What do you expect to do when you retire? Take it easy...sleep in...travel...have more time for your favorite hobby...spend more time with family...volunteer more...? I guess I thought all of these things were possible - and more - but I didn't expect to have a tug on my heart for victims of human trafficking. I didn't even know about trafficking until the winter of 2008. When I began to understand the scope (millions of people are trafficked) and horror (forced prostitution, forced labor, degradation, desperate living conditions, violence, coercion and more) I was compelled to "do something" -- but what?
No one should be enslaved. Every person in this world is worthy of respect and dignity. But what can a retired woman do about human trafficking from her home in small town USA? The answer came from another woman, Sarah Symons, featured in Family Circle magazine in February 2008. She and her husband had been touched by the topic of trafficking and decided they'd get involved. They formed The Emancipation Network, assisting shelters that helped victims of human trafficking. Sarah invited women around the US to host an event, a "Freedom Party," to educate others about trafficking and give them the opportunity to purchase items made by survivors. Anyone can do it. Everyone can do it.
So I hosted a party, then another one. Friends and family with a heart for trafficking victims decided to buy gifts and items for themselves from The Emancipation Network. All money went right back to The Emancipation Network to purchase more items and so it's been going for the past couple of years. A craft show here and a party there -- purchases that benefit both buyers in our corner of the world as well as survivors in over 15 different shelters around the world.
Who'd have thought that God would bring this cause into my life? I don't believe in coincidence. I do believe in His leading. And now He's leading me to volunteer at some of these shelters in Kolkata, India -- more than just a little bit out of my normal realm and comfort zone.
And now it's only 10 days before leaving for India....