An article about A Dream Maker was published in TUSK Magazine! We are honored to be spotlighted as a business that can do more. Read the full article at: http://tuskmagazinedenver.com/TUSKMagazine_2012.html
Five years ago we listened, we learned and we decided we would do all we could to join in the efforts to put a stop to the trafficking of human beings. At the time people were so eager to hear us share all we knew from the research we were gathering from friends near and far. We accepted many invitations to speak in local coffee shops, listen in on a UN gathering, share with university students in Latvia of deceptive, false job opportunities that would lead them to underground brothels, held conversations with gas attendants who had no idea that humans were being bought and sold right around them, and so much more.
Opportunities of every kind flooded us. From being involved with Oregon’s Human Trafficking Task Force, to having a rally pushing for a law to make trafficking illegal here in Oregon, and everything in between! We raised awareness, sold t-shirts and sent funds to projects we helped create such as Hope Homes in Russia. Hope Homes are apartments that help transition the orphan girls from orphanage life to everyday society. 80% of the orphan girls in Russia are sold straight from the orphanage into the sex industry.
The last three years have been a wild ride to say the least. Today I look at the latest statistics and the numbers have all increased. What was a 39 billion dollar industry today is a 45 billion dollar industry. 2.5 million men, women, children, and babies are being deceived, tricked or forced into slavery within 127 countries. I believe that some amount of the increase seen in these stats are due to more awareness and the truth coming to the surface, bringing to light the reality of how huge this problem really is.
Now we reevaluate. What have we done to help, what has worked, what more can we do? We have seen great accomplishments in the last three years, but need to see more in the years to come.
My personal conflict is seeing so many people, websites, organizations trying to raise funds to do something. I am encouraged to see so many people come on board to be abolitionist against trafficking. I understand money is always needed, but what is it being used for? Is it really freeing people, really preventing and saving people? Is it being used to restore and heal the wounded and sick? So little is talked about regarding what the funds are used for to stop trafficking. Therefor I have decided to spend some good amount of time looking, searching and finding people/organizations who are rescuing, preventing and healing trafficked victims. I want to find those who think they are doing little because they have little and give them what they need to do lots! I know they are out there. I want to continue to use my talents to create and sell my products in order to send funds or teach women to create, and provide for themselves. I want to take on an opportunity to work alongside the fashion industry which could provide safe, healthy work for many people who would otherwise be forced into the sex industry.
I want to do the little that I can do, because in the end if everyone does a little is can equal a whole lot! I hope when my two year old son reaches ten years of age, human trafficking will be abolished for good. The term would be long forgotten and this world will be a better place. If everyone does a little, a lot will happen!
We live in a world where little prince and princess still exist;
they live in rubble, ashes and shadows with many a clenched fist.
They don’t know that they’re royalty,
and they are unsure of their destinies.
They go unnoticed by so many
they are touched, abused and violated by too many!
They work in our factories,
have bloody hands and knees;
they are seen in secret hubs
and bought for a price in the clubs.
They give birth to babies with healthy livers, hearts and other body parts
only to be killed, purchased and put into a cart.
They are found across the ocean in caves—
they are living amongst us as slaves!
We need to make a noise
because they have no voice.
Please ask if you can
What do you have in your hand?
We can all do something little—
I use some thread and a needle;
I am a home maker,
I am a dream maker!
I can do something,
which is better than nothing.
We have been in Moldova a couple of days now. This little country that lies between Ukraine and Romania is beautiful despite all of the terrible corruption, extreme poverty and constant devaluing of human life. It is said to have the most amount of trafficked victims in all of Europe--one million missing in one year!
Today we headed south to a little village where we met a woman who has forever changed my life. For five years now I have been fighting this massive injustice of trafficking human beings: I have read, researched, spoken to groups, supported ministries, challenged people to get involved and do something, but on this night I walked away with a real story that sank deep in my heart. The issue became more real than ever as I held my baby girl and played with her little girls who, I later realized, were born in a brothel.
Our little team gathered together as she shared her story with us and it went something like this:
Times were really hard; my husband lost his job and we couldn’t find any work. We would do anything except take our kids to the streets to beg. One day a lady came to me and said there was work in Moscow in the markets. We decided that I would leave my husband and two little kids to go work in Moscow and send the money home to feed my family.
Everything was good for the first few months. The lady who recruited us women was a Moldovan and had a family back home too. We trusted her with our lives, until one day we came home to find out she had taken all of our identification and documents. She told us she was moving us to a new location for work. Never would I dream of the horror I would live through for the next four years of my life. We were taken to an abandoned factory where hundreds of trafficked people were working. Men were forced to pack weapons and drugs; ladies were made into prostitutes, beaten and raped again and again. I birthed two baby girls in two years. They took the babies away and kept them in a basement with other babies of other women. They only brought them up to be fed and we were given whichever baby they brought to us, whether it was ours or not. The babies were being born and grown in order to be harvested for their organs and sold on the black market. This evil really does exist.
One day I could not handle this life any longer. I wanted to die. A Belorussian man who was working near me told me not to give up, but to pray and trust God and we would be rescued. I started to believe and pray.
Several weeks later, a couple of men escaped, which led to the Russian Army shutting down the factory of hundreds of human slaves. We were told we would be sent home. I had to pick two babies that I believed in my heart were mine to take home.
When I returned home with my babies, life did not get easier. My husband left me with now four kids to raise, my mother cursed me until the day she died and my brother wanted nothing to do with me. My father heard my story and believed me enough to let me live with my children under his roof. People shamed me and believed I got myself into a life of prostitution. I could not get a job due to the fact that my documents said I had been trafficked. I was beaten by the traffickers so hard so many times on my head that I developed a tumor. I had to make a decision to get treatment in order to live and raise my children and try to protect them from the evil life I had experienced. I had to have chemotherapy three times. I am too weak and my body too abused to do physical labor for work. When once again I found my self hopeless a wonderful ministry picked me up and helped me start a new life. They built a chicken coup so now I can raise chickens and sell the eggs at the market. They come and check on me and my children often.
I sat and listened to this beautiful woman tell her awful story and left the room a few times to watch my baby girl play with her sweet children, two of which were born in the brothel but saved from having their little kidneys, lungs and beating hearts being taken from their bodies.
Some stories are never forgotten. Some will bring tears to your eyes, some will change your life forever. This one did for me, and now I will pass this story on because this woman deserves for her testimony to impact others, to cause us to react and do something, anything, to free the captives, to speak on their behalf.
One of out focus countries is Moldova as it is one of the poorest and it's population is decreasing at an alarming rate. From 1990 to 2000 the population plummeted by over 1 million people. That is a loss of almost 25% of the entire nation, most of which are youth and young adults. Though many people have left the country for economic reasons, this number is far too high for it to be due to that reason alone. Our contacts on the ground are convinced that a huge factor in the decrease of population is due to the buying and selling of people. We are hopeful that if we can help bring change to this little country, that it could be a leading example to the rest of Europe.