Where are the Prevention-ists? That was my thought this morning when I woke up.
Last night as we were sitting in the Houston airport preparing for our last leg of the flight to Phoenix, Jaime said to me, “Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day”. As we sat, thinking about the organizations we have partnered with and looking at how other people, churches, and organizations took the time to acknowledge this travesty, all I could think of was how this is the week God chose for us NOMORE and 29:11 to partner for the 1st NOMORE Orphans event in this area of the country.
In the last few years, human trafficking has become a hot button topic. And it should be. The ever increasing opportunity to garner information coupled with the voices of celebrities in both the secular and faith based arenas has increased awareness ten fold and aided in furthering the movement to end slavery in our lifetime. As incredible as that is, for many, raising awareness and funds for the cause doesn't seem like enough and many people stall out in their passion to create change because they can’t engage in the cause in a personal way. They see fighting against as the only outlet for action when really there is so much more.
Did you know that orphans around the world are the most ‘at risk’ group of individuals for human trafficking? Did you know that statistics say that within 48 hours of aging out of the foster care system 7 out of 10 girls are approached by traffickers and many find themselves becoming victims? Did you know that one of the most powerful things we can do to fight human trafficking is prevention?
A few years ago I attended a symposium on human trafficking with a dear friend of mine who is a survivor. For 7 years she was trafficked in almost every major city in the US, including Phoenix. While we were there one of the audience members asked her a question… ‘why did you choose to stay?’ The whole room was silent as we waited for her reply. She explained that on her first night out on the streets she was terrified, she made no money and was beaten as a result. But when she went out the second night she made a little money and the man who had lured her into this life said 4 words she had never heard in her entire 20 years of life, words that would keep her trapped for years to come… ‘I’m proud of you.’ Suffering from abuse and neglect, rifling in and out of the foster care system, and the sheer lack of anyone taking a personal interest in her made her a prime target. And her story is not the exception but rather common when it comes to victims of human trafficking.
Later that afternoon I asked my friend if she thought hearing those words spoken earlier in her life by a mentor, a teacher, or a family friend would have made a difference and she said yes. Could it be that simple? That words spoken with purpose, expressing the plan, hope, and future that God has for each of us could prevent a child from becoming a victim… a slave. What if we chose to fight human trafficking with our time and our love. Whether standing as a voice in the justice system as an advocate, tutoring a child in a group home, or opening our home and giving a child the benefit of a family, if we turn our hearts to God and open our eyes to the world around us there is no limit to what we can do.
Let’s choose to be more than abolitionists, let’s choose to be prevention-ists!
Tami Kent/The No More Foundation