As you set out to partner with an amazing organization like iEmpathize, I recommend following Ronald’s advice by finding a cause that connects deeply with who you are at your core, down deep, perhaps where it causes you pain. – Dan Fortune, So What Pains You?
As I read Ronald’s advice, I reflect on what it is about human trafficking that connects deeply with who I am at my core, where it causes me pain. Through my involvement with iEmpathize I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible girls who are strong, spirited survivors of sex trafficking. While many things about spending time with these individuals stir my emotions, there is one thing in particular that strikes me at my core: I have a younger sister who is the same age as many of the girls in the safe home; the same age as millions of girls who have yet to be rescued from human trafficking.
The picture on the left is of my little sister, Sydney, who is 13 years old. She is picking up seashells on the beach. The picture on the right is a missing persons report for Marisol, a 15 year old survivor of sex trafficking who has recently gone missing from the safe home in Mexico City. I have held the hands of both of these girls. I have laughed with them, taken silly pictures with them, and played games with them. Both my sister and Marisol are colorful, strong-willed, independent, spirited girls. But they have lived dramatically different lives.
Through both of my trips with iE to Mexico City, I learned Marisol’s story – the sexual abuse to which she was a victim, and the restoration she experienced once being rescued and living in the safe home. More importantly than that, I learned who she was beyond the abuse. I learned what made her laugh, what her style was, how unique and funny she was. One thing in particular that I remember about her is she loved my cheeks- I have full, round cheeks – and she would pinch them and get the biggest kick out of it. I remember hugging her when we had to say good-bye and how tight she was squeezing, not wanting to leave all of her friends with iEmpathize. It was just a few weeks ago that we learned she went missing.
I pray everyday that God is protecting Marisol wherever she may be. I pray that she has not been taken and trafficked again. I pray that she knows her worth, and knows that she is valued and loved by so many people. I pray that she has the wisdom to know that selling her body is not the only way to be able to have a roof over her head and food in her stomach. I pray that she can find her way home.
This is what pains me and inspires me deep down to my core to fight alongside iEmpathize to eradicate child exploitation.