Since this video was made, the estimated number of slaves in the world has increased from 27 million to 40 million. The problem certainly hasn’t gone away.
But saving the one is as important as ever. Sometimes we’re overwhelmed by the numbers. Our brains try to break down that big, ominous 40 million, and often, the humanity involved gets lost in translation. We just can’t wrap our minds around that much human suffering. That many life stories marked by trauma. That many grieving parents and frightened children.
So we see the number, rather than the human life behind it. And, well, numbers are easy to put aside when our heads hit our pillows at night.
We believe that if somehow we can remember the one – the one young mother who has been separated from her children; the one boy who has known nothing but grueling labor on a fishing boat – that’s when we can fight human trafficking in a meaningful way.
Since at The Exodus Road we work day in, day out, gathering evidence and building cases to rescue those caught in human trafficking, we need reminders too. Reminders of the human beings on the other side of our work – the ones awaiting rescue and the ones trying to recover their lives and walk into freedom.
For us, those reminders are stones. River rocks that can fit in the palm of your hand, inscribed with a name, a place, and a date. We have nearly 900 stones in our U.S. office today, and each one represents a human life. Each one represents a story – scarred by slavery but forever changed by rescue.
The stones in our office that represent every rescue we’ve helped make possible. They remind us that our work is not for a cause. Our work is not for a number. Our work is for each individual person who deserves to find their way home.
Whenever we get news of a new rescue, our staff gathers for a rock party. We take a moment of silence to reflect on the lives of each survivor. We talk about their stories. Then, we take a blank stone – once representing a life enslaved – and we draw freedom.
We look forward to the day when we’re surrounded by thousands of freedom stones. Thousands of unique, individual reminders of lives that matter. Lives that are now free.
See how it all began.
Download Laura Parker’s book, The Exodus Road: a Wife’s Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue.