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The Beginning of the Beginning

Last Thursday night, I was on my way out the door to attend the final night of Araminta Freedom Initiative’s first ever Awake-Equip-Mobilize Training course. This was to be the last night of a five-week training for people who wanted to join Araminta in our mission to end domestic minor sex trafficking in the Baltimore region.

As a dad, sometimes it’s hard to leave the house in the evening knowing that I won’t be home to tuck my sons into bed. I enjoy our bedtime routine of reading books and saying “I love you” as much as my boys do. So, before I left I wanted to explain to my oldest son, who is almost three years old, where I was going and why I was going there.

I turned to my son and said, “I have to go to a meeting tonight, buddy.”
He asked, “Where are you going Daddy?”
“I have some friends that I have to meet with. We all made a group and this group helps save kids from bad guys,” I explained. “What bad guys?”

Trying to explain human trafficking to a child who isn’t even three years old was proving to be more difficult than I had first thought but I knew I had to try. “Well, there are some bad guys out there who want to hurt little kids. So my friends and I made this group that helps save the kids from the bad guys.”

My son thought for a few seconds and then made a reference to one of his favorite movies, Cars 2. “Bad guys like Grem and Acer?”  I smiled and said, “Yes, just like Grem and Acer from Cars. They tried to hurt Lightening McQueen in the movie. And so my group of friends get together to try to make sure little kids don’t get hurt by the bad guys.”  My son hopped down from the chair he was in and thought about our conversation for a couple minutes. Then, out of nowhere, he turned to me and asked, “Daddy, one day when I get bigger, can I be a part of your group and can I help save the kids from the bad guys?”

As you can imagine, my heart melted. My wife, hearing all of this from the next room, came in to see the rest of the conversation. I said, “Yeah, buddy, I would love for you to be a part of our group when you get bigger.”  My son replied, “And you’ll be so proud of me?”  At this point I was overwhelmed with love for my kid and had to give him hug. “Yeah, buddy,” I said. “I would be so proud of you.”

It was in this moment that my son reminded me that the commitment to end domestic minor sex trafficking in Baltimore is a generational commitment. One day, my son will pick up where I leave off. I have to wonder what the state of trafficking in the Baltimore region will be like the day he joins Araminta Freedom Initiative. How many girls will be rescued? How many children will be set free from the slavery of trafficking?

On Thursday, April 26, 2012, Araminta Freedom Initiative graduated 51 Certified Volunteers from its Awake-Equip-Mobilize Training course. After attending the first ever Araminta Action Night on February 19th in Towson, Maryland, these individuals were awakened to the devastating reality of domestic minor sex trafficking right here in the Baltimore region.

In many ways, this first class of dedicated volunteers is the beginning of the beginning. The scope of domestic minor sex trafficking is so large that the need for volunteers is enormous and the commitment must be a generational one. The hope of Araminta is that this will be the beginning of thousands of Certified Volunteers who will help bring an end to human trafficking in Baltimore. This is the beginning of the beginning. But one day, years from now, my son will be able to look back and say that this is when the tide of trafficking turned and when the hope for thousands of trafficked children was born.

Mark Stephenson, Church Engagement Coordinator

To join our next training this fall, contact training@aramintafreedom.org to be put on our contact list.