Tuesday, January 5, 2016

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Changing the Cultural Landscape

Getting back to work on this anti-trafficking blog after spending a couple of months on turf removal project hasn't been easy. But that "groundbreaking" project  taught me a few lessons which are motivating me to write yet another post.

It would have been easier not to. My abolitionist efforts seem minuscule compared to the overwhelming nature of the problems. Roots of poverty, abandoned kids, runaways, gangs, pornography, the breakdown of the family, and human rights are far worse than those dug out of my yard. Ensnarled in dirt, they ran deep below the surface and were almost impossible to remove. But persistence mattered, and now they are gone.

Seeing the shovel in my hand and sweat on my face, a young man stopped to talk one day. Noticing that the task facing me was overwhelming, he said, "you need help." It wasn't an offer, just an observation. And, he was right.

It was the hardest physical labor I've ever done. But the days my sister, Janet, came made everything seem easier. And we accomplished at least twice as much as I could alone. Teamwork matters. With enough people involved, the work is easier, and the project reflects the combined efforts of those with different skills. My project certainly wouldn't have been successful without help. It took a man strong and skilled enough to use a sod cutter and rototiller. It took a designer who helped talk me through my plan. Others at Sunshine Growers (an awesome wholesale nursery) guided me to the right plants.

On a far grander scale, it takes a multitude of skills and people to change our cultural landscape. Children aren't so easily tantalized by traffickers when their needs for family and belonging are already being met. Teens with a strong work ethic and moral values are far more likely to refuse "easy money" through sex with strangers. Young adults with a vibrant support system aren't nearly as likely to be enticed by survival sex or a "boyfriend" who claims he'll put food on the table or a roof over their heads. And, there are ways to be involved in all these types of efforts.

So that's why I'm starting to write again--with the hope that others will get involved in changing our cultural landscape. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month and there are many opportunities to make a difference. A good way to find out about various options is to join the Facebook group Stop Slavery Together, Not only do posts suggest upcoming events and simple things you can do to make a difference, they also offer articles that will extend your awareness of what's happening in our own communities and around the world. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more you can make choices that inhibit the slave trade. There's no better way to start off the new year.

Two events I'm involved with are especially easy to participate in. One is the 5th Annual National Conference Call Prayer Summit on January 9th--this coming Saturday. You don't even have to talk but can agree silently in prayer for the end of human trafficking. 

The other is the L.A. Freedom Walk January 16th. It's a great way to connect with others who are fighting this travesty and raise awareness. (Details are on the links provided.)

What will you choose to do? It can be as simple as reading some articles to become more aware. Maybe what you learn will make a major difference in a loved one's life. Or maybe you'll decide to do more. Whatever this post cultivates in your life, I'd love to know. That's why I write.

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