Trafficking Close to Home
I used to think that injustices like human trafficking happened only in places that were far away like in Cambodia and Thailand. As I grew in my knowledge of such injustices as well as my passion to help end it I began to realize that it was a growing problem in America. I didn’t understand the magnitude of this problem until I met a woman named Sophia*.
Sophia is a trafficked survivor who grew up in Minnesota but was trafficked all over the states. As I sat down with her to listen to her story she mentioned the various places where she had been trafficked which included Illinois (where I am from). Naturally, I was curious because I’m from the area so I asked her where she was trafficked in Illinois and she mentioned areas I was familiar with which was shocking enough but then she asked me where I was from. I told her about the surrounding areas in the suburbs where I grew up and without hesitation she said “Oh yeah! I was trafficked near the strip mall down the road from a Brown’s Chicken there”.
I was so dumbfounded. I told her about the high school I attended and the malls I grew up going to and she was trafficked alongside those areas as well. I was at a loss of words because the very same places where I grew up, she was trafficked. The strip mall was about 5 minutes walking distance from me. The most shocking thing of all was that around the time she was trafficked my home town was nominated one of the best places to raise a child.
My initial reaction in hearing all of this was fear. As I thought about it more God has taught me that I need not to fear. Rather this is a story that God put in my life to show that trafficking isn’t an issue that is far removed from me. It is very real and he wants to use our knowledge and our voice to respond. I mourn the hardship that Sophia and many other people have to go through and yet this motivates me to continue to fight against the injustice that surrounds me. I am blessed that God is opening my eyes to see the hurt of those around me and I am blessed that I get to respond.
*Pseudonym used to protect the privacy of the people involved