July 4th Freedom
When in the course of human events one set of people finds themselves captive and under the evil hand of another, then it becomes the duty of those free to step up and help them. For if one of us is not free, then none of us can truly be free. As our nation’s founders declared on this day 237 years ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As we celebrate these words today and as we honor our nation’s independence, let us not forget that far too many of our children are not free. They are shackled in a life of violence, perversion, and the slavery of being bought and sold night after night as sex slaves.
Similar to the brave men and women who declared our nation’s independence and then fought to protect it, we have an obligation to do what we can to free these children trapped in slavery.
At Araminta Freedom Initiative we are accomplishing just that. With your support, in the past year and a half Araminta has trained over 200 volunteers that are on the front lines in declaring that all children must be free. We have hired three staff members and have started to put the pieces in place to develop an aftercare model to holistically care for survivors of child sex trafficking.
Our Education Team is working on a plan to train all education personnel in Maryland to know what to look for as they prevent young people from being trapped in the dark world of modern day slavery. Our Economic Deterrence Team is working to certify all of the region’s hotels as traffic-free establishments by inviting them to be a part of F.R.E.E. [Federation to Responsibly End Exploitation]. We are fighting this battle for Freedom, and we have great momentum, but we need your help.
This battle for Freedom requires us all to contribute our time, talents, and treasures if we are to truly say that all of our children are free.
It could be sharing our cause with your friends, families, coworkers, or neighbors and inviting them to become involved through one of our Action Nights.
Maybe this passion in your heart is stirring to see true freedom come to all and you want to share your God given talents as an active member of one of our teams. We welcome your help and are excited to have you as a part of this organization.
Or maybe you have the means to support us financially and would like to be a part of our donor team by giving a recurring monthly donation of $25, $50, $100, or more.
Araminta Freedom Initiative has declared that this month of July is about Freedom for our children and, for this reason and on this day of our nation’s independence, we now join together in thanking you for your support and asking for your help in declaring to the world that we will see the day when all of our children are free.
Director of Development, Araminta Board of Directors
by Mark Stephenson, Director of Programs
Suppose you were in a hostage situation in a bank. The criminals in dark masks wanted to rob the place and run. Instead, they find themselves pinned down by police inside a bank full of innocent bystanders.
Imagine you are one of their hostages and you are sitting in a chair next to the door. In a flash you realize that all the armed bank robbers have their back turned to you. You have a choice. You could stay or you could run. There’s a chance that if you stay you could die. There’s also a good chance that if you run out the door, you could be noticed and shot by one of the bank robbers.
Now what if in the midst of this dilemma someone from outside the bank grabbed a megaphone and said to you, “You are free. Why don’t you just run out? You could choose freedom and yet you choose to sit in that bank and appease your captors. It’s your own fault that you are still a hostage. You have no one to blame but yourself.”
How would you feel about what that person just told you? Is it true that you are free? Is it true that you have a simple choice to make? No, that decision is anything but simple. The option of staying and the option of running are equally dangerous and life threatening. You might think to yourself, “Real freedom doesn’t just mean having a choice between any two options. Real freedom must include a good option – a viable choice.” And you’d be right.
The problem with human trafficking is that too often we are the one’s with the megaphones yelling into the bank from the outside. For young children and youth who are trapped in the dark world of sex trafficking, escaping to freedom often seems as dangerous as enduring the nightmare of human trafficking.
The dictionary defines the word freedom as:
1: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
2: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another
It is easy enough to understand the second definition of the word freedom. We understand what it might mean for someone enslaved in child sex trafficking to be set free from his or her captor. It’s more difficult to understand the first definition.
These young victims have no freedom. They daily experience a life with no real choices. Their choices are constrained. Their decisions are coerced. Real freedom for them means not just having a choice but having a real choice. Choosing between getting beaten nearly to death or sleeping with 15 men is not a real choice. Choosing between an escape attempt that could mean death or being sold night after night to married men with a dark secret is not a real choice.
Harriet Tubman, the famous abolitionist from which we take our name, was once quoted as saying “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Part of the enslavement of human trafficking is not knowing that there is a way out. Part of the darkness endured by sex trafficking victims is the lie that there is no hope for their future.
Araminta seeks not only to offer liberation from slavery for those enslaved in child sex trafficking, but also to offer a life of real choices, unconstrained options, and un-coerced decisions. We hope to offer trafficking survivors not just freedom from their trafficker but also freedom from a narrow future confined by their past.
In the month of July we celebrate Independence Day for our nation. This is a good time to consider what real freedom looks like to you. This July, what might real freedom feel like to those who have only known the bondage of modern day slavery? How can you join this mission to offer a holistic kind of freedom to those who can’t yet see a way out?