One of Slavery Footprint’s team members, Paulina, recently spent some time volunteering in Peru. Never did she think she’d experience something like this:
Located 13,000 feet within the Andes Mountains, Andahuaylas is a rural town that sits over 700 kilometers outside of the capital of Lima, Peru. Overwhelmed by breath-taking mountains and beautifully cultured people, the town quickly became home within two short weeks. Toward the end of July, I was blessed to serve at a local orphanage alongside 14 amazing teammates—playing sports, tutoring, and building community. The orphanage, which cares for abandoned and abused children, daily fights the mistreatment of innocent young lives, and rescues children from dire circumstances, including potential trafficking victims. While anti-human trafficking work was not the main focus of our trip, we entered into some incredible opportunities to talk to locals about the existence of injustice.
Day 1, I asked the Peruvian director if human trafficking was a local problem. Without hesitation, she replied that it was a big problem and extremely prevalent, especially for children. Never did I imagine that we would come across it ourselves.
One afternoon while walking through town with several teammates, I came across a sign hanging on the outside of a restaurant. It read: “Se require dos jovenes para Lima”, which translates to “Requires two young people to Lima”. At the bottom of the page was a number to call with no specific information or explanation for the recruitment. As my eyes ran across the page once again, my heart started to pound, and my stomach began to turn. I knew it was a deceitful front, a way to lure children into trafficking.
Wow. What were the odds that someone who worked for an anti-human trafficking organization in the states would read this sign? It’s real, and it exists everywhere. A simple piece of paper with no more than six words could have drastically changed a child’s life, ruined a life— it might have already. When we returned back to the orphanage, I showed the director what we had found. She confirmed that it was a ploy, and wrote down the number to further investigate.
Andahuaylas is just one town of thousands within our global community where human trafficking occurs. More then ever there needs to be a united purpose in seeking to set the captives free. Be enlightened, be the difference.