So your passion is for women?
This first mission trip/volunteer option I have is very near and dear to my heart. This is the organization that got the idea for my blog truly rolling, and I think it is a truly amazing project with an even more amazing stance. I have always had a passion for women’s ministry, and was able to have some exposure to it this past summer as I interned under the women’s pastor of the Summit Church in Indiana, PA. I feel that we, as women, are a force to be reckoned with. We are powerful yet beautiful, we are gentle but strong. If you have this same desire to reach out to women in the mission world, then this organization is for you.
The organization’s name is A21 campaign. A21 was started by Christine Caine (if you don’t know her, I strongly recommend you look her up, what an amazing person!) and her husband in 2008. The organization was created to abolish human trafficking in the world forever. The business of human trafficking rakes in more than 150 billion dollars every year, making it the fastest growing criminal industry in our world. These numbers have only kept climbing in recent years, and we are now on the mission to make it stop. While we don’t know the exact number, we do know that there are millions of slaves in the world today being sold into the human trafficking industry. And the even more sickening statistic? Only 1% of victims are ever rescued. One percent. Out of millions. That fact alone sickens me.
Trafficking comes in many forms, and the first that pops into mind is sex trafficking, but there is also forced labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and child soldiers. They are trafficked by things such as false job advertisements, sold into the industry by family, abduction, or trafficked by a friend. While all these methods disgust me, the one that stood out to me the most was being sold into slavery by your family. Can you imagine waking up one day, entering your living room to find your mother sobbing and two men grabbing hold of you and your sister and taking you to a completely different world? A world where there is no light, a world where your sole job would be to service gentlemen caller’s day in and day out. Never knowing when your next meal is coming, and never knowing if you will ever see your family again or even see sunshine.
When reading through the website, I found three testimonies that were offered on their “stories” page, and reading through them absolutely broke my heart. What a broken world we live in is all I can think to myself as I read through their stories. One stuck out to me specifically, of a girl overseas named Elena (Elena’s name was changed for her protection, as she is now safe in A21’s care.)
“Under the veil of night, Elena* was escorted to an unmarked vehicle during an undercover brothel raid in Greece. Unbeknownst to her, she had just been rescued by policemen wearing civilian clothes. Elena* had been trafficked from Bulgaria and due to the language barrier, the policemen had no way of explaining that she was now safe. For all she knew, they could have been traffickers coming to sell her again.
When the police car reached the station and a translator was present, Elena* explained how she had been trafficked only days before. She had been raped repeatedly and sold for sex. Although it had only lasted a few days, the terror of abuse felt like a lifetime.”
The other stories were much like Elena’s accept that some of these women are in slavery for months, or years, or even never to be seen again. And what absolutely broke my heart about her story was that she wasn’t just raped. She had been raped REPEATEDLY. She had to live the nightmare over and over again, all for a trafficking lord who just saw her as a sex object, not as the living beautiful woman she was.
Do these facts hit your heart in a way that you’ve never felt before? Then I think that you might have found a good match on where to start your journey of changing tomorrow. So now that you have this fire within you, how can you help?
To begin, A21 has three campaigns offered that can be brought back in to your community, if you are not looking to travel outside of your comfort zone just yet. The first campaign that they have offered is “Can You See Me?” which is based in the UK, and therefore isn’t completely accessible if you are living in the states. But the campaign’s purpose is to reach more victims and to catch more traffickers. It allows people to take action themselves, and report tips which are then turned over to law enforcement who take the initiative to begin an investigation. The second campaign partnered with by A21 campaign is “It’s a Penalty”. This campaign uses famous athletes, such as Usain Bolt, to promote the organization and to protect children from abuse around the world, and prevent the exploitation of children. There third campaign, and one I feel very strongly about, seeing as it is something you could do in your hometown, is “The Walk for Freedom”. You can sponsor your own walk, even right here in small town USA, and it is relatively very simple idea. It is a walk, just like a Susan G. Komen fundraiser, accept that Walk for Freedom’s attention grabber is that the participants walk in a single file line, dressed in all black, with black tape across their mouths. This causes awareness to turn into action, and action will lead to justice.
These organizations sound amazing, but I want to do more.
If you are thinking that, then the next step in the fight to end slavery would be to volunteer with the organization. They have 12 location around the globe, so you can either stay right in the states, or branch out into another part of the world. They have two locations in America, one in California and another in Charlotte, NC. They have offices all throughout the world as well, in every continent. They are based out of the UK, Bulgaria, Greece, Norway, Ukraine, Denmark, Netherlands, Thailand, South Africa, and New South Wales. So, needless to say, wherever you are feeling led, there is a place for you to go. While they are looking for specific areas in which to volunteer at, they are open to an email talking about what you are passionate about, and then finding a place that is the perfect fit for you. The current positions that they are looking for volunteers is in Administration, Marketing, Education, Communications, Writing, IS, Supporter Relations, and Operational. These volunteer opportunities are offered for 3-6 months at a time, and each location has a different list of requirements.
I am so happy to have started this blog, because my passion has just grown exponentially, and I am so glad I had the chance to share all I have learned. I hope that by the end of reading this, you feel as inspired as I do to take on the world, and change tomorrow by taking the step to end the injustice of human trafficking. That one step, can lead us one step closer to changing the world.
My leaving comment is this, if you felt something stir deep in your heart at this, then won’t you join the fight to raise that 1% statistic?
Check out the website for yourself!