ROSEVILLE, CA - A team of local artists will be leaving Sunday for Cambodia on a two-week mission of mercy, painting murals to help children recovering from sex trafficking.
Roseville artist and father of two, Shane Grammer is leading a group called "Heart for the Kids."
Grammer said his six-person team will be traveling to Svay Pak just outside of the capital of Cambodia. The area is known worldwide as a notorious red light district for child prostitution.
The team plans on painting murals for a new building used to help educate rescued and recovering victims.
Grammer said he wants "to bring hope and joy to these girls who've been rescued from human trafficking through the arts. We believe these girls are pure. They've been born pure. But they've been taken advantage of."
According to UNICEF, 55-thousand girls and young women are involved in sex trafficking. 35 percent of those girls are under the age of 16.
The local team will be working closely with a larger effort by Agape International, which is based in Rocklin. Agape has spent the past two years working to help rescue children from sex trafficking in Svay Pak.
"We're really focused on prevention efforts there in returning hope to these people," said Renne Burkhalter of Agape International. "They've had no hope for alternatives. Every family in that village is expected to traffic their girls by the time they are 9 or 10 years old."
Grammer said hope is a powerful thing for child sex trafficking victims.
"We really believe that what we're doing will show the girls something they can fight for," Grammer said.
Grammer said he plans on blogging daily, offering updates and photos for supporters at his Heart for the Kids web site.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org