Friday, October 16, 2009

Schooled By Compassion

The last 8 months have been a beautiful steep learning curve for me. My family and I just moved up to work with Love146 about 8 months ago now. I don’t think there has been a moment here where I haven’t learned something. From how to work the Love146 fax & coffee machine to just how deep and dark this issue goes, I have learned so much! Between news articles and films, to lectures and office conversations, I have been so privileged to be here. I am often asked what I have learned during this 8 months. What is the one thing I have learned? I have thought about it a ton and while it might be hard to pull out one thing I think I can…

I have learned the face of this issue here…in my own streets, in my own city, in my nation. In the middle of my learning I have come to realize not only how blind I have been to the issue here, but I have also seen a lack of compassion in myself that is disturbing.

This all started back in May when I saw the film, Very Young Girls by GEMS . I sat and watched this documentary and was SHOCKED!

Here are the cliff notes of what I learned:

§ A PIMP IS A TRAFFICKER:I saw the reality of the “pimp & ho” culture in the US. I’ll never use the word “pimp” again to glorify anything such as “pimp my ride” because a PIMP IS A TRAFFICKER that our culture glorifies.

§ The average age that someone enters prostitution is 12-14: I saw children, 12-14 years old that were coerced and sometimes forced into prostitution. I don’t know about you but that will change the way I see any women or teen being prostituted on the street!

§ Did you know that in the first 48 hours of a runaway being on the street in the US 1 in 3 will be approached by a pimp or a trafficker: I saw vulnerable teens runaway from home to try to escape a bad home situation and end up being recruited by pimps who would promise them the world (and their love) in exchange for “just a few tricks.”

§ The problem is WIDE SPREAD: According to a 2001 University of Pennsylvania study, an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 adolescents are sexually exploited annually in the U.S. That is CRAZY!!! That is A LOT of children in our own back yard!

§ I don’t have to go ANYWHERE to be a part of ending this…Denver, New Haven, New York, Atlanta, LA, it exists! If we have eyes to see it!

While I watched this film the veil of my own culture was lifted for a moment for me to see what is really going on right now. As I watched I realized that there is no difference between the 14 year old in a brothel in Thailand and a 14 year old out on our streets…yet for me there had always been a difference. Why is it that before now I couldn’t see them in the same way? Was it my own culture that told me these children were “throw-a-ways” or criminals rather than beautiful women, children and victims? Was it the glamorization of pimp & ho culture? Was it race? Wealth? Whatever the reasons…I am more than sorry. I am ashamed. AND NOW I AM COMPASSIONATE!

If you haven’t yet, you should watch this documentary and allow your vision to change! This SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17th GEMS is doing a One2One Challenge, calling each individual who has seen the documentary to challenge one of their friends to sit down and watch the film. So friends, family… I’m calling you. Go to GEMS, watch the film...


NOTE: Out of compassion, Love146 is launching some US Prevention Initiatives this year. Go to Love146.org to see what we're up to!

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