The year after I graduated from college, I was given the opportunity to travel abroad for a year as a language and cultural intern in Morocco. I thought I would learn another culture and language and then get on with the business of becoming a famous historian. The passion and drive of my life took a drastic turn one afternoon when I met Samira. She was a middle class divorcée with a teenage daughter, who invited me to her home for tea one afternoon. When a young girl shuffled in the room to serve the tea, I naturally stood up to greet her, assuming she was the woman’s daughter. Samira flippantly said, “Oh, that’s not my daughter; that’s my maid.” In my surprise I fired off a hundred follow-up questions and discovered that the girl was about twelve years old, was purchased from her mother off of the street when she was about eight, slept on a mat on the floor in the back room, didn’t go to school, but was taught how to sew, cook, and clean. When the time was right she would be married off. This was considered a good life outcome, better and safer than living on the street. Samira seemed to believe that taking this girl in to work in her house was an act of charity worthy to be praised! As I walked home and saw a woman with a small filthy toddler begging on the streets, I began to think Samira might be right. Surely her “maid” was better off in the safety of her home than as a vulnerable street child, but something about it sat very wrong in my gut. The term human trafficking had not yet become an Oprah-effected buzz word, and I had no category to process this in.
After I returned to the states I began to pursue my “normal American” career dreams, but the memory of that girl never strayed far from my mind. Two years later I met a representative from IJM who shared about modern day slavery and what was being done domestically and around the world. I knew I could not continue to live in the world as though this wasn’t happening. I became an awareness advocate in the United States, and I am thankful to see the growth in advocacy and awareness domestically. Of course a great amount of work remains to be done in the U.S., but my heart kept going back to that little girl in Morocco.
Eventually I returned to Morocco and was saddened to discover that not only did domestic slavery continue to be a cultural norm, but go-betweens from other countries were actively and successfully recruiting Moroccans for both sexual and labor exploitation. Traffickers were freely entering into the country from the south and trafficking sub-Saharan Africans into Europe using Morocco as a holding pen for women awaiting false paper work. Each of these phenomena requires an army of advocates fighting to tear down these destructive forces on every society, and yet there is still but a small choir of voices crying out against this evil. A large media campaign has brought awareness and official denouncement of the practice of purchasing little maids—and yet every year we hear reports of girls 12, 13 and 14 years old being killed at the hands of cruel owners who worked them far past their physical capabilities. These deaths are a call to war—a war against injustice and a battle for lives. Every person is a unique gift to his or her community and to the world as a whole. Slavery in any form is a blight on every society. Only when we all come together to shine lights of truth into the darkness we cannot afford to ignore, will we see these girls and boys, men and women thrive and grow into who they were created to be—free people.
Hi! I truly cannot believe I get to share with you a little about myself from this position. I am humbled to be leading a movement that I have been passionate about since my first trip to Africa 13 years ago. I now have lived in Morocco for 7 years, and look forward with wonder to however much longer God has me and my family here. I have an incredible husband who makes everything in life an adventure, and two stunningly unique and precious little girls whom I’ve have the privilege of being home with the past four years.
I am highly motivated by social change. The chance each of us has to make a difference in the people around us, specifically the people who may not have the opportunity to speak up for themselves. I have had the privilege to work in non-profits in the U.S. and internationally with prostitutes, drug addicts, refugees, homeless, and at-risk youth and women. Through it all, I am convinced we cannot keep silent when others around us are in bondage. Human trafficking is our modern day slavery, it isn’t just a physical bondage but a mental, emotional, and spiritual prison. Our hope at BFA is to bring freedom to the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners. We have a fire to connect others who have the same desires to help the marginalized and unnoticed to the fight for freedom. Humans are not solely motivated by selfish gain, we long for community, we long for connections, and we want to give to others, sometimes we just don’t know how.