By Barbara Anderson
Human Trafficking Awareness Day is January 11.
For over ten years I have been involved in awareness, advocacy, and assisting survivors of human trafficking and exploitation through an organization named All Hands In. I have waded through red tape, sadness, frustration, stories, and statistics in hopes of finding solutions. Finding solutions often evades me. However, what I did find is friendship–something I didn’t anticipate. This friend (I’ll call her BFF) has more courage than I could ever imagine, a faith in God that can move mountains, and a heart that has so much love to give. BFF makes me laugh, helps me see things from a different perspective, and shows me what it is like to walk in another woman’s shoes. We are writing this blog post together to show the power of God’s love through friendship. My BFF lifts me up in prayer, always senses when I am down, and sends me a text just when I need to hear words of encouragement. She has taught me many things and, in the process, has challenged me as well. My friend is a daughter, a mother, a sister, and a grandmother. My friend is a survivor.
BFF writes: In the darkness of being a survivor of human trafficking/sexual exploitation, your voice is seldom heard. Through All Hands In, I was seen and I was heard. I came seeking support and healing. What I found was a God-based friendship. I found a woman of substance, a woman who carried wisdom like a cloak gently wrapped about her. I was engulfed by this perfectly lovely woman and loved unconditionally. No judgement, totally accepting, and incredibly fun. I have been given hope that my life can be used to bring healing to others. I thank God for the gift of this ministry and this life-giving friendship with my friend Barbara. I am blessed beyond measure, holding in my heart hope for the future.
We share our thoughts with you recognizing that January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We wanted to put a face on women who have been trafficked and exploited–people like you and me. You might pass them in the grocery store, sit next to them on the subway, or even greet them at church. Some of these women may no longer be on the streets, but they still have the scars and the baggage of their ordeal. Trafficking and exploitation of women is a horrible, dark, and violent crime. It happens every day in our own neighborhoods and communities.
We encourage you to learn more about what is happening in your communities and how you might make a difference in the life of an exploited woman or girl. Use your voice, lend a listening ear, and share God’s love through friendship. You might be surprised how God will use you and, perhaps, like me and BFF, you will be blessed by the gift of friendship. Love Heals.
Barbara Anderson & BFF
Barbara Anderson is founder and president of All Hands In, a nonprofit organization in Boston, Massachusetts, dedicated to raising awareness about local human trafficking through presentations and events, educating about the importance of purchasing fair trade items. BFF is not pictured for reasons of safety and privacy.