Shining a Spotlight on Willow International

The Institute is launching a new SPOTLIGHT series in which we are highlighting organizations who are taking bold steps in the fight against trafficking. Our first spotlight features WILLOW INTERNATIONAL. A nonprofit working to end human trafficking in Uganda through restoration, partnership, and prevention.

Willow International provides individualized case management services for minor and adult sex trafficking victims in Uganda. The organization’s two residential facilities accommodate up to 36 girls and women at a time, and Willow continues to provide external case management services for its graduates. Willow allows survivors to recover in safety, receive tailored educational and skills training, and work through the emotional tolls inflicted by their traffickers. Hundreds of girls and young women have benefited from Willow’s work since its founding in 2009.

Willow is led by Executive Director Kelsey Galaway, who spends part of her year in Orange, California, and the other part in Kampala, Uganda. Institute Founding Director John Richmond was initially introduced to Galaway by Jim Gash, Director of the Global Justice Program at Pepperdine University’s School of Law. This first meeting evolved into a partnership, leading to the first-ever anti-trafficking conference in Uganda in June 2017, which was co-hosted by Willow, the Ugandan Judiciary, Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program, and the Human Trafficking Institute.

And, training on how to enforce the trafficking laws in Uganda as well as how to prosecute traffickers is needed.

“At Willow, we try to work with the police whenever we can,” Galaway said. “The reality is that out of the hundreds of survivors Willow cares for, only one of their traffickers was ever convicted of a crime. That means that over 99% of our survivors don’t deal with the police because the police never stopped their traffickers. The traffickers have likely moved on to new victims.”

The fight against trafficking takes all of us, and by partnering together we can decimate trafficking, care for survivors, and provide the needed training and resources for law enforcement and prosecutors. There is hope.

“The survivors themselves also give me hope,” Galaway said. Watching them live out their lives, go back to school, graduate, and have families inspires me. They are resilient. Hope comes from knowing that the crime of human trafficking is not the end for the survivors.

Click here to download a copy of the Willow International Spotlight to learn more about this organization and to read an interview with Kelsey Galaway.

Published by

Kelli Ross

Kelli Ross

Kelli’s background is in journalism, public relations and peacebuilding. Prior to joining the Institute, she was the Communications Officer / Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Lwala Community Alliance in Nashville, Tennessee. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington, D.C., directly supporting the Bureau’s Assistant Secretary; as director of communications for microfinance organization Five Talents in Vienna, Virginia; and as business reporter at The Jackson (TN) Sun. She has worked and studied in Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia, India, Peru, and Israel. Kelli holds a BA in communication arts from Union University and an MS in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.