When I was doing research for the Angel Eyes trilogy, I read so many stories about human trafficking. Accounts of children being locked up, sold, abused. I read their own testimonials and I read the versions reporters put on front pages.
The story that stayed with me the longest was about a girl, locked in a basement, with only a roll of toilet paper for comfort. When they found her, she was holding it to her chest as my own kids do their stuffed animals. Her story was only one of many.
As I assimilated the horror, one truth made itself clear: this issue was way bigger than I had ever considered.
Rich people take part. Poor people. People of all different races and backgrounds. There are politics involved. Money changes hands in ways I’d never thought possible. Some of it happens out in the open. Some of it we see. But a lot of it is hidden from our eyes. Because these things happen in dark places? Sometimes. But mostly I think, because we haven’t tried hard enough to see it.
Today, you’ll see people wearing red Xs on their hands. It’s part of the END IT movement. Now, I don’t know who started this campaign. I don’t know who funded it, but from what I can tell it’s all about spreading the word and choosing to look. To look at the slavery, not only around the world, but in our own communities.
I live in the greater Sacramento area and statistics will tell you that as of last year, our city is one of the top five cities in the US suffering from human trafficking. My city. Where my kids go to school. Where I worship. Where I shop and play. It’s a staggering thing to consider. So, most of the time, I don’t. Because it’s too real to process. Too big to wrap my arms around and that makes me feel helpless.
But I think that’s what today’s about. February 27th. Shine a Light on Slavery Day. Attempting to be a generation that strives to END IT.
So, I’m in. Here’s my red X and my fist, and while half the time I don’t know where to throw this thing, I’m committing to fight slavery when and where I see it.
There are SO MANY doing amazing work in this area. I think it’s important to shine a light on them today too.
Recently, I watched The Pink Room documentary. A friend of mine was involved in the production of it and it’s a heartrending, eye-opening film that highlights trafficking in Cambodia. Watch it. Let yourself be moved.
Chab Dai is an organization here in Sacramento that works locally and abroad. That’s HUGE! Locally and abroad.
The Koinonia Group Home program is also local and works with at risk youth.
The Thrive Rescue Home is another outreach worth supporting. They have a home for rescued girls in Pattaya, Thailand and they’re opening another in India this year.
There are many, many others and these front line workers could use your support, be it your hands and feet, your pocketbook, or your prayers. We can all make a difference. It’s important to believe that.
When I set out to write the Angel Eyes trilogy, I wasn’t looking to convey trafficking in it’s rawest form. I was hoping to spread the truth that none of us are alone. Not you. Not me. Not the girl trapped in a basement hugging a toilet paper roll. And I think a red X on your hand today might serve a similar purpose.
It reminds us that we’re not alone. We’ve never been alone.
We fight together.