As we turn the page to May, I was reminded that in the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day in May. So I began to reflect on the work we are doing to end human trafficking from the lens of a mother and being a new grandmother.
As we hear about the circumstances that young people experience when they become victims of some form of human slavery, I know that we all react with some level of moral outrage, crushing sadness and desire to make a difference. When we layer in the fact that every victim is some mother’s child, the emotions become even more intense.
As I personally reflect on the issue with the lens of a mother, I am filled with emotions that I cannot even describe when I think of some mother’s having to choose one child over another when forced to give up one (or more) of their children to a trafficker in order to save the lives of their other children. I think of those examples when I hear of traffickers using young boys to support the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana. I think of those examples when I think of what civil war has done in many African countries, creating child soldiers. I have spoken to mothers who saw the damage done to their sons when they returned from those civil wars.
I cannot imagine being a mother whose daughter disappears only to be recruited or taken by some trafficker. I read stories about the unacceptable numbers of indigenous women in Minnesota alone who disappear from native lands.
Many years ago, I read Amy Tan’s book “The Joy Luck Club” and one of the stories was of a mother who was forced to leave one of her children under a tree as she was trying to flee China for a better home in the U.S. I remember crying for days after reading that-as I was a new mother at the time and could not comprehend having to make that choice.
When I question whether the work we are doing is making a difference, I am reminded that I would want others fighting for my children so I pick myself up and know that if I can make a difference in one person’s life, I am also supporting one mother who can be at peace.
So I hope that you can reflect on your own mothers and what they did to keep you safe.