I’ve lost that blogging feeling… (ooohh that blogging feeling) I’m working to get it back. In the meantime, I have a guest post! From Mr. Fair Trade Fashionist(o) – my husband, Joe! I can’t link you to anything of his because he is virtually silent (haha – pun not intended – but seriously, he has almost no virtual place to find him. except email…)
Anyway, he is doing a book review of “The Exodus Road” by Laura Parker. I attended a conference in October and had the pleasure of meeting Laura and hearing their story. It’s almost unbelievable how this “normal” family moved to SE Asia and went all “undercover agent.” She also had a fantastic breakout session addressing fear and how it keeps us from living our Story. (Maybe I found some blogging inspiration after all.)
I did get to take advantage of a special deal where I bought a book to review and they gave me a second copy for free, so I am offering that one as a giveaway here. Just leave a comment and I’ll do a random drawing in a couple days and will mail it to the winner. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my husband’s heart and are intrigued by the book! Without further adieu…
Many holidays mark our modern calendars. We are all very familiar with some of them: Christmas, New Year’s Day, Independence Day… Others are largely unknown or maybe considered trite or silly: Groundhog Day, International Left-Handers, Hillbilly Day, and even one called Nothing Day. But today has more of a sobering theme. January 11, since 2007, has been dedicated to Human Trafficking Awareness. In fact, this global justice issue has become so prominent in our nation that Barack Obama declared the entire month of January as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month” in 2012.
It seems these holidays, coupled with the efforts of various anti-trafficking individuals, organizations and lobbyist groups have been quite successful in recent years raising awareness and prompting governments at all levels across the globe to take action against what is arguably the most contemptible crime of our age.
One such organization, “The Exodus Road,” recently published a book by that name detailing an ordinary couple’s unintentional but life-changing journey into the very heart of this dark reality. In the relatively short and fast-paced documentary, Laura Parker relates her side of the life-altering experience she and her husband Matt endured while serving as missionaries in Southeast Asia.
While working in Malaysia, Matt Parker, a former youth pastor, encountered a subcommittee of the NGO (Non-Government Organization) and came to realize how understaffed, unfunded, and unorganized the anti-trafficking efforts really were in that country. The more he learned, the more he was determined to do something to help. “What if it were Lilly?” he asked, referring to their own young daughter. That was probably the most heart-piercing statement in the whole book for me. As a father of two, I tried to imagine the lengths I would go to if my son or daughter were ever abducted into such a horrific nightmare.
Desperate to help rescue children from sexual slavery, Matt decided to assist the local Malaysian police force in surveillance. As they had no means to equip him, Matt managed to cobble together his own crude surveillance system – basically a hidden mini-camera he ordered from Amazon hot-glued to the inside of a computer bag. Then he hit the streets.
Knowing every night could be his last, Matt would step into some of the last places he (and his wife Laura) ever expected to go – brothels, strip clubs, and red-light districts – all the while gathering valuable intel such as names of children and their pimps. What he witnessed – young teenage girls (and boys) being cheaply “rented out” for rape to married businessmen, forced to strip, fondled, abused – must have seemed like a vision of hell itself. How can this kind of thing be happening every night to millions of children while the world sleeps on in blissful ignorance?
Fortunately, Matt’s efforts began to result in raids, prosecuted pimps, and freed children. And he also began to meet other undercover investigators (mostly former-military) that they began to partner with to share intel and resources and gain valuable expertise. After months of tears and sleepless nights, Matt and Laura had the realization that they could best serve in this mission in a different capacity – by starting a coalition to tackle this huge criminal industry in a concerted, collaborative manner. Exodus Road was born.
Slavery has certainly not been abolished, not even by a long shot. And unfortunately, the number of slaves today dwarfs the number slaves in America during the 1800’s Atlantic slave trade. The statistics are staggering: from 10-30 million in 161 countries, with over 20% in the sex industry being children (according to the International Labor Organization). Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business, the third largest-grossing crime today. Some children are forced to serve over 30 clients in a single day.
Every time I hear these numbers, I tend to despair. What could I possibly do to help? Well, Mother Teresa made it simple: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” If every one of us did our part, this problem could be quickly eradicated. But awareness must be increased, and action must be taken. As Edmund Burke once said, if good men do nothing, evil will prevail.
One of the best and most exciting parts of this book came at the very end in the appendices – a section entitled “What can I do?” Here, Laura detailed an extensive list of action options just about anyone can do to help. Here are some examples:
- Sponsor an investigator to look for victims
- Volunteer (with organizations like Exodus Road or after-care facilities)
- Get educated, advocate, fundraise
- Buy fair trade
William Willberforce said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” So, none of us are really without excuse. We have to raise our voices for all the children without a voice, and fight (intelligently and collaboratively) to rescue and defend them.
Here’s their recent stats:
And here’s their latest video.
Want a copy of the book? Post a comment below with an idea you practice to help combat human trafficking. For example, a comment could be “I buy fair trade coffee/tea!” And that counts. We’ll pick a winner in a few days and mail the book out to you. Thanks for reading.
In Style & Love.