Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Upcoming Anti-Trafficking Documentary

This site describes the upcoming documentary featuring Iana Matei and other abolitionists. It also provides a wealth of information and links.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Joy Morris: Her Special Interest in Anti-Trafficking

by Joy Morris

Hello Everyone,

I’m Joy Morris and I’ll be communicating with you through the blog each week. I hope what I have to share will encourage you to involve yourself in the fight against human trafficking.

To tell you a little about myself….I grew up in the South. I came from a family of four girls (I know my poor dad, lol) As I grew up I got married and tried to have children, but my pregnancies produced only miscarriages. I went so far as to do In Vitro Fertilization. After another miscarriage I decided it was time to adopt. I adopted my daughter from the Ukraine and she has been the light of my life from the time her tiny fingers curled around mine. Today, as a teen, her not so tiny fingers don't aways curl around mine. They don't need to. We're permanently linked in the bonds of mother and daughter with all the challenges and joys those bonds entail.

So how does all of this tie into the human trafficking issue? This is how. If my daughter wouldn’t have been adopted, she could very well have been a part of a vicious cycle of trafficking and forced prostitution. Girls from the orphanages in the Ukraine are turned out onto the streets at 13 to 16 years of age with minimal education. These girls, without family ties, are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers. My daughter’s destiny could have led her down that road.  Instead, my inability to have a child brought us together.

While not being able to physically mother a child brought me emotional pain, it’s because of this pain that my daughter now grows up in a loving home, provided with opportunities for education and tools to aid her in securing a future.

Human trafficking hits home with me. I want girls to see that they can make a better life for themselves--that they have a lot of people standing behind them to assist them as they move forward to succeed in life. 

This week, take a moment and contemplate: What needs do you have in your life? Is there any way that your needs could be instrumental in providing hope for victims of human trafficking? What contacts have you made because of your needs? Could your needs aid you in any way in communicating the anti-trafficking message to others?

We'd love to hear back from you after you have thought about these questions. Especially if they lead you into new ways of communicating the anti-trafficking message, or to take action steps to help at-risk girls.

Have a wonderful week!
Joy's website:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Read Tomorrow's Post by Joy Morris

Tomorrow contributing blogger, Joy Morris, will be posting to this site.  Learn how after spending many years in the entertainment industry, as a model, actress, and TV Host, Joy became an anti-trafficking advocate. Joy will share her unique motivation that led to her outcry to "Free The Slaves!"  Don't miss Joy's inspiring story.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Pray For Those Enslaved In Forced Labor And Forced Prostitution

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. As you give thanks, please pray for the release of children and young adults who are forced daily into acts against their will.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creative Process Promotes Hope For Trafficked Victim

"In the beginning God created..." Genesis 1:1

Somehow, it doesn't surprise me that a first sign of becoming healthy and whole again for a trafficked victim would come within the creative process. This is exactly what happened for Monica. The following poem conveys her courageous struggle as she makes a new beginning following her escape from human traffickers.  While the poem is not a direct translation, it  expresses her perceptions and sensations as she moves beyond the cycle of modern-day slavery and sexual abuse.

Forgiven Wind

I stand,
braced against forgiven wind,

 Layers of dirt
Slapped on me,

 by multitudes of unclean hands,
provide defense

against the Titanic Rain
beating on my path.

  Filth slides away
with my skin and

  I stand bloodied, exposed,
 braced against
forgiven wind.

 Icy hands I don’t feel
swipe at tears 
that aren’t there.

My Closed eyelids
hide darkness.


Hope flies in on forgiven wind.
She swoops down
  landing beside me,

She strokes
my breast.

I shove her away.
She reaches out again.

I seize her by the neck, 
 and slam her
to the ground.

She escapes,
grabs me around my chest
and slams me

 into ice packed earth. 
She straddles my broken body 

Tears escape my eyes.
Her breath penetrates my flesh,

It slows my heart...
I lay motionless 

 Sleep overtakes me.  
Night slips into morning,

Clouded by my future 
my past.

Yet I wakeI rise…

 I stand,
 braced against forgiven wind,

a frozen body
 sheltering Hope’s song.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God's Little Girls (continued)

Dread rose like lava I needed to outrun. It swallowed my joy.  
I studied every form of “spiritual warfare” imaginable. I rebuked this and I bound that. I claimed Mariana back from the enemy.  I blamed and I exclaimed, “What happened? Why isn’t any of this working? Why aren’t you doing something, God?”
I go around and snatch these girls from evil. It’s your job to keep them safe.  My heart is broken. I can’t take it.” I turned to the wall and I cried until I had no more tears.
         When I finally raised my head, a card pasted on a mirror caught my eye.
         “A broken…heart I will not ignore.”
         Before, this page had served as a reminder of something the girls needed to recover from the awful things the traffickers had done to them. Now, I needed this message as much as the girls.  I’d seen so much pain and so many poor choices in the past years. They’d slit at my soul until their memories seeped from a dark space inside. “God, my heart! It’s broken! I can’t take it anymore.”
          The phone rang. I looked at the clock. It was 1: A.M.
 Twelve years ago, I had picked up the phone about this time of night and it was the police asking me to come bring clothes to the hospital for three prostitutes who had Syphilis. The prostitutes turned out to be young girls. That was the call that led to my opening the safe house. Now I couldn’t stop crying.  Should I even pick up the phone? What bad news might be at the other end of the line?  It might be a request to pick up another girl. I just can’t right now.
          I finally answered the phone.  At first, no one said anything. Then a sob came through the line. “Iana, it’s me, Mariana. Will you come and pick me up? ”
         “Where are you? What happened?”
         The answers didn’t matter near as much as the fact that she was OK. She wasn’t dead and the traffickers hadn’t taken her.
         This experience taught me a bit about prayer.  While my voice is important and I use it to fight against injustice, when it comes to matters of the heart and spirit, my voice doesn’t have the power to change much. I can claim, I can bind, and I can command.  I can do 12 steps of prayer or 7 steps of prayer, but none of this is what moves the heart of God. He shows compassion to me when my heart is broke by the things that break his heart. My father in heaven cares when I hurt. 
No matter what noise I make to fight human trafficking I’m really just a little girl with a broken heart. But, if I’m still and I’m quiet long enough, like Mariana, I find myself tingling with anticipation of what can be. In this way, I move forward to fight the good fight…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God's Little Girls

