Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 13: Happy Valentine's Eve!

I have the best news. I almost can't believe it. I just found out the Senate passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). In case you're hearing Charlie Brown's grown-up voices, "Wah-wah, wah-wah, wah-wah," I'll explain. 

Years ago, I heard about lawyers and investigators who gave up careers here to learn the laws of foreign countries and defend people who were being taken advantage of. These professionals were sent by an organization called IJM (or International Justice Mission). I watched news clips and their promotional videos where investigators faces are blacked out because of the risk involved. They take on the sex-trafficking industry and free families forced to work in brick factories without pay. The saddest description I heard was that child slaves are very cheap to get, about $200 American dollars and because of this they're not taken care of. The investigator compared it to how we treat a paper cup - when we're done with it, we give no thought to crushing it and throwing it away. For this reason, kids aren't fed well. If they get sick, they don't get medical attention. The slave owners just aren't that invested. 

Before I could donate to IJM, I found other ways to help on their website. I called my senators to ask them to support the TVPRA that would re-issue government funding to foreign governments who've proved they're committed to dealing with trafficking. I signed a petition to President Obama, presented at a local college to raise awareness and hoped the act would pass. I felt frustrated when it would be on the agenda, but never get discussed. This happened over and over for two years and every time, I thought of the 27 million people in slavery who needed help yesterday. I watched Obama speak at the Clinton Global Initiative and cheered like Brian during football. When I again heard news that the act hadn't passed, I felt defeated and angry. If it didn't matter that so many people in our country were committed to this cause, how effective can our system be? 

After that, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't do everything I could to support. I did some, but I'd kind of given up. And then it happened. Yesterday morning. They passed it: ninety-three to five. It finally happened. It's moving on to the House of Representatives. So maybe this is premature, but my hope's back. 

I can't believe it. Someone pinch me. Somebody's baby far away, will not be given a job in the city they never come back from. Many somebodies. If every good gift is from Above, thank you, Aboveness. This is a very good gift. The best and most unexpected Valentine's gift I never dreamed of. Eat your heart out, chocolate. 

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