Elise Kemp working to make a change
By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of Elise Kemp
In May, Elise Kemp, who grew up in the Castle Pines community, graduated from Whitworth University. While finishing her bachelor’s degree in political science, Kemp cultivated her vision for making an impactful and meaningful difference in the lives of men, women and children caught in a cycle of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Costa Rica.
Kemp said the call for helping the impoverished began when she took a Spanish immersion trip to Guatemala while attending Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch. “There were girls younger than me carrying babies on their hip,” she recalled. While this trip changed her life, she didn’t feel her work was making a lasting change.
This thought would needle her as she finished high school and went off to college in Southern California. After her first semester, Kemp realized it wasn’t the right fit. She came home, and while nannying, Kemp said she had the opportunity to take time and closer examine her time in Guatemala and the feeling like she could do more for those in need.
She was led to Face of Justice, a nonprofit organization run primarily with a staff of self-supporting missionaries, who work without pay to implement the mission of the organization. Collectively, they work to defend, shelter, empower and love survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation across Central America.
While taking a break from college, Kemp spent a summer interning with Face of Justice in Costa Rica. During this time, Kemp found her stride in serving this community. Her internship consisted of working within both Casa Libertad, a safe-house for minors who have been rescued from the streets and Casa Esperanza, a daytime shelter for women and teenagers who live and work in the city’s brothels.
Face of Justice partners with Free the Girls Project and helps create a safe economic opportunity for those looking to be free from commercial sexual exploitation. It provides individuals like Kemp the tools to start an entrepreneurial business. Kemp said that during her time interning she was a mentor and advocate. She walked alongside each girl as they went on a journey to build skills, advance their personal skills and develop long-term goals – whether those goals were to finish the equivalency of a high school education or to continue to build a business.
Now that college is done, Kemp is ready to commit to returning to Costa Rica and her work with Face of Justice. She hopes to make changes at both the macro level through working toward policy changes in the sex industry and at the micro level creating deep meaningful relationships with the girls and young women that she mentors.
Currently, the boarder remains closed so Kemp is working on fundraising so she can fulfill her goals of returning to Costa Rica and continue her ministry and work. Kemp says asking for support has been humbling, and there have been so many amazing people who have already pledged their help. She said, “This isn’t about me. It doesn’t have to be me that goes to Costa Rica. God has called me to do this work and He will provide what’s needed.”
To learn more about Face of Justice, visit https://www.faceofjustice.org. Donations to support Kemp with her work in Costa Rica can be made at https://meigiving.org/donate/elisekemp.