When I started reading about human trafficking, specifically the child sex trade, I was astounded. I knew it existed because of the time I spent in Thailand as a teenager, but I thought it was small scale stuff. Come to find out, there are 27 million people enslaved in the world today, more than there were at the height of the African slave trade, and 80% of them are women and children. Little girls who are kept as prostitutes account for part of this number and, while the whole thing is horrific, this portion of modern day slavery is the part that disturbs me the most.
When I watched undercover footage of little girls in Cambodia being forced to offer oral sex as “yum yum,” I was physically ill. There are not strong enough words in the English language for my repulsion. It’s vile and repugnant, and I can’t imagine how any man would use a child in that way. The more I read, “yum yum” was just the beginning. There are some sick individuals in this world who invent ways of torturing women and children that make my stomach turn. Since I was aware of it, I was now accountable for that knowledge and I knew I had to do something. But what?
I decided to do a movie screening in my home of a short film called “Traffik” made by the Somaly Mam Foundation. I invited some ladies from my church and we decided we wanted to try and do something together. Unfortunately, the interest sort of fizzled out and nothing really came of that first meeting. I wasn’t going to give up that easily though, so I decided to host another screening and invite my girlfriends. This time I called it “Cocktails for a Cause,” served wine and showed a 45 minute documentary about the work of AIM, a ministry that works to end child sex trafficking in Cambodia. I charged $10 to get in and gave all the money to AIM. I had about 10 women at that screening.
I also decided that my New Year’s Resolution would be to raise $1000 for AIM. One thousand bucks might not be a huge amount, but I was working full time with a two year old, a baby, a husband and a horse and I thought $1000 was a realistic number for someone like me. So why did I pick AIM? Well, I had started giving monthly donations to Rapha House and Love146, two anti-trafficking organizations that work in Southeast Asia. Since I wasn’t giving monthly to AIM, I decided to do the New Year’s Resolution Fundraiser to benefit them.
I sent out an email telling about AIM’s work and my desire to raise $1000 for them. I sent it to everyone I knew- friends, family, old college friends, facebook friends, church friends, the guy who bagged my groceries last week. I was amazed by the response. In a week I raised about $800. People forwarded the email to more people and it didn’t take very long at all to hit my goal of one thousand greenbacks to fight slavery.
As a result of that email and my desire to do something about slavery, I ended up partnering with AIM as an Advocate. They created volunteer positions for people like me who work and have non-ministerial, non-charitable regular jobs but want to join the fight in some way. Being an Advocate for AIM is a dream come true for me. It allows me to turn my rage at injustice into action. I get to attend events on behalf of AIM and host awareness nights and fundraisers. This month I’ll be attending a conference on child sexual abuse and setting up a booth about AIM to educate the attendees about child sex tourism.
If you have a desire to do something about social justice, whether it’s poverty, trafficking, clean water or whatever, you have to start somewhere. I see this quote on Pinterest all the time: “Start where you are. Use what you have.” It’s so true. All of us have a circle of influence. All of us can do something, even if it’s small. All the small things add up to big things. So let’s join the fight together and join our small things into BIG THINGS!