"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
Here’s my heart on my sleeve and I hope it touches your heart. Some of you guys know how passionate I am about ending human trafficking.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, reducing people to a property value. Millions of people are bought, sold, traded, and transported against their will every day. They are compelled – physical forced, deceived, and convinced under emotional duress – into sexual exploitation, begging, sacrificial worship, removal of human organs, as child brides, child soldiers, working in sweat shops, and domestic servitude. It’s ugly and it’s real.
Even if you already know what human trafficking is, who would think that it happens in America? We’ve moved past slavery and treating people so abominably, right? I live near a major thoroughfare for human trafficking, yes, in my picturesque corner of northwest Washington. The Interstate-5 corridor from Vancouver, B.C. To Portland, Oregon sees the highest rate of trafficking on the West Coast. My neighbors don’t even know. Most of the people in my community would be shocked and appalled that something so awful happens here. I’ve got family living near Atlanta, Georgia, the major trafficking hotspot in the U.S. I had a much easier time spotting trafficked victims on the streets in Thailand and Cambodia. Here you have to ask questions, watch quietly, and get the word out to others.
Last week I learned of a new organization in my area that is trying to combat trafficking. I hope to contribute as a volunteer for awareness campaigns and as a writer for public relations and marketing materials. Our goal is to build awareness in our community about the fact that human trafficking happens here. We want to stop the trafficking of minors that is happening right now through child prostitution. We want to start a safe house for local kids that are rescued.
The average age for an American child to be forced into prostitution is 12 – 14 years old. That’s the average, for some it’s as young as 8 or 9. And once they’re in, most will only live another 7-10 years before succumbing to STDs, drugs, murder, or suicide. And that’s aside from millions of victims of any age that are trafficked into the U.S. from all over the world.
Learning about this is awful, terrifying, and heartbreaking. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. It’s emotionally exhausting to hear about the violent abuse and treatment of trafficked victims. Human trafficking has to stop. And that starts now.
It starts with asking questions:
Check out Stop The Traffik. They’re a great hub organization and can put you in touch with a local anti-trafficking group. The website is also a great way to keep up on trafficking and how to combat it around the world.
So while I’m asking questions, how about this: Are you ready to make a difference? Are you willing to change the world? MLK Jr. had a dream of equality for all. Let’s have a dream of freedom for all. This is how we change the world, one life at a time.