Operation Underground Railroad is always looking for new approaches of intervention to help trafficked victims. O.U.R. Director of Prevention and Rehabilitation Ed Smart and O.U.R. jump team members sponsored and participated in a block party in the Red Light District of Mexico City last week.
The Red Light District in Mexico City
By Ed Smart
As we drove down Sullivan Street, it appeared questionable whether enough working girls would come to make the event worthwhile. O.U.R., along with 50 volunteers from a Christian ministry, carried tables, chairs, and a delicious dinner down to the street corner where the event would be held.
A festive Mariachi band dressed in bright orange led the way. Many of the volunteers and O.U.R. members brought roses to invite the girls to the dinner. One by one they came.
This was not a rescue in the sense that the Jump Team goes in and rescues the victims and arrests the perpetrators. It’s purpose was simply to let these girls know there are people who care about them and they can escape this type of life if they want to – and we are here to help.
Gift bags put together by volunteers in Salt Lake City, Utah included information on how to get out with a help number and a little compensation to keep the pimps from beating them.
One of the women that joined in the outreach had previously been trafficked on that very street for 16 years. We witnessed embraces from her old friends as she invited them to join us.
In a short time the dinner tables were full with approximately 60 girls joining the event. Words of encouragement transformed their faces to smiles as they found a helping hand.
The street emptied as the pimps looked on in shock. They usually stand about 10 to 12 feet behind the girls making sure their revenue stream keeps coming. Instead we witnessed them driving by, stopping and even getting out for a minute or two to take in what was happening. It was very apparent that slavery still exists in the world especially here on Sullivan Street.
The girls enjoyed food, music, dancing and a gift bag. The end results are yet to be seen, except for the understanding that the girls witnessed that people care and that they are something more than a commodity and a slave.
Written by: Cheryl L. Karr