            The phone rang.  It was the night shift social worker from the safe house.
“Iana, it’s Gabriella—Mariana---again.” Between her clipped words and my interrupted sleep, that’s all I made out.
““Slow down. I can’t understand you.” 
“Mariana…threatening Susana… with a knife.”
I called security and rushed to the shelter.  We managed to talk Mariana into giving us the knife about the same time security arrived. 
I shook my head. “I can’t allow you to disrupt the healing process of the other girls with your threats”
            Mariana stared back at me and her chin tilted up. Her mouth dragged at the corners and her eyes squinted. Being repeatedly raped in adolescent years doesn’t do a lot to develop a pleasant personality, but Mariana went beyond unpleasant. She was dangerous.
I made up my mind. For the rest of the girls to feel safe, Mariana had to go.  I filed paperwork to move her to Gaesti, a juvenile delinquent institution.
In other countries, time spent in juvenile detention might not be such a big deal. In Romania, its stigma could be as bad as that of having been a teen-aged prostitute.
            The juvenile institutions here imprison youth without dealing with their mental or emotional issues. When they reenter society, they end up back in prison or they do something careless and wind up maimed or dead. No one wants to train them for a vocation. They’re considered a waste.
            I filed papers for Mariana to go to Gaisti, but found she would have to continue at the shelter until the court processed her file.  In the meantime, we dealt with her outbursts and lived in uneasy watchfulness.
Then one day she came downstairs fully dressed and headed for the door.
“I’m going to school.”
“What did you say?”
She looked like any other schoolgirl. Her shirt didn’t expose the tops of her breasts as it usually did and her pants offered breathing room. 
I tried to act nonchalant. “OK, so don’t forget your coat.”
            She nodded, took her coat and went for the door. Her friends wouldn’t be up at this hour. The clubs wouldn’t be open.  She might really be going to school.
            Each day after that she attended school. She didn’t threaten the other girls and she did her chores. The change was so dramatic it was as if someone else had taken over her body.
            “What happened to you Mariana? What made you start going to school and being nice to the other girls? Why did you stop threatening the social workers and start asking how you could help around here?”  She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
My eyes held her gaze. “I worked with you and I worked with you. I applied every psychological method I knew in an effort to get you to a place where you could live with others and work toward a future. But you weren’t like the other girls. You refused to cooperate. Were you frightened because you were being sent to Gaesti? Is that why you changed?
            She shook her head. “If you remember I got worse for a while. Nothing mattered. I knew things would always be the same. No one would ever accept me or love me.  I didn’t care if I lived or died.  What difference would it make if I went to Gaesti?
            “What then? What motivated you?”
“Even though I acted so awful, one day I decided to pray.  I prayed because I didn’t want to hurt. As I lay there, prickling, like pins and needles penetrated my skin. It tingled up and down my spine.  My stomach that rumbled all the time quieted. The heaviness in my chest loosened.  Like a block, it rose and dissolved.”
“Warmth spread from my chest up into my head and down to the tips of my toes.  I tingled. A stream of light shined through an open window. For the first time since I had met the trafficker I fell completely to sleep and slept until morning.
“When I woke, I no longer resented the furniture claiming it came from rich people with too much money who didn’t know what else to do with it.  I viewed the room as a space provided for me.
“The walls that had made the room feel like a prison now looked like a private place where I could connect with the light. I wanted to stay in the room. Yet, I wanted to make a future. The first step would be school… I had to finish school.
            “I dressed and went downstairs. It was good you didn’t ask too many questions. I wouldn’t have known how to explain what had happened to me.  When I came home that night and laid back in bed, the needles pricked and tingled again.  This happened night after night.
“My skin tingled when I thought of what could happen for me.  I saw how Louisa got a job. She goes to school and she has friends.  She seems normal now. I heard of Christina who went through training, got a job, met a man and later married. I remembered how she stopped by the shelter and showed us her two daughters.
Mariana smiled. “One day, I’ll have a job. Someday, I might even meet a man who will fall in love with me.
            “I was so mad about you no club dancing and no alcohol rule but now I get it. You were trying to protect me.
“When I go to my room at night, I wait for the tingling, that presence. It helps me know that I’m much more than a doomed girl. I had some horrible days, but I won’t have a horrible life.”
             Months went by and Mariana grew more self-assured.
 Then, one day she didn’t return from school. Or the day after that. Did her trafficker find her? Did he kill her? Did something happen to cause her distress? Did she run away?
            Dread rose like lava I needed to outrun.  (continued next week)