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The sex trafficking epidemic: how you can help

Guess what: the Safe House bedroom is stick-a-fork-in-it DONE. I’ll have the full reveal for you in the next post.

GROANNNNNN. I KNOW. That’s so cruel!

Okay fine. Just one tiny sneak peek. You know I can’t resist it when you make that face.
Safe_House_bedroom_sneak_peek
We made this crazy chandelier too! I can’t wait for you to see! (Sorry.)

If you’ve been following along, we’ve been making over a bedroom in a Safe House where victims of sex trafficking will go, straight from the streets, immediately after they’re rescued. (See the project unfold here.)

While I was doing this project, I met a friend who is a photographer, who has gone to the streets in the U.S. and around the world where the trafficking is taking place, and photographed what she’s found. She’s using her photography to bring awareness and change laws, and change lives.
Tanya martineau photography for unseen ministries

Photographed by Tanya Martineau on assignment for Unseen Ministries. For Unearthed Seoul

These photos are the real thing. These women are real victims. This is happening in your city.

Tanya told me a devastating story I can’t shake and I don’t want to confront. She has gone to Hindu temples where little girls are dedicated as temple prostitutes. People there try to appease a goddess called Yellamma by dedicating their daughters to a lifetime of service as temple prostitutes. “A wealthy man can pay extra for the right to deflower her, and afterward she becomes public property, duty-bound to satisfy the lust of any man who pays.”

Tanya told me this was happening – that she has seen it with her own eyes – and then when she sent me the photos of the girls… As young as five years old…
Trafficking (10 of 19)
I couldn’t understand it. I made her tell me again. Not the girls in the picture, right Tanya? That didn’t really happen to these girls?
Trafficking (9 of 19)
Tell me it’s not really happening, not that way.

It’s hard to know. It’s hard to grapple with. You want to shut your brain off to it, to go back to the safety of your world and un-know what you’ve learned.

But now you know, and there are things you can do to help.

1. First, learn and understand.

From Tanya’s words (read more on her blog here):

The term “justice” has become a trendy topic. Justice is a restoration of the broken; not an end goal but a response to choose love.

There is no simple solution to poverty or injustice. It’s messy. It’s complex. It’s multifaceted. I don’t have the answers, yet I know the first step in bringing lasting solutions is by understanding the problem.

I experienced life in the slums in the Philippines for 4 days with one of my trafficked girls that was reunited with her family. It was challenging. I laughed. I cried. I empathized. I left empowered; not to jump into solutions but to dive into greater understanding to one day bring holistic freedom. Most of all, I left honored to get a brief glimpse into the lives of their joyous community.

I wonder if more justice and love would be spread if we focused more of our attention on understanding than quick solutions?

Phew. First, take responsibility to know, even when it hurts to know and you’d rather go back.
Trafficking (18 of 19)

Photographed by Tanya Martineau on assignment for Unseen Ministries. For Sarah’s Home

2. Use YOUR gifts

What is your gift? Your talent?

Are you an epic couponer? Collect items for a local safe house, or donate them to a trafficking ministry near you.

Are you a teacher? Educate your students. Spread the word and encourage them to get involved.

Are you a paper-pusher at a desk job? Give your co-workers resources on how to spot trafficking in airports and hotels.

Are you a stay-at-home-mom? Invite some friends to do a clothing swap to raise money for a local ministry. Spread the word through your church and get your friends involved.

Are you a social media maven? Invite your friends to action through Facebook or twitter.

Are you a grammar geek? Donate your time to a local ministry to help victims write resumes to start a new life.

Decorate a room. Design a website. Take photos. Bake cookies. Spread the word. Find your gifts and use them. Reach out to your local trafficking ministry and ask them what they need.
Trafficking (14 of 19)

Photographed by Tanya Martineau on assignment for Unseen Ministries. For Sarah’s Home

3. Donate things

If you’re local to Atlanta: Out of Darkness, the ministry I partnered with for this project, can use your donations! They create laundry basket gift-baskets for each girl, with all the necessities a woman might need right off the streets. Click here to view their needs list, then get in touch with Out of Darkness to make your donation.
Trafficking (19 of 19)

Photographed by Tanya Martineau on assignment for Unseen Ministries. For Sarah’s Home

4. Give
Guys, I have this crazy idea. What if every single person reading this post gave $10 to a ministry like Out of Darkness?

I’m not asking for a huge amount: just $10. Can you do that? You can make a check out to “Atlanta Dream Center, Inc.” with “Out of Darkness” written in the memo line, and mail it to Out of Darkness, P.O. Box 54537, Atlanta, GA 30308 — or donate online here.

It doesn’t have to be Out of Darkness – find your local ministry and donate there. Just ten measly dollars.

5. Pray
…And keep praying. For the victims, for the perpetrators, for the culture that doesn’t see the worth of people, that objectifies and is blind to value of human life. For change, for action, for freedom. Put this on your prayer list and don’t take it off.

* * *

Trafficking (12 of 19)

Photographed by Tanya Martineau on assignment for Unseen Ministries. For Grace Care

It hurts to know – I get it. I feel that too. Don’t go back; don’t forget. Find your gifts and use them.



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Comments

  1. cassie says:

    well said, kelly.

  2. Wow, yes well said! I have chills and am shocked.

  3. Ben says:

    Ever since I heard this (http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/11/05/361433850/why-your-brain-wants-to-help-one-child-in-need-but-not-millions) on NPR I’ve been really convicted of inaction.
    So from now on my thought is going to be “I can’t help everyone. I can help someone.”

