She Is Noble
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Kelly McClelland

Fighting the epidemic of modern global slavery from Michigan

Championing the Cause of Women Worldwide

By Megan Gieske

Kelly McClelland has an international perspective on sex trafficking. She’s the Director of Women’s Advocacy for Extreme Response International and says, “There’s more slavery today than ever with 10-30 million slaves,” whether in sex or labor.

“There’s a myth in Cape Town, South Africa that raping a virgin will cure you of HIV/AIDS,” McClelland says. At a conference in South Africa, she asked the 52 women attending, “How many of you have been raped, sexually abused?” All 52 of them raised their hands. McClelland says, “They knew that I had heard them—their cries, their tears, and I promised them that I would be a change maker.”

For 11 years, McClelland had been the Women’s Ministry Director at her church, but when Extreme Response International invited her to be Director of Women’s Advocacy in October of 2013, she decided “to hear the stories of defenseless women from Nepal, Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Detroit and the Philippines . . . and become their voice.”

By speaking internationally in Asia, Africa, South America, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, McClelland champions causes. She advocates for the plights of women, the resources necessary for their success, through humanitarian support. McClelland says, “What I do is coming alongside our global partners in the restoration of women that have been involved in human trafficking.”

Women’s Advocacy at Extreme Response International provides safe houses for rescued victims of sex trafficking and counseling for the abused and abandoned in Nepal and Ecuador. The safe houses allow them to train the soldiers and counselors at the border crossings to identify possible victims of sex trafficking for whom justice can even be achieved. They also teach and educate them so they can live in freedom, and develop leaders among them.

In South Africa, McClelland is beginning to see restoration through simple projects like Alabaster Box, which gives manicures, pedicures, and massages to women suffering from domestic violence. McClelland says, “They’re opening up and telling their stories of suffering under husbands and fathers.” They’ve even raised $30,000, part of which will be used to build a playground for the use of Kenyan women, who are giving birth after being victims of rape.

“It never leaves me,” McClelland says, “My mind is always going on the visionary, and the unrest of never doing enough . . . always wanting to protect the faces of these women.”

She tells the story of a girl from Ecuador, 12 and pregnant by her traffickers, who wanted to sell the baby’s organs to scientific research once the baby was born. She and her baby were brought into safety at a local church. McClelland says, “It’s a lot of darkness but I’m shedding light in very dark corners.”

McClelland says, “At the end of the day, I want to be exhausted knowing that those 52 women in South Africa . . . I represented them and when I promised, ‘I’ll fight for you,’ I want to do that.”