Human trafficking occurs in many locales, foreign and domestic. Its tentacles extend to industries from fashion (think workers buried in Bangladeshi factories) to fingernails (far too many nail salon workers are enslaved). Like Hercules confronting the many-headed Hydra, combating trafficking must take place on many fronts.
My friend Diane is part of a group focusing on trafficking that occurs at truck stops. They are enlisting the help of truckers themselves. I asked Diane’s permission to share her story of their last visit to the truck stop. I hope you’ll find it encouraging and that it might spark ideas in your mind of ways you could be a hydra head cutter as well.
Up until last night, we’ve been blessed to have good relationships with the management, meaningful prayer times in our vehicles, and safe travels through the parking areas of the truck stops. Sometimes we’d get in conversations with the truckers and let them know why we’re there, but that was a bit rare. We don’t want to just walk up to the men and start lecturing them on human trafficking. I had been wondering and praying about how we could interface more with the drivers without being pushy, not only because we don’t want to come across as obnoxious, but we also don’t want to jeopardize our relationships with the management by bugging their clientele.
So last night, we decided to ask the manager if we could do a “live commercial” in the tv room, and he said that would be fine. ( !) There were about a dozen men watching a show, and when there was a commercial break, we went to the front, introduced ourselves and thanked them and told them we appreciate what they do, and recognize the long hours they spend on the road away from home so that we can enjoy the goods that they bring to our local stores. Then we told them we go to truck stops to make sure the Truckers Against Trafficking wallet cards are in good supply. We talked VERY briefly about trafficking at truck stops, and described how they can be “everyday heroes” and report questionable activities via the Hotline number. We thanked them for being the eyes and ears of the road, and again thanked them for the work they do each day. We had their attention! All of that took about 2 1/2 minutes. A couple of guys asked for the cards right away, and we ended up handing one out to each person in the room. One guy balked at the idea that the girls are forced into it, and as we tried to explain to him what the victims experience, several other men backed us up and knew exactly what we were talking about. It was very interesting to watch the dynamics of the discussion—which went a little past the commercial break and into the show time! We felt so charged after that, having made more of a direct impact on a group of truckers. It excites me to think about what could happen if only one of those men tells another, or makes the call to the hotline number which results in a rescued girl!
Thank you for praying for us last night. I know God heard you, and it was amazing.
Just so you’re aware, when people call the hotline number, they reach a resource center run by the Polaris Project that can do various things depending on the nature of the call. In the case of a trucker reporting a suspicious-looking activity or being fairly certain that he recognizes a case of trafficking going on, a call to the hotline could result in contact with law enforcement who are trained in the area of the human trafficking. Or, instead of calling law enforcement directly, the hotline personnel could advise the caller on how to proceed in getting help for the victim; it’s better for an adult victim to call the hotline number directly when it’s safe for her to do so, so as not to potentially jeopardize her safety.
If you live in the Lancaster area and wish to learn more about visits to truck stops, just send me your contact info and I’ll pass it on to Diane.