Sunday, May 19, 2013

Where Do We Start?

I watched as she dove head first into a box of donated stuffed animals. She pulled out a plush seal about half the size of her tiny body, looked at it, and squeezed it tightly. She then set the soft toy aside and pulled out another one, giving it love as well.

Her big dark eyes were alight. Her dimples deepened on her little brown face when she looked up at me with a smile.

When I was a child, I loved my plush toys.... more than anything in the world. (I still love them!) She exuded pure innocence and joy as she played. So much like me at six-years-old, but nothing like me.

The harsh reality hit me as I watched her delight in the small things. "This little girl was rescued from prostitution." It sounded in my mind but I struggled to comprehend it.

Months earlier, men would have raped her on a daily basis. Someone would have made money off of it. Quite possibly she was sold by her own family.

My stomach dropped as I looked at her bright face. I could not.... could not comprehend. I wanted to catch her up in my arms, protect her, love her, erase everything that had happened to her.

My mind fails to grasp at it. It is a reality I struggle to face, even as I look into the eyes of prostitutes here in Cambodia. I watch a 12-year-old on a street getting dropped off by a John (a client).

I thank God I cannot comprehend it. The overwhelming pain that floods my heart would jade me for life. I thank God I had a Dad and Mom who understood my value and would have died before allowing me to undergo such harm. I am one of the fortunate ones. I am not more deserving. But, I recognize the grace when I see it.

So where do we start?

Human trafficking goes deeper than a criminal network. It is more than someone trying to get a dollar. If we want to stop it, we have to dig it up at the roots.

It starts with culture. If a culture devalues a set of people, then it is at risk.

It starts with poverty. When you have no money, no security, no assurance of how you will make ends meet, sometimes sacrificing one child to save everyone else seems like a positive option.

It starts with the Johns. If the hearts of the consumers were to change, there would be no need for the human product.

It starts with pimps (both men and women) and business owners. If greed could be cut-off in the hearts of people, where their income trumps a human life, trafficking would cease to exist.

It starts with us. We need to be wise consumers. Do we pour our money into businesses that exploit people?

I think it gets down to one thing in each of us. Do we value others? Do they matter more than we matter to ourselves? Are we willing to be uncomfortable in order to see trafficking end? This is where we start.

Staring into those bright brown eyes, I caught myself from getting overwhelmed at the task of seeing sex-trafficking end. I stepped back and chose to revel in the healing. Her horrific injustice does not define her, but rather she walks free as an innocent six-year-old.

I choose not to forget. I know there are some like her who will never find freedom. Who will die from infection of HIV or be murdered or succumb to drug or alcohol overdose.  

I will take the uncomfortable truth; the retching in my gut in a moment of realization. I will fight for them through prayer, through advocating, and through helping to the best of my ability (my strength being gleaned from God.)

More than anything, I will love. I will love them. I will love their sellers, their buyers, their users.

Where will you start? 

1 comment:

Emma Williamson said...
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