- Tabitha Caplinger
A little over two years ago I had the chance to go to India and spend time with children who were born out of the brothels. We also walked streets where countless men, women and children would approach us begging. It is an indescribably difficult thing to look into the eyes of a very young child and not give them something, to say no to buying whatever small trinket they might have been selling...but you say no. Why? Because those small children aren't who you are giving the money to. Those women holding tiny babies on the street corners are not who you are giving money to. They are employees, they are, in essence, slaves who's life is not their own but belongs to their pimp or master.
But let me back up to two or three years before this trip. I was sitting in a women's retreat listening to our speaker, Susanne Cox, talk of her time as a missionary associate in India. She spoke of little girls that her home was rescuing from brothels. She spoke of little girls, as young as nine years old (my oldest daughter's age) who were kidnapped or even sold by their parents. She told of torture dealt to these innocent souls in back alley's on dirty mattresses until they were broken. She talked of children who had lost their innocence and their smile. She talked of young women, teenagers who were growing too old for this insidious line of work. She talked of $200 purchasing a 16 year old girl.
Can you even imagine that? Can you imagine one human being purchasing another human being for any sum much less that little? I mean actually buying someone as though they are a designer handbag. This happens. This happens everyday all over the world and I mean ALL over the world. Even in the comfortable first world country you call home there are men, women and children taken from their homes, taken off the streets and forced into a life they did not choose. Some were so desperate they made a choice that they are now chained to by someone stronger and scarier.
I listened to that woman speak of those children and my heart broke. I went home and wondered what I could do. A month or so later I sat in a living room with my small group, all young women the same ages as those across the world I had learned of. We talked about purity and then I told them of these girls. I watched a room full of amazing, compassionate young women break into tears at the discovery that while they learned of purity as a choice they could make there were little girls who had that choice stolen from them. My girls decided they could do something. They could raise $200 to purchase, not a 16 year old girl, but her freedom.
They served coffee and baked goods for tips one Sunday. They shared why they were doing it and for whom. Sunday ended and they didn't raise enough to purchase one girl's freedom but 10 girls'. They heard something and they did something. What can you do?
* Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day. People draw a red "X" on their hand to raise awareness. Awareness matters. People can't change what they don't acknowledge. We can't fix an issue we don't know we have. Draw that red "X" and post that photo and let the world know that you know. Make sure the people in your circles know.
* There are so many organizations around the world working to bring rescue and rehabilitation to those who have suffered from human trafficking. They also work with law enforcement to apprehend criminals and bring them to justice. Give to these organizations. A few I support are The A21 Campaign and Project Rescue. (Shirt purchases from my online store are all to raise funds for these.) The money my girls raised that one Sunday went to Project Rescue as well as the home I had learned of Legacy of Purpose. (Please note: their $200 goal was symbolic, there was no way our money could go directly toward one girl, but rather to organizations who could use it to help bring more girls to freedom.)
* Pay attention. Trafficking is happening where you are. Open your eyes. Look and see and report. This video from A21 will help you visualize what I mean.
I went to India a couple of years ago. I looked into the faces of little children, dirty and hungry and begging. I also looked into the eyes of little children who had been rescued. Someone had seen them and done something and they were full of joy and life. They were safe and they had a hope for a future different from their parents, a future outside of slavery. When I hear statistics, nameless and faceless numbers I can feel overwhelmed or even numb to the problem. Then I remember these faces and their names and I remember we can all do something, even a small thing like a red "X" can make a difference.
So the question is no longer what can I do but
what will I do?