The response to this post, about human trafficking, was overwhelming. Your eyes and hearts were opened to something so terrible - so spirit-crushing - so unbelievable. You were outraged over monsters preying on kids before they even leave the orphanage. Disgusted that there are over 200,000 slaves on American soil.
Slavery is real, and it's happening today. In our neighborhoods, in our schools, and - dare I say - in our churches.
Because of the huge response, I thought it appropriate to do a follow-up post.
I mentioned in my last post that America is the second-highest destination country in the world for trafficked women. It's real. It's everywhere. Even here.
Here are a few clues to look for:
Evidence of being controlled
Evidence of inability to move or leave their job
Bruises or other signs of physical abuse
Inability to speak for themselves
Has few or no personal possessions
If you notice some of these clues, and are beginning to suspect that someone is being held or forced to work against their will, here are some questions you should ask:
Can you leave your work/job situation if you want?
Can you come and go as you please?
Are you being paid?
Has anyone threatened your family?
Have you been physically harmed in any way?
What are your living conditions like?
Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
If you suspect someone is being trafficked - report it to The National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888. They receive an average of 1000 calls per MONTH, and all calls and tips to this number receive immediate follow-up.
Although much of my previous post referred to the sex slave industry, there are MANY other forms of slavery that some of us have likely come into contact with directly - maybe without even knowing. View an eye-opening list of typical calls that the hotline receives here. Some of them may really surprise you.
To view in-depth local information and resources in YOUR state, view this interactive map.
We've talked about what you can do to help those that have ALREADY been trafficked. But what can we do to stop it before it happens?
In my last post, I described the bleak situation when a child ages out of an orphanage at 16. There are some GREAT ministries out there that reach into the orphanages and prepare kids for aging out. They teach them life skills - and some even give them a place to stay after aging out. You can do the research for yourself to find these ministries all over the world - there are many.
My favorite, and the closest to my heart, is True Hope Ukraine. True Hope not only works with hospitals and orphanages, but also has a presence in several dormitories for orphans that have aged out.
True Hope also runs two transitional homes - one for boys, one for girls - with a 'house mom' or 'house dad'. These orphans receive care in a family-like setting as they learn life skills like caring for a home, cooking, budgeting, and finding a job. Most importantly, they are given a safe place to find emotional healing through the acceptance and love of God, their true Father. True Hope is planning to open an additional home for unwed mothers soon.
This ministry is the real deal. If you're looking for a ministry that will take your donation, and use every last penny for God's Kingdom - THIS is it. We have personally met Max and spent time with him both in Ukraine and the states.
I know, not everyone can adopt. But - I've said it many times before - EVERYONE can do something. Share - Advocate - Donate - Pray.
Reece's Rainbow has several kids listed who are close to aging out of their orphanage. Think it's scary to adopt an older child? Well, it is. But this story might break your heart just a little bit and make you think twice about saying 'No way! Not me!'.
Meet Larisa - at fourteen years old, she is close to aging out.
Her status of 'orphan' will follow her the rest of her life. This girl deserves the love of a family.
This is Vlad - his profile says he's a 'super boy - optimistic - polite - and obedient'.
Could you welcome him into your family? Could you donate to their grants, to make them a bit more noticeable? Could you share their profile on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog? Could you pray that someone would step up and welcome these kids into their family?
Those are just TWO children out of hundreds of thousands that will be aging out of the system during the next 2 years. Don't be fooled into believing that you can't make a difference. You absolutely can.
Shining light on a dark problem will always make a difference. The more we know, the better we can do.
The human trafficking crisis is huge, but the only way we can make a difference is by stepping out from where we are, and doing what we can. For more ideas on specific ways to make a difference, see my previous post here.
One Thing I Know For Sure:"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know." - William Wilberforce (Abolitionist, 1759-1833)