Another part in my series on the human trafficking sting I was a part of alongside Operation Underground Railroad Rescue. Read the first parts here and here. After everything was said and done. After the criminals were processed. After the children were collected and sent on to a better place. After we were escorted to our waiting cars. After the drive to the safe house past an ocean and streets lined with concrete buildings and rusted bikes. After I took a breath and then another and tried to eat my dinner. After sitting under a tree and watching it’s fade to match the darkness of the night sky. I started asking the question that all of us have after encountering the fraying edges of mortality.
“How can this possibly be happening?”
Funny how an answer can be expected and shocking at the same time.
It’s all about supply and demand.
The traffickers sell the children because there is a demand. Remove the the customer base and you end human trafficking. Unfortunately, the demand for trafficked children is expanding exponentially. It’s a growth industry with no signs of slowing down. The purchasers of children tend to be western men, Americans and Canadians are up at the top of the list of offenders. The internet and the ease of worldwide travel has made it easy to find anything men and women want - including trafficked children. According to the men who work with OUR, the tie that binds nearly all the pedophiles they’ve caught is an early and excessive dependence on pornography. Of course, some men and women are just predators even without the help of addiction and disease. They’ve caught those, too.
Curbing supply is nearly as complicated as ending demand. Many of these babies are kidnapped from already vulnerable situations. Some are taken from loving homes. Some are sold by family members, fathers, mothers, cousins, uncles, grandparents - some of whom were sold by their family, too. Some children don’t have home or family, some are forced to choose between starving and the dark work offered by a man on the street - which we can all agree is really no choice at all. All are victims of a breakdown of family and/or community. And all are no different in heart or worth than the babies you and I put to bed every night.
These kids are our kids.
So what can we do? Quite a lot, actually. OUR is running a campaign called, Become An Abolitionist - Give a Lincoln, Save a Slave. This is just a monthly $5 donation. Less than you spent on diet coke this week. Where does your money go? Directly to their missions. Sisters, I was there. I saw the work this money does. It purchases plane tickets, equipment and supplies. I watched it get counted out on the table as OUR pretended to purchase the kids. I saw children literally saved because people like you and me decided we could part with a few bucks. Money is a resource. It can be used for good. For the greater good. For the greatest good.
Let’s do some good, shall we?
OUR is made up of men and women that are JUST like you and me. They have kids and soccer games and mortgages and little fights and big dreams. We can work alongside them from our kitchen tables. We can raise awareness. I’m not talking about some do nothing hashtag campaign. I’m talking about real conversations - the kind of talk that leads to good compassion, greater understanding and better works. The kind that brings in funding and helping hands. We should be proclaiming the plight of these babies from the rooftops and then we need to start seeking solutions and love. We need to get our family, neighbors and that woman in line at the grocery store involved.
And finally, we need to protect the children in our homes and the ones that live down the street. Our communities are not free from these horrors. The child sex trade is happening here. In abundance. Our children are being exploited, too and as families and communities we are failing them. Become involved. Keep an eye out. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. The children in our lives, even the ones that live five doors down, are our responsibility. Their safe keeping is our obligation. We must reach down and lift up. Again and again and again.
Let’s get to work.
My tv appearance about OUR and the work they do.