THE ONE PERSON
One day I was sitting having coffee in our local mall. You know how you sit and people watch while you relax? Well, I sat there and saw a young skimpily dressed girl walk by in heels, looking to be about 16 years old.
I thought, “Wow, she looks pretty cheap dressed that way.” I sat there a little while longer and she walked by again, but this time with a whole new outfit on which was just as skimpy.
I thought, “That’s odd; what is she doing?” Later, she walked by with a man on her arm. Now I was curious and sat to see if I could see her again. Sure enough, she came by again, alone.
I remember how emotionless her face looked. I thought, “She must be a hooker in our own mall working the mall.” I thought it was unbelievable- not my business. I got up and left.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me what was going on. That day will forever haunt me because I didn’t do anything. I am different now that I have become aware of Human Trafficking.
Did you know, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (NHTRCH), in 2015, 21,947 calls came in either through tips or victims? Did you know that number is up 8,622 from year 2012? Did you know that 106 of these calls came from Pennsylvania? That is because one person like you or me is getting the word out and information is going out to be available for these victims to get free.
Now I know you are thinking, “I am just one person, what can I possibly do? I am not a police officer; I don’t run a safe house.” But that young girl’s face will forever be etched in my mind and I did nothing! Instead I judged, thought “It’s not my problem”, and walked away.
So I’ve decided to get educated and take some classes on what to look for. If I see anything suspicious, I try to make eye contact and offer a smile. I could be the only person that smiles at them that day. I try to make small conversation, but far too often they are being watched and they won’t chat with you. I tell as many people as I can to check out the NHTRCH site and get educated.
My husband is a long distance truck driver. He has been approached over the years by girls at the truck stops and just told them “get lost”. He saw them going from truck to truck. Now he knows to say, “No, thank you”, get in his truck, call 911, and tell authorities what he is seeing. When I ride with him and we stop, I am aware of what to look for now. I am not a vigilante by any means, but I can be that one person who cares.
Trafficking is real in our city. Have your heart open and don’t judge. God may have put you there to make a difference for someone who has been praying to be rescued. Let’s all be that ‘one person’.
-guest blogger Carol Ann Mentzer