By Gail Hambleton, National Director of the Safe Haven Campaign
I have worked on initiatives in Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide, and have done humanitarian and mission work in different African countries engaged in war for eight years. I later worked in Nepal with children who had been orphaned by the civil war. The deep suffering of humanity in developing countries has always captured my heart and my attention.
I have more recently come to understand the profound emotional suffering of victims of human trafficking, (both American and foreign), and as I have heard survivors tell their stories it has shocked me to my core. Hence the Safe Haven Campaign, Interfaith Alliance to Abolish Human Trafficking was launched.
I tend to “dream big.” In the United States and Canada federal agencies and law enforcement are working with limited resources to combat human trafficking, which is at a crisis level. During a crisis, it is difficult to give time and attention to prevention. Yet public awareness generates community tips, which lead to cases.
What if every faith center and house of worship would commit to educate themselves on this issue, and then become catalysts for a broader public awareness in their neighborhoods and cities? It is time to work together to end this scourge in our world.
Let us remember the words of two famous faith leaders of the past:
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Even more to the point, from a famous German Christian during WWII:
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoefferr
All faith communities need to protect their families and children from traffickers. Spreading public awareness on this issue does real and permanent good for humanity. In the U.S.A. we are seeing unprecedented partnering between federal agencies, state agencies, nonprofits, law enforcement and faith communities, all of which make up the “anti-trafficking movement.”
This is extremely hopeful and could become a model for collaboration on other social problems. My hope is that all faith communities could work arm in arm on this issue, which is such a debasement to our common humanity. My prayer is that diverse people from all walks of life and all faith perspectives can work together based on universal values that we all hold dear: freedom, compassion, and justice.
Gail Hambleton will be a featured speaker on the “Vaccinating Our Communities Against Human Trafficking” webinar on May 27.