FAU student starts nonprofit to help human trafficking survivors

Abigail Howard founded the organization, named Project Micah 6:8, when she was 18.


Criminal justice major Abigail Howard wants to spread awareness of human trafficking and prompt change through her organization, Project Micah 6:8. Photo by Violet Castano

James Madera, Contributing Writer

It was a mission to a safehouse for victims of sex slavery in Tijuana, Mexico in early 2017 that changed FAU student Abigail Howard’s life.

Friends and family urged her not to go because of how dangerous Tijuana is, but Howard went anyway, she said. It ended up being her first mission trip and her first time visiting a safehouse and its human trafficking survivors — one of whom was a 4-year-old girl named Guadalupe, whose mother sold her into the sex slave industry.

This connection with Guadalupe prompted Howard to kickstart Project Micah 6:8 at age 18, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others in Guadalupe’s situation. Howard is now 20, and while she’s majoring in criminal justice, she spends her time outside class visiting various safehouses across the globe with her volunteers to ensure that rescued sex trafficking victims are receiving the care they need.

Through annual or bi-annual visits, which are funded entirely through public donations, her organization makes sure that the facilities are suited to take care of the victims, many of whom are children. They check to ensure that facility conditions are up to par and directly engage with the safehouse residents to see how they’re healing.

Howard said the name “Project Micah 6:8” was chosen from the Bible. 

“Micah 6:8 states: ‘whatever you do, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.’ Project Micah lives by that verse, whatever we do we fight for others, we love others while fulfilling our mission,” Howard said via email.

Anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, according to the U.S. State Department, and about 80 percent of them are sexually exploited, nonprofit organization Do Something said.

It goes beyond directly helping the victims only, however. Howard also wants to spread awareness of this issue, which she does every chance she gets.  

When she was hospitalized earlier this year in March to have a tumor removed from her bladder, Howard spoke to her nurse Jhamil Milord about the organization and what he could do to help. He said this “really opened [his] eyes to the sex trafficking industry.”

“I donate money to her every little chance I get, because I’m very happy that there is someone in this world that wants to help people like Abigail does,” Milord said. “Because of her I have actually volunteered more at the women’s center at my church and just help people any chance I get. She has inspired me a lot.”

Howard also tries to help locally when she can. She visited a Miami safehouse for human trafficking victims in July. Betty Lara, the safehouse’s executive director, said that “her passion to help others shines through her.”

When asked how this became a passion of hers, Howard said: “By experiencing life inside a safe house and realizing how much healing it brings to a survivor’s life. And how there are so many organizations that want to end human sex trafficking. They start with awareness, but nothing seems to happen after that. Project Micah strives to be an organization that goes beyond awareness.”

James Madera is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].