Jess' Story (Or, "How God Can Use Anybody")
Hello! Welcome to the Vos También blog. This is our first post! We started this blog to keep you updated on the happenings of VT, relevant news involving human trafficking around the globe, and to engage with those who would like to get to know our team a bit better.
I'll start by introducing the story of how I, Jessica, got involved with the fight against modern day slavery, or human trafficking, and why I think that awareness and education of the public is the very first and possibly most important physical step in ending human trafficking in our lifetime.
When I was 18, I went on a 1,200-mile road trip with my sister. It was one of the best trips of my life. We went to a music festival, we pushed the limits of how long the human body can be awake at one time (as well as how much caffeine the human body can withstand), we slept in a one-person tent and lived out of a 1992 Volvo. We were addicted to coffee and chocolate. We expected to have an incredible time, and come home- which we did. But what really happened exceeded my expectations completely. I didn't expect it to change the course of my entire life.
While at the music festival, we met what felt like thousands of interesting people- metal heads, pastors, drug addicts, teachers, naked people, abolitionists, you name it- the most intriguing of which told us about "modern day slavery." We found out that approximately 27 million people were being sold like cattle for menial jobs, organ transplants, and sex. We learned that those who were growing the coffee that we drank by the gallon were not making enough money to send their children to school- thus continuing the cycle of poverty in their family. All because we, as a society, didn't want to pay an extra dollar or two for our caffeine addiction. I learned that there were children dying in clothing factories while they worked seemingly endless hours making the clothes I bought while shopping the sales at the mall. All because paying an adult is cheaper, and properly inspecting a building in Bangladesh is just "too expensive" to the multi-billion-dollar fashion industry.
I. Was. Floored.
I honestly had no idea any of this was going on in my safe, Americanized life.
When we got home, my sister and I began to research. We spent hours poring over articles, newspapers, reports, and personal stories. We found out that the chocolate we adored so much was most likely grown and harvested by people who were not paid a wage high enough to feed their children. We found out that girls our age and younger were being sold to multiple men for amounts we spend on a cute pair of shoes. We found out that the clothes that we had on were made in sweatshops that forced preschool-aged children to work to pay off the unfair debts of their parents. It was eye-opening, to say the least. It continues to astonish me. I knew then that I couldn’t be silent.
So we started looking into ways we could help. We signed petitions, we told our friends. We switched our coffee and chocolate brands to ones that were proven to be ethical. We wrote letters to our government. And yet people still didn't know. So we started a fair-trade coffee kiosk at our church. With that platform we were able to talk to people about slavery, over a delicious cup of joe. After that, we were hooked. We knew we could no longer stand by and lead normal lives.
It wasn't until a few years later, after my sister had become an RN and I'd gone to college for Fashion Design (?!) that God revealed His plan for my life. And boy, was it big! The plans God had for my life, the plans God HAS for my life, were absolutely astonishing. He really CAN use anybody.
I was in a small group discussion about destiny. We were going around the room talking about our calling, and I had no idea what I was going to say. I had passions, but I had no idea what direction I was supposed to take them in. What was I going to do with a fashion design degree and a broken heart for women caught in the sex trade?
My turn came, and I immediately burst into tears. God absolutely wrecked me that night. He showed me how He felt about those girls who were being forced to service men and pay a pimp to do it. He showed me that not only did He have a plan for MY life, but He absolutely ADORES those women and girls. He loves them and longs to set them free.
So, being the smooth, educated, and put-together person that I am, I blubbered something about helping women who were being prostituted and continued to cry through the entirety of the night.
Little did I know, something was stirring in some of the other people who were in attendance that night.
Stay tuned for the stories of others on our team.