  So we come together as Jesus's disciples to offer support to fragile families by serving them with free dinners, clothing, resources, support and unconditional love.

Janet & Rev Harry

Tenika and Diamond of New Beginnings Sisterhood Circle were raised right here in the "inner city". From a position of understanding and compassion, they have created a unique support group for our teenage girls who face the difficulties and hardships of the streets.  The Sister Circle stresses self esteem which leads to self empowerment.  Through hands on care and positive information and reinforcement, they teach the girls that they have everything within their own spirits that they need to thrive and succeed, even in the face of hardships.

Diamond, Harry and Tenika

The New Beginning Sisterhood Circle led an edgy, no-holds barred discussion about the challenges and pitfalls that face young women here in East Oakland, such as single parent homes, grandparent raising them, the difficulties and isolation of being LGBT, poverty, no government resources, illiteracy, shame.  They also shared with us concrete solutions on how we as the church can help - creating intergenerational environments of grandmoms, moms, aunties, daughters, nieces, sisters - reconnecting one to the other and elders passing down wisdom and love and daughters receiving guidance and love is the greater part of the solution. 

Streets Disciples and guests

There needs to be a reconnecting of the black community to each other.  There is so much disconnect and isolation, and disrespect and stagnation.  Our greatest institution, the black church, is being co-opted more and more by pimps, players and hustlers who don't know how to connect or dont care about the community.  Our black church are losing too many of our children.  Too many of them believe that they can't count on the church to get help.  Too many feel that they will only be judged harshly.  If they dont know the truth about our church legacy, then we as church leaders must teach them.  We have to go out and find the children.  We have to connect to all those who are fighting for our communities.  We have to break down the walls of isolation and reconnect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

For Sisters Only 4-21-12

For Sisters Only Gathering for April 21, 2012. 
Today was a beautiful day!  Sun is shining, weather is sweet.  A perfect day for holding our For Sisters Only gathering. 

So today we were in the J. Alfred Smith Fellowship Hall, a smaller, more intimate room, rather than the large gymnasium. Another gathering was taking place there. We had a few new ministering faces  as Dr. Eunice Shaw joined us today and preached a motivating sermon of self help and self esteem to our Sisters.  She talked about making decisions to do better in life, in spite of hardships.  It's not always easy but it is necessary.  The pain of staying stuck in a bad lifestyle is much more strident than the pain necessary to get moving toward self improvement.  What's so beautiful is that once we make the decision to move forward, God will make ways out of no way.  Things will shift in your favor once you have the faith to start the shifting.  We are co-creators with God, and our imput is important.

So the food was set up, and again we had the favorites of fried and baked chicken, sweet potato salad, greens and soft drinks.  We also had home made chow mein as well.  It was quite delicious!  In addition we had our free clothing give away as usual and our friends who do the fantastic manicures for the ladies. 

Last month we had a small number of ladies, but this month we probably had about 25 to 30 ladies.  More and more they are starting to trust and have faith that they are loved.  I personally spoke with one sister who was surprised that she hadn't heard about our For Sisters Only.  She said there was a point when she really could have used our services, so I told her to make sure to come back next month and bring her friends as well. She said she would.

I was so happy to have my friend of 35 years join the Streets Disciples.  The ministry is growing and let us continue to hold it in prayer, that we can reach more and more ladies in need.