As a senior adult, I live in a bubble. Our community consists of adults age 55 and older. We belong to a church where we mainly associate with others in our peer group. I stay on top of the news, but often remain unaware and uninformed about the serious cultural issues affecting my part of the world. In my last blog post I wrote about how my eyes have been open to the scourge of modern slavery—human trafficking.
Since my initial blog on the subject, I have researched ways people are addressing this problem. I’ve interviewed two people that work in different ways to make a difference.
Leah Kurtz works as a volunteer with the Out of Darkness Ministry in metro Atlanta https://outofdarkness.org/ She shared the following with me in an interview. The three-fold purpose of this important organization is to 1) Reach, 2) Rescue, and 3) Restore. This Christian organization works with people who have been victims of commercial and sexual human trafficking.
The local group of volunteers spends Saturday nights in the known hot spots and red-light districts of downtown Atlanta and surrounding counties. They pass out roses and cards to individuals and work to build relationships with those who work the streets. The cards provide a hotline number for those who want to call for help. Some volunteers go into strip clubs in order to be a positive presence in a negative environment.
It can be very difficult for those who are trafficked to try to escape their situation. They have been threatened and brainwashed by their pimps and have few resources. The presence of the Out of Darkness volunteers provides an opportunity for them to ask for help. The 24/7 hotline helps them to contact someone who can listen. If they are prepared to come out and go to a safe house, the group will conduct a rescue. As you can imagine, this is a dangerous process.
The safe houses are kept secret to protect the residents who stay from two to six weeks. The volunteers help the residents to obtain ID cards, Social Security numbers, birth certificates, and other documentation to reenter society. Often detox from drugs and alcohol is required. All who complete the short-term stay are admitted to long-term programs which last up to a year. Bible studies, trauma care, PTSD counseling, and classes in life skills are offered. Every person is different and requires help in different ways.
Leah further explained that the average age of a child that enters the human trafficking world in Georgia is 11-14. Over 2,000 men per month pay for sex and profit the pimps up to $32,000 per week. It is a more lucrative business than the illegal drug trade.
Even if you don’t feel led to volunteer with this group, you can pray, and provide financial and material support. https://outofdarkness.org/ Any help will be greatly appreciated.
My next blog post will tell about how the business community is involved in raising awareness of human trafficking.