Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know."

I've been avoiding writing this post.
I'd rather pretend that these things don't happen, or that they happen so far away from where I am that it won't seem real to me.
But it is real.
And it's happening right now.
It's happening where I am.
It's happening in Portland. 
Every. Single. Day.

I'm a mom.
I don't want to think about children the same ages as my kids being exploited.
But ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

If anything, ignoring it makes me part of the problem.

My friend Stephanie is a Compassion Entrepreneur with Trades Of Hope. "My heart breaks on a daily basis. I need an outlet. So, here I am. Helping women who have been rescued out of sex trafficking and extreme poverty. If I do not help, I will become bitter. Bitterness is not an option for me." 

Because of her sensitivity to human trafficking and sexual exploitation, Stephanie became involved with Shared Hope International, "a wonderful organization started by congress woman Linda Smith in 1994. It focuses on rescuing women [and] children from sex trafficking."

Their website says, "Shared Hope International is dedicated to bringing an end to sex trafficking through our three-prong approach – prevent, restore, and bring justice."

When Stephanie decided to begin homeschooling, her involvement with Shared Hope International had to be scaled back, but the problem of sex trafficking never left her heart. "Eventually, my thoughts drifted back to the idea of Trades Of Hope. In April of this year I decided to tough it out and be the first [Compassion Entrepreneur] in the Vancouver/Portland area. I love it!"

In my last blog post, "What Do Recycled Cereal Boxes, Orphans, And Jewelry Have In Common?", which you can read HERE, I wrote about how Trades Of Hope works with Artisans in Haiti so that mamas can keep their babies and feed them well instead of sacrificially giving them up for adoption in order to save their lives. 

Trades Of Hope works with women throughout the world. Many of these women, including women in the US, are rescued from sex trafficking.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Often, not seeing another way, women are coerced to enter into the sex industry. But many are forced against their will. 5,000-10,000 women and girls ages 9-16 from Nepal are forced into prostitution EVERY YEAR.

Trades Of Hope helps protect women, like Kabita Gurung, by offering an alternative to entering into the sex industry. And once women are rescued from sex trafficking, Trades Of Hope gives them a future as an independent business woman. 

"Kabita Gurung was brought to Kathmandu (capitol of Nepal) to live with her aging grandmother, and her circumstances put her at risk for entering the sex trade. Instead, thanks to sustainable business she and others have been given an opportunity to earn a fair wage by making hand-crafts. This keeps many young women from entering and continuing in the sex trade. This group also assists poor and disadvantaged women and promotes entrepreneurship!"

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know."
-William Wilberforce
Stephanie has generously offered to give away one of these beautifully hand crafted Nepali scarves to one of my readers. 

"Do what you can with what you have where you are." -Theodore Roosevelt