Saturday, July 17, 2010 intense

Wow… we’ve only been at The Samaritan Women project for a day, and I can already tell this is going to be a powerful round.

Now that I have a better idea of what they do, I want to explain it:

The property is 23 acres. There are two homes on the property, one built in the 1890’s and one in the 1920’s; both by rich entrepreneurs and both have rich history with a diverse past. Now, the 1920’s mansion is what we live in, and both buildings are under restoration. When I say mansion, I mean it. The one we live in has a kitchen, dining room, living room, porch area, bathroom, pantry and more… on the first floor. There are 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on the second floor; and two more bedrooms (at least) on the third floor… MANSION.

The other property, which is still unlivable, is more than 8,000 square feet… I won’t get into the room details.

Baltimore has the third highest rate of human trafficking in our nation… coupled with D.C. Human trafficking includes selling people for labor and sex (among other things). This is a HUGE industry, that largely goes unnoticed by the general public… and our nations capital has one of the highest rates. The average age of humans sold in the sex industry is 12… that’s an average. People are sold for sex, from infants on up. Absolutely disgusting. We’ve already heard some horror stories, and we’ll get to meet families of victims during our time here. It’s a high intensity and anxiety causing subject… which is why I’m writing about it while sitting in the backyard, on a patio, with only the sounds of birds, the 11 free range chickens here on the farm (there were 12, but a snake got one last night), and the 2+ acre farm directly behind me. I feel like I’m camping, and I have a Baltimore zip code.

The Samaritan Women is a work in progress, but the plan is to have it become a recovery center for women rescued from trafficking, those who are recovering from addictions, etc. Vetnor, the 8,000 sq foot mansion will be able to host 16-20 women at a time. It will be not only a residence for them, but a spiritual retreat center and a vocational school as well. The idea is to allow women to recover as long as they need, teach them vocational skills for the purpose of getting a job, or just to survive on their own. The 2 acre farm, which is slated for heavy expansion, will be the source of all vegetables for the cooking.. an all organic vocaitional school. They already have the chickens, and the plan is to get goats in the future, too. They’ll become very self-sufficient. It’s such a beautiful place. The farm actually is actually home to the highest point in Baltimore, so over Easter weekend TSW built a large wood cross at this point (TSW has been founded upon Christian values, but does not force them unto people, rather provides them the opportunity to become a believer). This place is going to be powerful, and SO successful.. you can feel it. It’s largely run by 3 people… they are incredible, and I barely know them.

Day 1 was relatively intense. We went to Wilkens street, which is one of the rougher parts of Baltimore. We found a side street and set up a mini carnival. The idea is to show people in the neighborhood that people do care about them. We have inflatables for the kids, free food, information on churches, etc. There was also free food… there are so many partnerships and things I could write about…

The most powerful part was this: I was cooked hot dogs… haha. I did, but that wasn’t powerful in itself. One of the ladies I worked with told me her story. She has been drug free for 2 years… she was a heroine addict for 11. She lost her husband, her house and all 4 kids. Two of her kids went into what she called “the system.” She gets to see all of her kids now, one still is very upset with her and one is following her footsteps… and she’s terrified. This woman has a great heart, and I never would have guessed this was her story. She still struggles every day to not take any kind of drug. Something as little as an aspirin could set her off into needing that feeling of “nothing” continuously. She already wants that feeling all the time; her self control is tremendous. This women, as an addict, didn’t care about eating, clothing, her kids, her job, nothing. She was also subject to violence and, yes, she was a rape victim. All related to her need to get high. I heard her story… and then saw one in progress.

While we were there, we witnessed one woman stumble in, drunk, and unable to control her body. As we escorted her away from the event she fell and hit her head on the curb… she couldn’t walk or anything. Clueless… her son carried her home.

Just before we left we saw exactly what TSW is trying to stop. A 24 year old woman happened upon us as we were packing up. She is a drug addict, and was more than high. She was confused and in need to say the least. They got her to sit down, bough her food, brought her new clothes, gave her advice and talked with her for over an hour. They tried convincing her to go to detox, but she said “no, because they won’t let me have 20 Zanex a day.” This stuff is real…

TSW is going to be an eye opener. It’s also going to be a relaxing place for us the enjoy the natural beauty that we all take advantage of and ignore on a daily basis. No A/C, no internet, no TV and lots of organic veggies, a compost pile and, soon enough, a human waste compost spot… details to come… I’m excited.

This got long… but there’s just so much to say… I can’t wait.

Check out the TSW website:


  1. i'm literally at a loss for words at how excited i am for you with this project...

  2. This sounds amazing Ryan! I am so glad I found your blog last month. Thanks for posting it on facebook so I keep coming back for more. As I read your posts I am amazed at how strong of a person and leader you have become - you truly know who you are and what you want to get out of life. It sounds like you are doing so many great things and learning so much about the world. I can't wait until you are back in WI and I can hear all about it in person!! Take care :)