Within the hollows of any tree is a root system that runs deep. This month, I have been reminded of the “roots” of injustice that occupy nations, keeping individuals and entire regions captive. Roots such as poverty, lack of education, hopelessness, and breakdown of the family all contribute to why injustice, such as human trafficking, exist. Like a root system, these issues intertwine and diverge to create layers of complexity. Not only that, but roots have offshoots that plant them even deeper into the ground. For example, systemic poverty alone is rooted in a number of issues, such as economics, social discriminations, and politics.
Somebody once asked me this question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer she explained is simple, “one bite at a time.” When looking at the issue of human trafficking, I am often reminded of this elephant. It can seem enormous and overwhelming, especially when we talk about the multi-layers nourishing this injustice. Stopping human trafficking can seem like an even bigger task, perhaps comparably as difficult as eating a 12,000-pound animal. But if we stay in fear and intimidation, slavery will continue through generations to come. It is only when we begin to unravel and uproot these issues, one-by-one, that we will see an end.
Preventatively, we can stop trafficking before it starts, if we all do our part. Our team in Cambodia sponsors children from poor families that would otherwise not have the opportunity to go to school. This is a simple way that we can address one of the roots that leads to human trafficking. The children we help are from poor slum and street communities, who if not educated would most likely end up working on the streets, putting them at-risk for future exploitation. While helping these children, we have found that one-by-one we are breaking the cycle of poverty that leads to exploitation. I am proud to say that many of the kids we sponsor in education are now empowered and are top in their class. One little girl just received mention that she is #6 in the nation, for her grade level. Wow! This generation will not face the vices that future generations endured, because whole root systems are being removed. We are just one of many groups addressing issues within the nation connected to education. Just imagine what will happen when we all do our part.
I remember a 9 year-old girl from Canada who desperately wanted to help poor children. She reached out to me to ask about the needs and decided she would sponsor children from poor communities, so they could attend school. She prayed and processed ideas to earn money and decided she would make bracelets and sell them to raise funds. Together, with her friends, she sold enough bracelets to sponsor 11 children for one full year of education! I was so inspired at her ability to look at her gifts, attach her faith, and use them to change a whole community. She looked at the issue and was not overwhelmed, because she began by looking at one child and one need at a time. With each child came another, and eventually, she was able to help eleven.
Digging deep and addressing these issues will eventually have a big impact on persons, communities, cities, and entire nations. Maybe you can’t sponsor a child’s education, but you can bring hope in other ways. Wherever your nation is, you can begin addressing the roots of injustice within your community. Perhaps a root in your area is a lack of information on why or how human trafficking exists in your city or nation, so you could create awareness by sharing in schools, your workplace, or in your neighborhood. If poverty is an issue, you could help at a local food shelter or be a listening ear to those who are poor in spirit. Whatever your gifts, experiences, or spheres of influence, begin by using what’s already in your hand. Your actions will have deep impact that will eventually change whole nations.
Love has a face.
Andrea Aasen is the Director of Extreme Love Ministries. She is a visionary leader with a heart to see justice released to the nations. Andrea has a desire to see women and children empowered and walking in their God created destinies. She believes in the power of LOVE to transform nations and individuals, and as a result, has developed various community, business, and advocacy models to support and protect victims of human trafficking, abuse, and other forms of exploitation.
This article was originally published in Andrea’s regular column “Love Has a Face” in our March 2018 issue.