We know that human trafficking happens all over the world. You may live in a region where you see its effects clearly every day or it may be more of a hidden problem. Perhaps people from your village or town have been trafficked to nearby cities. Maybe they have gone in search of work but found themselves in jobs where they are not treated or paid fairly and are not free to leave. Or perhaps you live in a large city and know of people who are working without a wage or are being exploited in the red-light district. Human trafficking is never far away from us.
In this edition we have included a number of stories from people who have experienced human trafficking in different regions of the world: Uganda (page 16) and in the Horn of Africa (page 3). We hope this will help Footsteps readers understand how it affects ordinary people in communities like yours. We have included case studies of organisations in Cambodia (page 6) and Brazil (page 10) who are taking action to prevent trafficking happening in the first place, as well as a tool that you can use to tell others about the lies traffickers tell (pages 8 and 9).
One person's story touched me personally. When I lived in Central Asia, I had a wonderful teammate and friend called Katya. She told me that some years before she had been deeply in debt because her small business had run into trouble. She needed to pay off her debts and met a man who said that, if she went to Turkey, he would give her the money to clear them. All she had to do was live as a wife in the home of a rich Turkish man. My friend felt she had no choice and agreed. She got a visa to leave the country but in her heart she did not want to go. An uncle of hers had recently joined a local church and she poured out her troubles to him. He called his pastor and together they agreed that they would collect money from their congregation and pay off her debt themselves instead. What an incredible gift! The church was not rich but it gave everything it could to free my friend from her debts and give her the choice to stay in her own city. A year later, she heard from others that what the trafficker had told her had been a lie. She would in fact have been working in the red-light district.
When I think about human trafficking, I think about my friend who so nearly became a victim of this terrible crime. But I also think of the local church and how it intervened to help her at her time of greatest need. I hope that, after reading this issue, you will be more aware of the dangers of human trafficking and better equipped to play your part in bringing it to an end.
May the blessings of freedom be yours.
Alice Keen Editor
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