Blog by the A21 Team
Most of us are aware of the reality of human trafficking in our day and age. It’s a sad fact in the 21st century. It’s not something we like to talk about, and frankly the problem seems so huge we’re not sure there’s even anything we can do that would make a difference. And personally speaking, I’d like to believe it’s happening in another city, state or country other than mine.
Here is the true story of a girl from our own backyard, who found herself caught up in horrendous circumstances…
Ella* is an American girl who had been in the foster care system for years. It was family after family. Her life was always changing. When she turned 18, she was too old to stay in the system. She felt hurt and alone with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. One day, a woman approached her asking if she needed any food or help. Ella* thought this woman really cared about her. The woman said her boyfriend was a good guy and could take care of her, and Ella* chose to trust her.
While everything seemed okay at first, the boyfriend suddenly told Ella* that she owed him money for everything he had provided for her. He began trafficking her, forcing her to go from city to city, selling her for sex. He told her she was worthless and that nobody cared about her.
But one day, Ella* met with a man who she thought was paying her for a service. He turned out to be a law enforcement officer who offered to help. Despite the risk, she trusted him and told him her story. The officer assisted her to safety, her trafficker was arrested, and she was connected with A21. We were able to find her safe housing and provide the services she needed to start building the life she envisioned for herself.
We believe that when we all come together for a common purpose and invest in the fight for freedom, survivors like Ella* can be restored to a life full of hope, possibility and independence. Your steps at your local Walk for Freedom, carry the message of human trafficking for the victims in your city. Your dollars carry the power to transform the lives of survivors around the world.
The sad truth is, human trafficking is thriving in countless cities and towns in America and the world. I have heard firsthand accounts from rescued survivors of human trafficking and I can’t un-hear or un-see what I encountered. If I think about it for too long – it scares me. I’m sure you feel the same.
So what can we do? We can’t keep our eyes closed any longer – it’s affecting our children’s futures. What we can do literally, is take one step at a time. The annual A21 Walk for Freedom allows us to walk in our local communities for a global impact. Globally to walk shoulder to shoulder across the globe making a statement that human trafficking is not okay on our watch, and we intend to do something about it.
That is literally your first step – to join us in your city for our annual A21 Walk for Freedom. This is a silent, single file walk (not a protest) to bring awareness to human trafficking, period. There will be over 400 walks happening on the same day globally – October 19, 2019. For Coastal Virginia our walk will take place in downtown Norfolk and encompasses all 7 cities. You can go to A21.org/walk/norfolk to register. Get your T-shirt and event details are on this website.
If you live elsewhere, go to A21.org/walk and type in your address to find your closest walk. It’s that simple to get started!*Survivor’s name has been changed for their protection.