I have been promising this post for over a month, uh make that two months (the date on this post is when I started writing it), to various people so I am finally getting this done! Having this post half done for so long has kept me from blogging many other things. This post is going to end up a bit long, but for the skimmers out there I promise a lot of photos. For the rest of you, grab a cup of tea and have a read.
As many of you know in March I took a trip down to Mexico City with iEmpathize. If you haven't heard of iEmpathize before now please take second to follow the link and read about who they are and what they are up to.
When I volunteered for the trip I really had not a clue what we would be doing, but I knew I wanted to get involved with this organization and I was feeling called to commit myself to the trip.
Our team, composed of 7 people - representing 7 local faith communities - came together, meeting as a group for the first time when we all arrived at the airport. We left the US on Monday, February 28th and returned on Sunday, March 6th. We spent some time getting to know each other on our way down to Mexico City and getting settled in at the hotel.
That first evening, Brad, the President/Founder of iEmpathize, shared with us the "plan" (in quotes because when one is traveling a plan is always tentative) for the week. We would be taking the iEmpathize multimedia exhibit to various locations through out the city and, on the side, trying to lay out some plans for upcoming summer trips.
The exhibit itself (shown above) is designed to provide information and a personal connection to human trafficking... to move people from sympathy to empathy. This is done by having striking photographs, artifacts from the lives of those who were trafficked, and an a video discussing the real issues. The video features the story of a rescued girl, and Mexican congress woman Rosi Orozco explaining hte current human trafficking issues in Mexico.
That first evening Brad also shared with us Psalm 10. It really helped my mind and heart come to a place where it could grasp that idea of what we were fighting for that week in the name of Christ's love and justice. Please take a moment to mediate on that passage, read it slowly, understand it.
Our first full day in the city we headed to the Mexican congress to set up the exhibit. iEmpathize works closely with Congresswoman Rosi Orozco, who started the safe home for girls rescued from sex trafficking, Camino a Casa. She was first an activist who decided she would be most effective in helping children by running for congress. This is the safe home that iEmpathize works to raise funds and awareness for in Mexico City.
It was important to share the exhibit at congress at this specific time because new laws were being proposed regarding sex trafficking. Rosi was working to pass laws that are more effective in prosecuting pimps and traffickers and keeping them in prison. The good news is the bill has passed their senate and moved on the house.
The exhibit was opened with a press conference and a ribbon cutting. Present was the First Lady of Cancun, the First Lady of Tijuana, the head of the Council for Tourism, Congresswoman Orozco, and one more person I am forgetting (sorry, that is why I shouldn't wait over a month to write this stuff up).
The iEmpathize exhibit was up for a day and half in the entry area of congress. We also sat in on a meeting where the former First Lady of Columbia explained how harsher human trafficking laws have taken effect in in Columbia and what that looks like now and how they are enforced.
We also spent a day at the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office works with the girls who want to prosecute their pimps and helps them fight their case.
I found the press conference that Congresswoman Orozco had at the Attorney General's Offices to be very interesting. She walked through the exhibit with the press explaining the stories behind nearly each artifact and photo.
The last two days our exhibit was up for the congregation from Casa Sobre La Roca to view. They had a conference that weekend and their weekly Sunday gathering. This organization works closely with Rosi and the safe home, but because it is so large it can be difficult to communicate to all the members. Seeing the exhibit helped to bring greater understanding and more information to this congregation.
During the week we also spent time with the girls from the safe home, ate wonderful food, and spent time getting to know the directors of the home. We worked on looking at hotels for next month's trips and did a little site seeing down town.
I feel the need to have a nice of wrap up for this post, but I don't have anything profound to say. Human trafficking is wrong, awful, and it DOES happen - more than most people are willing to recognize, and yes, even here in the US. You, reading this, have the ability to help fight it - whether with prayer, donating your time, donating your abilities, donating money, or educating others. Get the word out, we need to speak up for those whose voices are being silenced.