HUMAN TRAFFICKING HURTS.
FTG tries to shine a light, to focus on hope and restoration. But in order to fully understand the power of redemption and true freedom, we must look into the darkness. We must hurt before we can fully celebrate.
"Human Trafficking". Maybe you've heard it so many times now that you just graze over it like any word you hear in any given day. Maybe it makes you uncomfortable so you pass it by intentionally. Maybe you haven't fully grasped the magnitude of it.
Regardless of where you place yourself on the above spectrum, we invite you to join in this conversation for a few minutes today.
"Human trafficking" means "human exploitation". It means "human slavery". It means that someone exerting power and control over a vulnerable person. It means a girl or boy or man or woman is forced to do the unthinkable. It means Not Free.
Human trafficking and exploitation is a world-wide crisis that's stealing lives of millions of individuals just like you and me.
Let's just sit with it a moment....
Any maybe another moment?
We know it hurts.
We know it's absurdly uncomfortable and it's far too easy for many of us to just say, "I'd rather not think about it too much", and then keep scrolling.
But for millions around the world, that's not an option. They don't get the choice to not think about it. They're living it - day in, and day out, and what feels like (and sometimes actually IS) a lifetime.
Brene Brown, an insightful research professor and author talks about the difference of sympathy and empathy and the extreme value and life-changing impact that EMPATHY can make. She says;
"Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection..."
For the survivors we know and know about, disconnection is a huge barrier to feeling a sense of belonging, safety, and love. And disconnection is what keeps "their problem" over there and far enough away from encroaching on our comfort zones. One could even argue that disconnection continues to fuel human trafficking. What if this were true? That would mean our lack of empathy actually keeps human trafficking alive and well. That's a scary thought.
"Empathy is feeling with people...
It is a choice. And it's a vulnerable choice."
And, oh, how we like to avoid vulnerability! Brene Brown has an entire book on vulnerability and how it actually might be the key to living a more 'wholehearted' life. So let's step into this a little further together. If you're reading this, you're most likely someone who does care. You're most likely someone who wants to see the plight of the vulnerable change. (Thank you). And now, let's move from sympathy to empathy.
We are grieved that we live in a world where we have to look into the face of such a horrible reality. We are sad that so many people don't get a choice to live a life of freedom and hope. Sometimes it's good to get sad. Then angry. Then outraged. And we at Free The Girls think that human trafficking is the right thing to be outraged about. But we can't just stay at outraged. We need to use that outrage to compel us towards action.
You've heard the term "millions" when it comes to human trafficking. For many of us, that does something to our brains. We can't compute that. We don't know if you reading this know a survivor (or are one yourself), but once you know an individual's true story, it becomes more real. Once you have a face and a name - a beloved human- connected to a story of trafficking, it becomes nearly impossible to turn a blind eye. In the last month alone, we've received a number of messages from survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Brave women who've shared their horrific stories with us and who are now free- working toward living healed and whole lives.
This gives us hope.
THERE IS HOPE.
The stories of resilience, courage, and strength give us hope. The stories of survivors surviving and thriving despite their difficult history. We've met these women and have seen that JOY can be restored. It's not easy, but it's real. One woman in Uganda once told us that she wanted the world to know "Human trafficking is real. But so is love." What a powerful reminder of why we do what we do. It's a reminder of the challenging (and sometimes painful) call to enter in with empathy. And it's a reminder to each of us to keep confronting human trafficking - no matter how much it hurts.
WE CAN CHANGE IT.
By becoming aware, by entering in, by bringing our empathy and compassion to this reality, we can make change. We've seen it with our own eyes. We've heard it from the mouths of survivors. This is why we keep going. The joy and freedom that survivors can experience is redemptive and beautiful. As one woman in our program says;
"Before I didn't have hope... and now I have that. I am so thankful."
When you choose to enter in with awareness and empathy, you can help bring that incredible anchor of hope! We thank you for deciding to use your life to impact the lives of others. We are so thankful to be doing this alongside of you.
-Free The Girls