Recently it has been very apparent to me that here, in the United States, we have been blinded to human trafficking that is going on in our own country, our own city, our own neighborhood.
Recently my city recieved a $500,000 grant to be used specifially to fight human trafficking. The community's response has, honestly, outraged me.
Many people think it is ridiculous. They don't understand why we would spend money on a "problem we don't have" rather than using it to fight gangs, drugs, and prostitution. People don't realize that often times these problems go hand in hand.
The police department has rescued over a dozen girls this year from human traffickers, but people see that number as small and insignificant. Definitely not worth the police force's resources. What they don't understand is that there are, I am sure, at least hundreds more. Waiting to be rescued. In my community alone.
I worked as a group home manager for two years, and I saw countless numbers of girls- and boys- who were in the state's juvenile court system because of crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers. I know it is happening in my state and my city, because I have met the victims and I have heard the stories.
Unfortunately, many people do not know the truth. For some I believe it is simple unawareness, while others willingly choose ingnorance and denial.
The fact is, that by keeping it a far away problem, people believe it is not their responsibility. If it is a far away problem we can write a check or write a blog and believe we have done our part. We can even not care, as many choose to do.
But when it becomes a problem in our city and our neighborhood, we run out of excuses.
The other day I posted a link to Stephanie's list of five ways to help stop human trafficking. This list includes mentoring, buying fair trade, not supporting the porn industry, being aware/raising awareness, and praying (please check out her post to see these points in more detail.) If you have not done so already, I encourage you to read her post and see how your involvement in these things can really make a difference.
To add to your resources I want to give you the phone number to call if you see any out of the ordinary or suspicious activity. You know that feeling you get that something is wrong? It may be a twinge in your stomach or chills up your spine. Many times these things have value. Please, when in doubt, call. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
I would also encourage you to visit the Conspiracy of Hope blog.
The post "America's Homeless Youth and Human Trafficking" tells a story of human trafficking here in the United States. As this courageous woman tells her story you will see the many opportunities that others had to intervene, but did not. I hope this story will open your eyes to the atrocities going on around us.
Last, but not least, my friend Michelle and her husband Jason have decided to step up and do more to fight human trafficking. God has placed it on their hearts to start their own non-profit organization to help girls who have escaped their traffickers have a safe place to heal. Please visit The Cinderella House ministry at their blog, Restore Innocence, and see if there is a way for you to be involved.
I pray that these words do not fall empty on your mind, but that they take root in your heart. May your eyes be opened so that no opportunity to help may pass you by.