My eyes dart from the computer screen to my phone on the far corner of my desk. It won’t hurt to check it quickly. I’m at a stand-still with these reports anyway.
I pick up the phone and see the email headline at the top of my notifications.
BREAKING! 16-year-old girl is now FREE.
My eyes read the words before my brain fully comprehends what they mean.
I sink back in my chair, trying to process the thought of a 16-year-old girl caught in something as unspeakable as sex trafficking. Every time I receive one of these messages, my heart both sinks and soars at the thought of children being removed from such abusive situations. My own daughter, Grace, just turned 16. I can’t even imagine being the mother of one of these girls or boys. In fact, I don’t want to imagine it.
I take a deep breath and click on the link to open the email, hoping for good news about the girl.
Thanks to TER operatives and local police, a 16-year-old Mediterranean girl named Nadia is now FREE.
She was being sold at a small brothel inside a bar in the city at the time of her rescue. She told us that the same woman who offered her a nanny position online forced her to work at the brothel once she arrived in the city. For nearly two months, Nadia was sold for sex multiple times every night and deprived of the money she worked for and intended to send to her family.
But now she is free and working on building a bright future for herself in our partnership safehome. Her social worker reported to us that she is continuing her education so she can one day get a job as a teacher.
“She is a very smart girl with a lot of passion and potential. She has a kind heart.”
When her social worker asked how she feels about her new life, she replied, “I finally feel safe. People here truly care about me, and I’ve made lots of friends. I can’t wait to see my family again soon.”
Nadia will remain at the safehome while she heals and prepares to go back home—to her family’s small new cottage by the sea.
The two traffickers involved were arrested and charged with human trafficking. They will both face 10–30 years in prison.
The Exodus Road Team
A Sense of Responsibility
I am filled with such intense feelings that I can’t tell if it’s elation, sorrow, or anger. My heart breaks at the thought of what trafficking victims experience every day. Their stories make me weep.
I can’t fathom the depths of trauma this young girl has gone through. I don’t even want to think about the thoughts and feelings that she had to endure during her time in the brothel...or the people, places, abuses, and humiliations that still haunt her.
I am so angry knowing what was done to her. How could anyone take advantage of a young girl?
Knowing that Nadia’s traffickers are behind bars and she can continue her life with hope for the future is inspiring—and an incentive to support more of this kind of life-changing work. If I can donate so that someone else doesn't have to experience that or can be rescued from it, I will continue to give as long as I breathe.
I put down the phone, and remember where I am… in the comfort of my office. I have never been so thankful for what I have: a good job, a safe home, a beautiful family.
I feel a renewed sense of responsibility to myself, to my own daughter, and to Nadia—the 16-year-old girl on the other side of the world.
She Could Be Anyone
It's important for me to remember that even though the problem is so prevalent in the developing world, it also happens right here in America. The thought of a child of mine trapped in such a hopeless and dark situation makes my eyes burn with oncoming tears.
I glance over at the family photo I have in a silver frame on my bookshelf, and my eyes are immediately drawn to Grace. She’s standing next to her older brother, smiling without hesitation—like every young girl should.
My daughter gets to play soccer after school. She can hang out with her friends at the mall. She still needs her mom (though she might disagree). The thought of her—or one of her friends—being trafficked turns my stomach.
In the past, my husband and I have shared a moment of silence for men who were rescued from an illegal fishery. We’ve prayed for the healing of boys who were recovered from an online sex trafficking case. We’ve held a celebratory meal for the rescue of women from a brothel.
Tonight, I think we will do all three.
Become a Part of The Story
I can't be on the front lines of this fight, investigating brothels or caring for survivors, but I can give financially so others can be. Each time my donation goes to TER, I get to be a part of the story. I get to become a partner in front-line rescue work.
I guess my husband and I are proof that an ordinary family from Colorado—from anywhere—can fight for justice.
I gave to The Exodus Road because we believed there was something we could do. I give today with the hope that human trafficking will stop, one victim at a time. And I will continue giving until she is free.
Throughout this series, you’ve seen what goes into giving rescue: the work, the stress, the time, and the celebration and healing. To close, we wanted to highlight the critical part our donors play in this work. Before writing this piece, we interviewed some of our longstanding supporters. Their words and dedication to this fight were moving and inspired this final chapter.
Without the generosity of donors who support the mission of The Exodus Road, survivors of human trafficking would not be found, rescued, and brought to safety. When you give rescue, you equip investigators to go into dark places, you free sons and daughters around the world, and you empower social workers to walk with survivors on their journeys toward healing.