"Huh?" I look at the young guy behind the cash register at Golden Corral trying to figure out what he's talking about. Takes me a second to realize it's my shirt. I was wearing my shirt from Wellspring Living's "Stop Injustice" 5K.
"Oh," I say realizing. "Sex trafficking in Georgia"
"Wait...what...that happens here?" Now it is his turn to look dumbfounded.
"Yea, some estimates say an average of 400 girls every month" I explain.
"What do they do, like bring them from other countries?" He's still trying to figure this out.
"Well, yeah...but the majority of them are girls born here in America, in Georgia. Many of them running away from bad home situations, some of them trafficked by their own families"
The people in line behind us are impatient. I sort of motion to them and apologize for holding the line up.
The guy responds "Well, at least you spread some awareness." His face still hasn't been able to resume a normal expression as we walk away.
You'd think I'd feel elated that I'd accomplished something...but I didn't. Instead I pondered it a bit...what was that like for my kids as they stood there during that conversation. What did it do to the guy at the cash register? Would it spur him to action? Or-in the midst of a busy Friday night-would he forget it? And part of me was sad that he was no longer "innocent" of the situation. It's not that I want him to be innocent...I want to live in a world where I don't have to ruin that innocence because there is nothing there to tell. But I don't. I guess part of what I was shocked at was the fact he really didn't know! I live within this informed group of people that are really aware of issues going on here and internationally so even though I hear about how people don't know I don't think I've ever actually talked to someone who was completely ignorant of the situation. And I think that I thought-perhaps even judgementally-that if people didn't know they were choosing to be ignorant of it because they didn't want to know. But this conversation really made me aware that there are people who are just honestly unaware simply because they've never heard...because they've never imagined it could happen "here".
So...if you are one of those people or know one of those people...here are a few suggestions on how to learn more:
Wellspring Living I'm kind of partial to this particular organization. (And for those of you who don't get the joke...this is my new job) They also have the "Wellspring League" and you can go to You Tube and type in "Wellspring Living" and find some really good, informative videos.
A Future Not A Past has a website specific to Georgia or you can visit their National website.
The Not For Sale campaign focuses on all different areas of human trafficking.
And if you are wondering how you can get involved, Street Grace has lots of volunteer opportunites.
Watch the documentary "Very Young Girls"
There's a couple of really good blogs I'd suggest as well:
Matthew Snyder "Writing And Ideas That Are Changing The World"
9 to 20: A Survivor's Journey Out Of Trafficking
Making someone aware might ruin their day, shake their world, hurt their innocence but until more people are aware...and more than that...involved...this will keep happening. And I'm just not okay with that.