Operation Underground Railroad – Part 1
Have you ever had your husband or dad sell you for sex? My guess, (and hope), is absolutely not. But this is sadly the norm in far too many places in our world. We recently returned from a life changing experience in Guatemala with Operation Underground Railroad, who works to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex-trafficking.
Victims NOT Prostitutes
Of all the stories to be told about sex-trafficking, there is one that I don’t believing is being told loud enough. While child sex-trafficking is absolutely horrific, and is gaining awareness, but what about the 30, 40, 50 year old women who were once “child-sex-slaves”? Once these children hit the age of 18, they often become prostitutes as it is their livelihood to provide for themselves (and often their children). These victims are often not looked at as victims. They are looked at as prostitutes, who are looked down on, and blamed for choosing that path for their lives. “Sex” for money is is judged with disgust, shameful behavior, and sin.
In Guatemala, the red light district is called La Linea, which means ‘The Line’. It is where many women sell sex, as it’s the only way they know how to provide for themselves and for their children. If you are up for it,…. watch this disturbing video footage of La Linea:
No one should be treated this way. NO ONE!!! I once heard someone say that any prostitute, regardless of circumstances, is a victim. They are ALL victims, and I full-heartedly agree.
Most of these women DO NOT want to be prostitutes. They have very little skill or education and aren’t given the opportunity to provide the life they so desperately want. While in Guatemala I witnessed these women being given opportunity, these women embracing opportunity, and these women succeeding in changing their lives.
Operation Underground Railroad doesn’t turn a blind eye to these women who have grown out of childhood and have fallen in the traps of adult prostitution. Through becoming an abolitionist, funds are reserved to support women who want change.
Specifically, an incredible local Guatemalan couple, hosts free-enrollment classes to give victims all the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs selling food, selling goods, and NOT selling themselves. This local program not only teaches business skills, but then invests in their local business, giving them the chance they’ve always wanted, but never been given.
We had the chance to visit and support two successful entrepreneurs businesses while in Guatemala. In one word: happiness. It’s so hard to describe, but I could see happiness radiating from their eyes. I can only imagine what both of these women have gone through over the years, but today,… all I saw was happiness. They were PROUD of their businesses they’d built, proud of taking care of themselves and their children, and proud of the change they had made.
Sarah, (name changed for privacy), had started a small Guatemalan store selling “dollar store” type items. In addition, she sold food from a small food cart stationed in front of her store. As she balanced customers coming in her store and changing meat on the grill, her 7 year old boy played around the shop. It was beautiful in every sense of the word.
Rebecca, (name changed for privacy), always wanted to own her own restaurant. After years of prostitution, Operation Underground Railroad helped that dream become a reality. Rebecca has now been in the restaurant business for over a year. Some mornings she has lines of people waiting outside for breakfast! She wasn’t shy about telling her story to us as we ate her delicious homemade food. While Rebecca still has hard days, her life has been forever changed by someone giving her the chance and believing in her.
Rebecca’s daughters, age 3 and 16, are now watching their mother run a restaurant as a means for providing for them. I couldn’t help but tear up as I saw her toddler, playing with well-used plastic kitchen she had been given as a gift. That sweet little girl played with her kitchen for over an hour as we ate. She wants to grow up to be just like her Mamma, and cook food for others.
Do you see the chain reaction here?! Generations of change on the horizon! Rebecca’s daughters will know their bodies are sacred and not for making money. Her daughters will see what comes of hard work and not giving up on dreams. I have no doubt that her daughters will become everything they want to be.
Rebecca kept expressing how honored she felt that we had chosen to come eat in her home/restaurant. In reality we were the ones who felt honored at the opportunity to witness her story first hand and devour her delicious cuisine.
I find pure JOY knowing that my small donation, by being an abolitionist, goes towards supporting these “victims” (that are so often not looked at as “victims”).
Operation Underground Railroad and the partners they work with are doing powerful things. They’re going into the belly of the beast and fighting evil and darkness with goodness and light. I know quite a few people who get uncomfortable when we talk about human trafficking and child sex slavery. GOOD! It should make you uncomfortable. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most awful things going on in our world. And, it’s rampant. Even here in the United States. In fact, did you know the US is the #1 consumer and producer of child pornography? This is a real and awful thing facing our world, and O.U.R. is doing something about it!
We are so grateful to be able to join this fight, and hope you will join too.
Right now, the biggest need O.U.R. has is financial. We would love you to join us in becoming an ABOLITIONIST! Having seen O.U.R. in action, we know firsthand that these funds are being used sacredly and correctly.
Consider giving just $5 a month, or if you can do more, this is such a worthwhile cause. I’m willing to give up 2 Diet cokes a month in order to help victims like Sarah and Rebecca! Are you?