A Slave’s Story. Part One. Sold and Trafficked.


Hi, my name is Anna.

Привет, меня зовут Анна

I’m 15.  Up until the time that I’m telling you this story, I’ve lived with my mother in St. Petersburg, Russia.  This has always been my home.

Things have never been easy for us.  I don’t know my father, he’s not around, and my mother has had to work as a prostitute just to feed us.  She’s been doing this for as long as I can remember.  It’s hard on her.  There aren’t words for it, really.  She sells herself to feed me and my three younger siblings, and it breaks my heart.

I want more than this for her, for my family, and for me, but I’m not sure how to get it.  When I was 13 years old, I dropped out of school to work at a local bread shop.  It doesn’t make much.  Most weeks it barely feeds us…. but it helps.  That’s all that matters.  I wish I could do more.

I work every day.  It’s not a difficult job, I would never complain.  I just wish I could make more money.

One day as I was finishing at the bread shop, I was thinking… always thinking… about what I could do more to help.  I’m old enough now that this is partly my responsibility, too.  I walked home a little slower that day than I usually do.  I couldn’t tell you why, but I walked home slowly enough that as I was walking past a store I’d never really noticed before, I saw a sign in the window.

A free trip to America to work as a nanny.  It would pay $1000.00 USD per MONTH!  I can’t fathom that much money.  I’ve never seen so much in one place at one time in my life.  This would be unbelievable.  What my mother could do with $1000.00 US per month is unimaginable, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

I stood outside the window for a long, long time.  I wrung my hands and I thought.  Hard.  It would break my mother’s heart if I left Russia for America.  Russia is all I’ve ever known.  Is this possible?  Could I really do this?  I was so nervous.  I started to tremble and I felt slightly nauseous.

I walked into the store hesitantly and was greeted by a storekeeper who helped me apply.  It felt too good to be true, the whole time.  It made me wonder what could possibly be wrong with this.  Was there a catch?  Are there no qualified nannies in America?  What use could I be?  A 15 year old Russian girl who speaks no English?  But I pushed the thoughts out of my mind as I finished my application.  Catch or not, it’s $1000.00 per month, and my family couldn’t afford for me not to try.  For that much money, my mother could end her career as a prostitute in search of something that made less money, but didn’t kill her soul in the process.  Something she could be proud of.

Two days later, I handed my passport over to a man who told me that he would take care of all of the details of my flight to America.  It made me incredibly nervous to hand over my passport.  I’d always been taught that it was precious, that it was mine and only mine, and that I should never let it out of my sight.  But if it needed to be done….

I showed up with one bag packed.  I didn’t own much, anyway.  I’ve never needed much.  Just a little bit more than what I’ve always had.  Saying goodbye to my mother and my siblings was agonizing.  It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.  I knew though, that I had no choice.  I had to go.  It was this, or we would continue in this cycle that for many people in situations like ours simply never ends.

I burst into tears.  My mother hugged me.  My siblings begged me not to go.  I told them that I loved them, that I would write, and that I would send money, and we would see each other again.  I begged them not to worry about me.  Things were going to be different soon.

The man who’d taken my passport told me it was time to go, and I boarded the bus that was to take me to the airport, and then on to America.  I wasn’t alone, there were four other teenaged girls on the bus with me.  We started to chatter about what we thought America would be like, and what a difference we’d be making in the lives of our families.  We’d all seen the same posting in the same shop window.  None of us asked what I was sure we were all thinking… “Why does America need five teenaged nannies from Russia?”  We were just so thrilled.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this whole arrangement was, in fact, too good to be true.  The chatter on the bus stopped when we didn’t go to the airport.  When we crossed the border into China.  We started to ask questions, but we were ignored.  We were scared, we were hungry.  We asked for food and they gave us hardly anything.

My nightmare technically began the moment I walked into that shop, but the moment I realized that I was truly in terrifying trouble was when the Russian man driving the bus stopped, picked up a Chinese man, and handed over our passports in exchange for a wad of money.  The Chinese man was now riding at the front of the bus, staring at us intermittently, smiling in a way I’d never seen a man smile, holding our passports.  Something was very, very wrong.

To be continued……

So, here’s the deal.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m now a part of this blogging team for The Exodus Road.  I told you when I told you about this opportunity, one that allows me to write about something other than myself, that when I had more information from them, I would post.