  4. Wow. So, well said Kelly. So glad you can share your talents to do some good :)

  5. Elizabeth rogers says:

    Nicely put and thank you for talking about this horrid topic.

    I’ve made my donation. Took all of 30 seconds via their website.

  6. Kelly McK says:

    Donated! And praying. Thank you, Kelly, for all of the work you have done for this organization and the awareness you have brought to this heart-wrenching tragedy that is too prevalent in today’s world. God Bless!!

  7. Cathy says:

    Done!! Thanks for the awareness and motivation to help.

  8. Sunny says:

    Thanks so much for using your how-to-make-things-pretty blog to talk about ugly things that need to be said (and can be made beautiful!) And thanks for the opportunity to give!

  9. Lisa E says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was the reminder and kick in the pants that I needed. You see, I live 10 minutes from Toledo, OH, which has one of the highest if not the highest, rates of sex trafficking. Going on-line to do a search for a local ministry and see what I can do. Thanx again.

  10. This is such a great post, Kelly! You suggested ways to help that I hadn’t even ever though of!

  11. Jennifer says:

    Last year, Allume truly opened my eyes to that whole nasty business. We support The Exodus Road now; couldn’t just sit back and relax after learning what’s going on! An incredibly important cause to get involved in!

  12. Branalyn says:

    So last week, I was at a conference in Dallas. The annual national convention Put on by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It’s not by any means a Christian organization but one of the vendors was called Rahab’s Rope. (http://www.rahabsrope.com/)
    They support women and children in India who have been trafficked. A colleague bought a braclet that was made from broken bangles “because God can take broken thins and make something new, while, and beautiful.” I nearly fried right there! I bought a necklace, earrings, and a journal for my husband. You can host parties (like Mary Kay or 31 I assume) and raise money for their organization. I haven’t been to the website much yet, but it looks like they have plenty of ways you can help, as well as the places and things mentioned in your post!

  13. So true. Thank you for bringing attention to this very important cause.

  14. Gretchen says:

    Wow. Those are some seriously powerful photos!

  15. Marlo says:

    I was able to make a donation through the Out of Darkness Amazon Wishlist – they have items you can order and send directly to them for the women – very handy if you have an Amazon Prime account! Their wishlist has feminine hygiene products, towels, pjs, craft supplies, bibles, etc.

    • Kelly says:

      Oh COOL! I didn’t even know you could do that! Thanks so much!

      • Cindy says:

        Check out daysforgirls.org, a great sister organization to support these efforts. They can help to provide healthy and beautiful washable reuseable feminine hygiene kits and invaluable women’s health education. Check the website for more nformation and a list of chapters.

  16. Wow, thank you for sharing their needs list – they listed jewelry supplies. I actually have a lot of beads and findings I can send their way! Waiting to hear back from them.

  17. Lisa E says:

    Hello! I just received Family Christian’s sale flyer in the mail. In it is an advertisement showing that from Nov 22-30 they will be giving all of their earning to help prevent human trafficking. Their goal is to raise $150k to start rescue efforts in the Dominican Republic. You can visit their website: http://www.FamilyChristian.com/challenge .

  18. I know it can seem like what you are doing can be considered is minimal when you think about what is going on in our country and beyond, but this is what we need. This is amazing.

  19. Pippa says:

    This is heartbreaking to hear these stories! My sister did a sex-trafficking documentary here in Houston, she worked on it several years so I heard all the back-stories. The horrible part is that the police really can’t do much to stop it.
    Here is the trailer for the documentary:
    http://cantineradocumentary.net/

    • Emily says:

      I had an internship in a county jail and was told that the people involved in trafficking, when caught are not looked upon as sex offenders, rather they have the status of an “international pimp” which is “cool”. I’m sure this is not the case in all jails/prisons, but hearing that information opened my eyes to a tougher battle:changing the way men (and women) who offend view their participation in this epidemic.

  20. trish says:

    Very heavy on my heart currently are the 3500 women and girls that ISIS has claimed as soils of war. They are captured and beat and auctioned off to these barbaric fights for sex slaves. There is actually a pamphlet on how soon pre puberty children can be raped. This is in Iraq but I am sure the same is in Syria. Does anyone know of anyway these women and children can be helped and freed? Are there groups already involved that I can donate to, or is this considered a hostage situation?
    Thanks for any info.

  21. Tiffany says:

    What a great post. I just came back from Athens, Greece, where I went to study this unimaginable brokenness as my internship for my degree program. Since returning, it becomes ever clear that I need to do something. I’m just not sure what that something exactly is. This post is just what I needed to read.

  22. Alex Grady says:

    Oh god this is so cruel… having such young girls to be temple prostitutes.. The information you shared can help a lot more people in the future

  23. Lavues says:

    This is really cruel, to be reading this right now, I hope I can help more children and youngsters that are victims to this.

  24. Lavues says:

    Doing this to young people and children is really cruel, I hope that I can do anything that would decrease the number of victims.

  25. Thanks for this blog post — remarkable and stimulating. I’ve shared it on LinkedIn.
    Best,
    Morghan

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  2. […] Guess what: the Safe House bedroom is stick-a-fork-in-it DONE. I’ll have the full reveal for you in the next post. GROANNNNNN. I KNOW. That’s so cruel! Okay fine. Just one tiny sneak peek. You know I can’t resist it when you make that face. We made this crazy chandelier too! I can’t wait for you […]The post The sex trafficking epidemic: how you can help appeared first on * View Along the Way *.  […]

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