Human Trafficking-Exploring a New Volunteer Project

In our hectic lives, we all face times where we may become absorbed in our own problems, goals, wants or needs. We forget to think of the many around us who need our support. Giving back is essential; whether our act of service be for a friend or family member in need, a troubled youth needing guidance, elderly lacking support or homeless needing nourishment. At some point in all of our lives we will need someone to listen, help and love us. There will be times in life when we will need to be the stronger person providing support for others. Being someone who has experienced my own struggles in life, I have come to find gratitude and grace in helping others in need.  As you may gather, this post has nothing to do with skin care or health but I had to share my experience with you. Recently, I participated in a volunteer project to assist in rehabilitating human-traffic/sex-trade abuse victims.

Training and volunteering with trauma victims, specifically relating to victims of human trafficking is a real eye-opener on many levels. For instance, I have come to realize how prevalent human trafficking is around the world, and here in the United States. Victims stood up and spoke during our training and one girl described cunning ways traffickers lure in children and teens. It's actually quite scary to hear some of the tactics that are used to take advantage or force unknowing youths into this horrific form of abuse. If you have children or teens, the best advice is to be aware of their friends/boyfriends and where they are hanging out. Traffickers are using or paying kids in the schools to gain the trust of young girls with the intention of eventually abducting or leading them into sex-trade or engaging the victims in gang rapes. It is so important to be aware of what children are doing on the internet too, this is another avenue traffickers are using to gain access to children and teens. As parents, teachers, mentors or caregivers we all need to be more aware. Human trafficking is going on all around us and it's a growing industry; it has increased dramatically just in the past decade; from 10 million dollars a year to what is now a 32 billion dollar a year industry.

Before the volunteer training, I didn't think this kind of thing was happening in my own backyard, but California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Atlanta are among highest-rated states for human trafficking and sex trade. In the United States alone, it is estimated that nearly 250,000 individuals are at risk of being forced or abducted into the trafficking trade each year. The leader of the training yesterday, spoke about a girl who was abducted in California, then transferred to an Atlanta hub to be held for transport. She was rescued but upon investigation they found that she was in the process of being transferred and sold to an Asian country. Apparently some countries (mostly Middle-Eastern, Asian or Latin descent) will pay top dollar (hundreds of thousands of dollars) for young, blonde-haired, blue-eyed America girls.

So, what can we all do to help?

  • If you have children, be aware of what they are doing and where they are going to be at all times. Monitor their internet and cell phone usage. Find out who they are friends with, get to know their friends.
  • Volunteer your time or become a mentor for at-risk youth or teens. Giving back and paying it forward with time (our most precious commodity) is a priceless act of service. 
  • If you are a person who pays for sex, please STOP! You may be contributing to the problem, even if the girls/women seem consenting and of age, or they are being picked up on the streets, in casinos, at the mall, in massage parlors, at the club, while traveling abroad or domestic. One who contributes to this type of transaction must remember very few mentally/emotionally healthy woman would partake in such an agreement of degradation. Most often it's not a choice to sell their body. Some women are even forced to sell themselves. Most of these women have quotas and if they don't meet their quotas they are raped, beaten or sodomized; the girl who spoke during training attested to this fact.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Abductions are happening more often and sometimes in broad daylight. 
I have a feeling this will be a challenging, yet rewarding volunteer project.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to fight back tears when hearing some of the girls' stories about abuse and trauma. I am looking forward to learning more about this project and being of service in a positive way. 


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