They’ve given an opportunity in their most recent newsletter for their bloggers to take a few different angles at the information that they’ve given us.  One such angle is what I did above — telling Anna’s story creatively in four parts.  While I haven’t a clue what it’s like to be stolen from my family or taken advantage of at such a shocking level, I’ve done my best above (mostly through the information I was given) to try to think about how 15 year old Anna might be feeling as she was sold into the hands of a man in China, wondering whether or not she’d ever get home, when all she wanted to do was to go to America and try to find better circumstances for them.

It kills me to think of how often this happens.

One of the other ways they offered as a suggestion for us to post some of this information was to give you, our readers, some statistics and facts.

So here are some.  Because I found for me, being decent at creative writing, I can string a story together… I can work with the character I’ve been given… but it wasn’t until I got to the bottom of the email with the factual information about the modern day slave trade that my heart began to hurt.

Here are some links or facts you might find interesting.

About Asia and the Sex Industry:

According to the International Labor Organization, four Asian countries depend on the sex industry for 2% to as high as 14% of their economies. UNICEF reports in The State of the Worlds Children 2012, that out of the 2.5 million people trafficked in the world it is estimated that 22 – 50 percent of them are children.  Of those trafficked some studies show that most trafficked underage women are used in the sex industry. The UNODC’s report: Global report on trafficking in persons 2012 states that much of that activity happens in SE Asia.

– Facts compiled by a recent Exodus Road blogger who traveled to Asia and saw these things First Hand.  I have taken these facts right from the newsletter that was sent to me.  I’ve given credit where the links were provided to me.

{My inserted opinion:  That’s a shocking number!  That’s 550,000-1,250,000 CHILDREN being sold and trafficked.  If my math is correct.  Not that human trafficking is OK if it’s adults, or any less heinous… just… those poor children.  It makes my heart sad.}

About Trafficking in the US:

In the United States, the number of trafficking victims is roughly equivalent to the number of murders each year, according to “The Slave Next Door” by Kevin Bales. And while 90 percent of murder cases are solved, only 1 percent of trafficking cases ever reach prosecution. – CNN Freedom Project

About the Money Slavery Generates: (From CNN Freedom Project – The Facts.  {This is shocking.  These numbers are gut-wrenching.  I had no idea….})

freedom.number.t1larg.4.ok

Here’s where I’m at a loss for words.  And if you know me personally, you know that doesn’t happen often…. even if you only know me through my writing, I’m sure you can assume I can yammer with the best of folks…. but here I truly don’t know what to say, because I don’t know what to do.  For now, my job is to be a voice.  And a voice to you I have been… and will continue to be.  Want to find out what happens to Anna?  You’ll have to wait for parts 2, 3, and 4… I don’t have that information yet, or I would tell you right now.  I really want to know, and I can’t wait to tell you.

One way the people at Exodus Road have suggested we can do something is to buy a t-shirt.  I know, it sounds so trivial.  But 100% of the profits from the sale of this tshirt go directly into the field to help fund operations and rescue missions.  Check out a bit of a mission statement from Justin, a guy who is doing a ton of work with Exodus Road.

Check out the tshirt!

shirtFront

Go to the link above if you’d like to get yourself one of these snazzy shirts.  Limited time only.

I’ll leave you with this.

Isaiah 58:1-14  The Message

I picked The Message because, while it’s not my favourite translation (you may have noticed that I favour the NLT), it packs a pretty powerful punch here.  Check it out.

1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’

3-5 “Well, here’s why:

“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!

That’s it… please follow and stay tuned for the rest of Anna’s story.

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10 thoughts on “A Slave’s Story. Part One. Sold and Trafficked.

  1. So great of you to share this. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be trafficked either, but I’m walking a red light district as soon as I’m done writing this, and meeting with some of these girls. I can tell you first hand that almost all of the girls, even if they’re not trafficked, want to get out. Your writing helps.

  2. Thank you for posting, and for helping these children. It’s beyond a travesty. The nature of Christ is such that each time one of His beloved children is hurt, He’s crucified yet again.

  3. This is great! I am also an Exodus Road Blogger, and am attempting to write Anna’s story. It is my first attempt at fiction, but I want to get ‘her’ story out there! I love how you write a part of the story, give stats, tell us how to help, and back it all up with scripture! This is a site that I want to come back to! Thanks for taking the time to keep the world informed, and interested!

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