The opportunity to positively influence someone’s life is what a lot of people aim to do, and it is something Alma Tucker has accomplished with the help of her family.
Tucker is the president of Red Binacional de Corazones, an organization that works on prevention and providing aid to victims of human trafficking and sexual violence. She said human trafficking was a topic they wanted to tackle but in the beginning they were not sure how the community of Tijuana would respond.
“It’s not something that people combat openly or talk about because there is a fear of the organized crime behind it,” Tucker said.
Preventing and attacking human trafficking is not an easy job because there is a lack of education on the subject and because many people do not want to report incidents, but Tucker is dedicated to her job.
Originally from Tijuana, her parents encouraged Tucker and her siblings to not only pursue an education and a career, but to also help those that are less fortunate.
Tucker studied psychology at CETYS University in Tijuana and has worked for the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego in the Protection Department.
During her time at consulate, she gained experience with cases related to human trafficking but was touched with a particular case of a 14 year old girl who was being exploited by a smuggler. Tucker was assigned to speak to the girl and she realized that she was able to relate to her and calm her down.
“I noticed how important it is to be with the victim in the moment, make her feel heard, aided, and not to make her feel responsible,” Tucker said.
She said she loved her job at the consulate but she wanted to make helping others a part of her everyday life.
Tucker, her husband, and their children are dedicated to their church in Eastlake and through a volunteer program that her son completed for the church they began volunteering at orphanages in Mexico.
With the help of her family they created their own organization in 2010 in Tijuana and International Network of Hearts in San Diego.
“As a family we are even more united (and) have found a cause to help other people,” she said.
In 2013, they opened a home for survivors The Garden House or La Casa Del Jardin, a house in Tijuana where the organization offers refuge, education, legal aid and therapy for minors who have survived sexual abuse or pornography.
Tucker said people don’t understand that rescuing the girls isn’t enough they also need help in the rehabilitation process. She said people always ask why the girls simply did not escape from their abusers.
“Psychological jails are even stronger than jails made out of metal,” Tucker said.
She said victims are not only threatened if they leave but they are also scared to go back to their families.
“When a victim of kidnapping is rescued they tell you to take them with their parents or ask to communicate with them, but the last thing a victim of sex trafficking wants to do is return home because they feel dirty or have been violated and they are made to believe they are the problem,” Tucker said.
The president of the organization depends on her family to keep her balanced and she said that she would not be able to do this job alone. Tucker’s husband and her sons motivate her to keep on working and so do the girls at the home.
“Everytime I see their faces I see happiness, they are happy, thankful and they appreciate us. It justifies all our efforts and our hard work,” Tucker said.
Anyone interested in learning more about International Network of Hearts can visit their site: http://inetworkofhearts.org or to make donations to the Garden House call (044) 664-408-0452.