BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 14, 2019– Thistle Farms, in Tennessee, is a home for women who are survivors of human trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. It has helped many women, and its sister communities around the world have helped even more. Now, a similar home for women coming out of prison is coming to Belize and will be called Aunty’s Place.
The establishment of Aunty’s Place is still in the works, and the founder of Thistle Farms, Becca Stevens, is currently in Belize, working with Virginia Echols, host of “Moments of Inspiration” on KREM Radio. They have already visited the prison and today they held a workshop to move forward with the idea. In its inception, Aunty’s Place will be located in Hattieville and will cater to four women.
Aunty’s Place will not be a shelter or a halfway house, but rather a home to which women can go while they are trying to figure out “what’s next” in their lives. They will receive support and care while they are residing there.
A building has already been procured to house Aunty’s Place, but the ceiling of the building is in need of repair, and so a fundraiser, called a “Justice Tea Party”, will be held tomorrow at the ITVET. Both men and women are invited to attend.
Stevens said the reason she started Thistle Farms is that she felt that enough was not being done for women, and she wanted to create something better. Regina Mullins has joined Stevens on her visit to Belize. Mullins was one of the first graduates of Thistle Farms 23 years ago, and said that through the institution she was able to get her education.
Mullins was able to start a new life and to get a job, which she still has today. She heads the education arm of Thistle Farms.
Stevens said that when she visited the prison yesterday, the women all wanted the same things that women around the world want: employment, and a means for their children to get an education.
The first steps to creating Aunty’s Place have already been made, through the acquisition of a building, and the presence of a community that is willing to work towards creating such an establishment. The next few steps will include different fundraisers and interviews to bring awareness to the initiative.
Stevens has helped set up similar communities in 26 countries over the world. In the US alone, there are 226 beds around the country for women in need of support.
Like these communities, Aunty’s Place will provide women with the time and space to decide the direction in which they want to take their lives. There will also be activities such as farming, gardening, and sewing to teach them, ways to earn an income.
Aunty’s Place promises to help and house women who are truly in need of just those things, and will be a big improvement in the lives of the women coming out of prison.