Do what you can do – Bishop of Rwanda
The trip to Rwanda capped the completion of my masters program for pastoral counseling. One of the key words in counseling is reflect. We are an "on the go" society and taking time to just be still and reflect is rare. If we would only realize it is during reflection that we are able to see trends and patterns that will help inform our future actions and decisions we would all take time to do more reflection.
While I was answering the interview questions for World Help, I began to reflect on all that has occurred since I went to Rwanda in November 2011. Buying the 100 bags to start a scholarship fund and encouraging people to give bikes in honor of family members for Christmas was what I believed was the beginning and end of my doing what I could do. Reflecting caused me to see it was the beginning of my journey to join the movement to end human trafficking.
Two years after my trip I opened Shoppe 561- they underlying theme for the shoppe is HOPE and our mission is to shine a light on modern day slavery. Add to the time line 2 ½ years after the trip, through the generosity of the Shoppe’s customers, we have given Hope House Florida (Safe House for minor girls rescued from human trafficking) $1333 in our first six months of business.
Providing education about Human Trafficking is one of the ways we shine a light on modern day slavery. January was Human Trafficking awareness month, and we were able to educate customers with facts nationally and regionally. Florida is the #3 state and so many had no idea, but now they are aware. Last Friday night we had a mom from West Palm Beach share how her daughter was trafficked at the age of 16. Her story was one of a “do what you can do”. If your dog runs away, you go look for it so why would you not do the same for your child? So she went looking for her child.
Her daughter was an average high school student who lived in West Palm Beach. She was pretty, had friends and did okay in school. She started smoking marijuana. The suppliers were ultimately her traffickers who had laced it with cocaine, which was like smoking crack; she was addicted. She ultimately ran away from home and so it began.
This mom searched the streets and went to parts of town not safe for women alone late at night. She would stay out until dawn, rollerblading through the streets, going to the various hotels to see if she could find her daughter.
She was able to find her after 40 days and bring her home for a period of time. Her daughter, now an adult has gone back with her trafficker. We believe she is trying to leave again as she has been in contact with family but has not been successful as of yet.
What many of us do not understand is what the traffickers do to the girls’ minds, how they manipulate them and in many cases how they use drugs to keep them motivated. Many of these girls are addicted to drugs and will do what they have to keep the supply coming. The mom shared the traffickers would wake up her daughter and the other girls in the morning and give them as much and as many drugs as they wanted. The drugs would start to wear off and no surprise it would be time to go work the streets; they were told that was what they had to do to earn their drugs.
Her mom shares she is fighting for her soul so she will not give up. She wants her daughter to know she is loved and she is fighting for her.
Evil pervades trafficking and unfortunately many different entities are involved in keeping this cycle going. If we are going to bring this to an end it is going to require all of us to do what we can do.
So what is your to do? You might not even now what it is today, but it will come to you as we all have a role to play. It could be as simple as reading a book or an article on trafficking, writing a letter to our representatives on the foster care bill in the photo, or just telling someone else that modern day slavery exists. Many leaders of the top agencies working to end human trafficking in our life time say the best thing you can do is be a mentor.
Looking back 2 ½ years, a simple “do what you can do” paved the way for Shoppe 561 and the opportunity to shine a light on modern day slavery.