Sunday, November 16, 2008

Other children in the world...

While Mike and I are, naturally, focusing a lot of our child-energy on our own little womb baby, we have an experience today that reminds me of the vast needs for children throughout the world. I am referring to a specific crime against children, and a specific charity championing for the children--and I think is important enough to share with my fellow baby-followers out there.

Today, Mike and I, along with my parents, who are visiting, and Mike's parents, who live nearby, go to Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Rockland County. We go there occasionally because the music is good, the church is full of warmth, and the pastor is incredible. When he preaches, he is interesting, engaging, and always shows us something new. We leave the church feeling inspired--never down on ourselves or negatively critical, but rather uplifted and ready to make positive changes. For those of you who go to church, or have been, you probably know, this is actually a difficult task to achieve--I have been to many churches where they make you feel bad about your life, they are too "over-the-top" or radical for me, the pastors seem out of touch with the world, or more frequently, I am simply bored and get nothing out of the experience.

But today, the experience has my total attention. There is a guest speaker, Rob Morris*, who is the president and co-founder of Justice for Children International, recently renamed Love 146. Love 146 is a not-for-profit organization which works toward the abolition of child slavery and sex trafficking. Rob is careful to point out that while 2 children are sold per minute into slavery, his organization is not working to merely minimize statistics--they are working toward completely abolishing this crime. The charity works mostly in East Asia (where Rob and his wife have adopted children) from a two-fold approach:

1) Prevention: Through raising awareness and reducing the risk for children in "high traffic" areas.
2) Aftercare: "training caregivers, providing safehomes and researching best practices for aftercare."

Rob's stories are heart-wrenching, but hopeful. There is much pain and struggle, but there are positive outcomes and resilience. Rob shares about how they discovered many sex traffickers were gaining business by advertising on Craiglist. Love 146, along with other organizations and state attorneys general, petitioned to have Craigslist put safeguards in place to deter criminals from using the site. Apparently, Craigslist resisted this for a few years, but just recently conceded to add safety features to cut down on the number of sex crimes advertised (the article mentions nothing of the resistance to putting these into effect--probably not something Craigslist advertises, but regardless, the outcome is positive). This also hits home, that while brothels and child slavery do exist in large numbers in Southeast Asia, they exist in the US, as well.

Here is a video in which Rob speaks about his experience seeing a child-brothel, and how the organization was formed:

Rob talks about how it is a challenge to engage in the issue of sex trafficking since most of us do not have a personal involvement (we become involved in issues of cancer or AIDS oftentimes when we know someone who has cancer or AIDS, etc.). While most of us will probably never know someone who has been involved in sex trafficking, this video is Love 146's small attempt to have you put yourself in the place of a child and imagine what it is is like in theory (or at least pull on your heartstrings with the music and printed narration):

I am not really sure how to end a post like this, so I guess I'll just leave it at that.

*Note: The link is to when Rob spoke at the church 2 years ago. The current talk is not uploaded yet on the church's website.


Monsoon Mama said...

This is something that's so awful to me that I almost couldn't finish reading your post! I'm so glad you are raising awareness about this and encouraging others to take action to STAMP OUT this horrible, horrible crime. I have found that ever since I became a mom, I just can't watch or hear about anything bad happening to kids... I have this horrible visceral reaction and have to change the channel/radio station before I freak out completely! The idea of any child ANYWHERE being hurt is too much for me to take.

Tara M said...

I know--it is heartbreaking and hard to hear about or see. Man--you do NOT want to see The Changeling then, Div! That was very hard to watch (albeit a good movie).

One thing that gives me hope in situations like these is how children really can be restored. It is not a quick and easy journey, but they are resilient, and they can have joy and laughter enter back into their lives, and start to trust again--if they are given the proper help. When I was in social work, I would see this happen to kids that came from awful situations--and it amazed me at how they really did change in a matter of days and weeks and months. Granted, they would still have issues to work on for a long time, but they did change. It was really a blessing to see.

Mike said...

The Love126 guy was really good, and their organization pretty incredible. It's pretty awful to think about the kids in these situations...