On Sunday night I went down to my friend, Chantelle's church for what I was told was a "ladies' night". I arrived there and wow, her church (a school gym) was dressed up rather fancy for this ladies night. I soon found what it was about: a fundraiser for a charity called A21. I'd never heard of it before, however I didn't think much of it seeing as I'm not overly involved in the church so it could be any charity really.
The A21 Campaign is a charity involved in combating human trafficking and Petra Bagust was there as a guest speaker as she is highly involved in this line of work. She's well known, been on many TV programs and is the face for the likes of World Vision. I guess you could say she's one of the people who goes out into parts of the world, and comes back to spread the word - so to speak - of what is actually going on. Which is why she's so involved in the fight against human trafficking, a subject in all honesty, I knew hardly a thing about.
In countries such as Cambodia (for example) it is the responsibility of the eldest daughter to go out and get work to provide for the rest of her family, and in many places finding work is difficult. Families, especially those living in the more rural areas are exceptionally vulnerable and desperate. They say that human traffickers will, in more simple terms, keep their eyes peeled for families such as these and target them. They will arrive and offer the eldest girl a job in the city, and because they are so desperate they take the offer.
The girl, often as young as 12 is then taken and quickly realises the lie she was told. They take her passport and tell her she has to work to 'buy it back'. And more often than not, she is forced into prostitution and can have up to 40 clients per day. By now I was staring at Petra in horror, listening to her tell many of her different stories.
On average 457 women and girls are trafficked every hour, boys can also be taken. 99% of these people never escape and the 1% who do are rescued from organisations such as A21 and similar. The organisations have a vast number of people volunteering with their specific skill set - Lawyers, accountants, counselors and psychologists as well as many other people. It takes meticulous planning to rescue these people. You can't just walk into a brothel and take off with any girls without any paperwork.You can't get them out of the country without their passport, or back into their home country either (as they are often taken to another country to do the work). It can take months to plan the raid after a tip off and then once the girls are rescued it can take weeks for them to come to trust you. They don't know what's going on - for all they know, they're being moved to a new location to continue with the slavery. Many of them have had to turn to alcohol and drugs so that they become so "out of it" that they don't often realise what they are having to do.
It was awful and so eye opening, listening to Petra. She says that she herself, can't actually do anything. She just goes there and sees what's going on, interviews some of the girls who were rescued and brings back the stories for fundraising nights like the church had. She said she came back once and did two large fundraising dinners straight away - raising $507,000 over the two nights.
Petra explained how nowadays, humans are cheap - very cheap. Way back when slavery was normal, the people buying the slaves would pay top dollar and they would look after their slaves because when the slaves got married and had children - they too would become their slaves. However there are so many people in the world now, so if the slave happens to get sick and die, it's no big deal because there are plenty more people out there to take their place. Isn't it sick?
The slogan for the night: Alone we can do only little - but together we can do so much, is exceptionally true. Nice, unwanted clothing had been donated and was also being sold for $5 a piece on the night. So they got a large amount of money from the sale of all the tickets and clothing - I wish I knew how much had been raised. But there were more than 50 people there and tickets were $20 each. They at least raised $1000, which is something for sure.