“I’ve learned the answer to that question through my experience with other people who have had to live in that darkness.” –Tim Ballard
Learning that a dark world of child sex trafficking exists is not an easy concept to swallow. Yet, many feel a pull towards fighting it. The question then becomes, how do you fight in such a dark world while still maintaining hope and light? The answer to this question is something that we hope to share with you throughout the month of November as we gear up for our Giving Tuesday initiative.
Giving Tuesday is the global day of giving. You’ve probably heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but did you know that Tuesday, November 28th is Giving Tuesday? It is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season. This year we want to kick off the giving season by raising enough money to help fund an aftercare home for our survivors. In addition, this November we want to share with you ways that you can “Shine Your Light” and find hope in the fight against trafficking.
How Tim Ballard Shines a Light on the Dark World of Trafficking
This is something that Tim Ballard wrestled with when he first was exposed to the dark world of child pornography. When his boss first asked him to be a part of the child crimes unit in the government, he and his wife’s first reaction was to say no: because they had kids.
After spending a lot of time pondering the issue, their perspective changed.
They said yes: because they had kids. “For the same reason I thought, ‘You can’t do this’, that we have kids, that’s the very reason I need you to go in there and tell them you are going to do this,” Katherine Ballard, Tim’s wife said. “We know what innocence this is. We know what a child’s life is supposed to look like. If there are kids out there that don’t have anything close to that…how can we say no?”
From that moment on, the Ballard family would learn to maintain hope and light in their lives, despite the dark world Tim worked in.
Tim Ballard says, “I’ve learned the answer to that question through my experience with other people who have had to live in that darkness.”
We often share the story of Gardy, the little boy who went missing in Haiti. When Tim heard about this story, he contacted Gardy’s father Guesno to learn more about the case. Because of the limitations of U.S. government officials working in other countries, Tim couldn’t do anything to save Gardy.
So he started Operation Underground Railroad. Starting a private NGO would allow him to work with the Haitian police to find Gardy. With only a small lead under their belts, the new O.U.R. team and the Haitian police raided an orphanage that allegedly was trafficking kids out the back door.
Guesno waited eagerly to hear if they found his son.
The operation was successful in saving 28 kids and arresting the traffickers. But Gardy was not found. Tim had to break the news.
“I sat down with him and I said, I’m so sorry Guesno, he wasn’t there,” Tim said to Guesno.
Guesno put his head down in mourning, but only for about 10 seconds. Tim was confused when his head popped back up so fast with a smile on his face.
“You wouldn’t have come down here if my son hadn’t been kidnapped,” Guesno said. “Your team wouldn’t have been able to get those 28 kids and liberate them. If I have to lose my son, so that those 28 kids could be liberated, then that’s a burden that I am willing to bear.”
The question still rings: but how? How do you maintain hope and light that Guesno has?
The day after this operation, Guesno marched down to the police station. He told them that he and his wife would raise ANY of the kids that were just liberated. The Haitian government brought 8 of the 28 kids to Guesno’s place, and he has been raising them since.
“And this man is happy,” Tim says. “What I learned from him in that situation is that what keeps the light on in the darkness is service.”
Fighting Together Increases Our Capacity
As Tim often states, there is a scientific principle that says that darkness cannot exist where there is light. When we serve others we spark light and chase out the darkness of the world of trafficking.
Matt Osborne, O.U.R. SVP of Rescue & Recovery, says that he “keeps the light” by focusing on the long-term perspective. He says as a society, we have made great strides in fighting human trafficking and we are moving in the right direction as we focus on spreading awareness of the issue. When we go outside of ourselves to serve, we shine our light, and the darkness dissipates.
“Even though we can’t save as many as we want to right now, we are trying and we’ve saved a lot, and we’re going to continue to save a lot,” Osborne says. “The more resources we are able to get, the more we will be able to save.”
Our capacity to rescue more children and help arrest more traffickers has been increasing significantly as we are able to partner with more organizations and help train more law enforcement teams.
We can fight trafficking together.
Throughout the month of November, we will be sharing our #GivingTuesday initiative to help fund an aftercare home for our survivors.
We invite you to follow along in our journey as we share stories of survivors and how aftercare is being provided in countries all over the world.
Thanks to generous O.U.R. donors, all funds raised on #GivingTuesday will be matched.
We might have some other surprises for you along the way as well! Make sure to mark your calendar and join the fight & shine a light with us on November 28th.
What can YOU Do?
Prevention is key in the fight against trafficking. Read 3 Ways to Teach Your Kids Internet Safety here.
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