The Demand Project will open new private shelter next month
Mount Arukah is a 30- to 60-bed facility for sex trafficking victims age 11-17 from across the country.
Although Mount Arukah will initially serve minors who are victims of sex trafficking, Kristin Weis says she and her husband, Jason, hope to add a transitional living center for adult victims in the future.
Thirteen months ago, Kristin and Jason Weis had no plans to operate a community for victims of sex trafficking. They were plenty busy leading the Demand Project, which focuses on the prevention of sex trafficking, the prosecution of those responsible, and the rescue and restoration of victims, which occurred, until now, through a nonresidential program.
Generous donation makes residential program possible
But Kristin Weis says their vision “exploded” in January 2017 when a generous donor offered them 54 acres in eastern Oklahoma, a gift worth more than $3 million.
Now the Weises are eight months into a renovation of the property’s existing facilities, which once served as a children’s home. The campus will reopen in March as Mount Arukah, a 30- to 60-bed facility for sex trafficking victims age 11-17 from across the country. The unique private facility will be able to house the largest number of trafficked minors in Oklahoma.
“We’ve sacrificed less than a year of our lives to give a trafficked girl a lifetime of freedom,” Weis says. “It will be worth every minute of it.”
The meaning of "arukah"
In Hebrew, arukah means “restoring to soundness and wholeness.” While living on campus, clients will receive intensive therapies, learn healthy relationship skills, work toward the next step in their education and get help addressing physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial and legal issues. The average stay will be 18 months to two years, according to Weis.
Crisis management in tandem with residential care
An off-site crisis center will operate in conjunction with Mount Arukah to temporarily house minor and adult victims of sex trafficking, according to Weis. The center will be a resource for law enforcement agencies in the first 24-48 hours after a victim is rescued.
Although Mount Arukah is a relatively new element of the Demand Project’s vision, Weis says it is a necessary one. “Mount Arukah exists because we have a breakdown of protection over these kids,” Weis says. “We have to figure out how we as a community can agree it’s our obligation and opportunity to protect these kids.”
The Demand Project needs a variety of donated items for Mount Arukah. For a list of needs, visit thedemandproject.org.