The Beekeeper

January now officially kicks each new year off with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month! And as such, it seems like appropriate a time as ever to catch up on some book reviews, namely “The Beekeeper”.

Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

This book is a true story, and one filled with true horrors. With that being said, I want to share a quote from a book called “Slave Stealers” by Tim Ballard before getting into this.

“Do you have children, Tim?”

“Yes,” I responded, my eyes matching the intensity I was reading in his.

“Then let me ask you something….” He hesitated. He must have known the question was somewhat cruel. But he went forward with it anyway.

“Could you get in bed and sleep at night, knowing that one of your children’s beds was empty?”I knew the answer was no, but I couldn’t get the word out, as instant tears and emotion blocked my ability to vocalize. I just shook my head.

“Slave Stealers”, pg 56, Tim Ballard

Books like this can be hard to digest, but Tim Ballard argues that if we don’t learn how to make it personal- imagining our own children and recognizing that the victims are real children of other heartbroken parents – and act as if our own families and loved ones were on the line, then this criminal market will never end. So in the parts when your heart and tear ducts start to swell at the same rate, and you think you’d rather just not finish, consider for a minute why you feel that way and what you can do. It might just be a defining moment in the start to someone’s rescue.

“The Beekeeper” is based on true stories from Abdullah Shrem, a beekeeper working to help liberate Yazidi women kidnapped by Daesh (aka ISIS), who through many means and people escape. He tells their stories in hopes of bringing light to the problem and to “rally the troops,” so to speak, against ISIS.

But for all the horrors, this book is very interestingly written, leaving no words to the author alone, but always quoting verbatim the conversations she had with the beekeeper and others involved in the rescues or being rescued.

If you’d like to learn more about the author and Abdullah Shrem (the beekeeper), then you can also check out this PBS News Hour Report and interview with her!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Uniting the best of humanity to take out The Evil Dragon – Slavery

Let me start by saying – WELCOME TO NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS MONTH!!

I have procrastinated even beginning to write this post for a while now, because it’s one of those things that I just don’t know if I have the words for. I want to say it perfectly, passionately and appropriately for any audience. While my main intention in creating this blog was to share the most fun, engaging and uplifting aspects I could learn about different people and cultures, I feel like I can’t avoid also occasionally acknowledging the places that need hope and light the most – the places where light is dimmed. What difference would it make if I only spread more good ideas into already decent homes? Some good would come, to be sure. But what if I could spread good ideas that became movements and changes in the places that need action?

Child slavery. Human trafficking. Abuse. Torments that my simple life have never been plagued with, but that make my gut wrench. Those are the places that need our reach most.

And what a better time to learn how to act than now – Human Trafficking Awareness Month!!! Check out what the U.S. Department of Defense has to say about the prevention of human trafficking efforts at this link!

Here are just a couple screen shots of what you will see, in addition to stories, articles, in-depth statistical reports and videos this month on the DOD’s website:

Unfortunately, this (trafficking, or slavery) is a type of culture that lurks in the darkest alleys and holes of our beautiful Earth. And we can help stop it! G.K. Chesterton has inspired me since middle school with this quote:

“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

We are not children any more, and our dragons don’t breathe fire or have scales anymore. I would say they’re much scarier now. Hopefully, we have the confidence to wield the metaphorical swords we have been given to protect ourselves and others. And because this culture is not a fairy tale, we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore. We need to stop speaking about it in metaphors. For too many people today, slavery is their reality. They are sold for the worst things imaginable and left to believe there is no good thing left to hope for.

Let me highlight again a statistic real quick from the DOD’s main page:

“4.5 MILLION people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation… 20%” of human trafficking victims are children.”

I think those stats warrants a good ol’, “Devil, we know thy name,” don’t you?

We can stop this! And we must. Because those slaves are not just poor Romanian, Algerian, Columbian, or Syrian children. They are from Phoenix, New York City, London, Salt Lake City, Ontario. They are neighbors, friends, and family no matter where you are from!

But how do we do it?

As I’m learning, it’s up to you to decide how to face the dark. How loud do you feel to yell about it, and how can you make your voice heard? That’s a first step. Another first step is to learn about it. Yes, I am giving two first steps. Step 1A and 1B, if you will. As we learn about it, we can more effectively talk about it.

The best sources of learning come from experts in the middle of it all, and I have heard of nobody more in the thick of taking down human trafficking than Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad.

I had no idea who Tim Ballard was in 2016, when I attended an event he spoke at. I was there to hear a couple of other favorite inspirational speakers with my mom, sister and aunt; but Tim Ballard’s talk is what I have not stopped thinking about since. In the past two years I have devoured his books, followed his Insta account, and watched interviews, films, and news reports about his accomplishments in freeing child slaves around the world.

Before I get too deep into the topic though, I ask you to do the same. Find an expert to learn about this from. Then, come back for more in-depth discussions in upcoming posts this and next month on the topic. At the bottom of this post, and in each future post on this topic, you will find a few suggestions from me about where to learn more. As I said, it’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so the info should be in your face wherever you go right now. My next post will even recommend a favorite fast food place where you might be surprised to be invited to look around and donate to the cause.

From one of Tim Ballard’s own books, here is a list of organizations that helped me expand my resources to learn more about the issue and how I can help:

The Polaris Project, International Justice Mission, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, EPCAT, Shared Hope International, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Love 146, 3Strands, Fight the New Drug are all listed on this page.

Now, I want to make it clear I have not been asked by anyone but my conscience to write about O.U.R. (I would be in a hospitable recovering from shock if Tim Ballard had assigned me this project himself) and I sincerely hope that you will follow along with me as I share my thoughts, surprises, updates, and reviews on human trafficking efforts around the world. I really believe that one of the most basic human rights is freedom to do as we please. While so many adult prejudices often hold us back from granting that freedom to everyone, I hope that real changes can start as we begin in a place we already feel passionate – protecting kids. Every kid. So check out these links to learn more, and follow me to see more posts about the efforts you can make and the organizations you should support!

And please, please comment and share your own thoughts on trafficking prevention, effective organizations to support, and other suggestions on how to eradicate this evil from otherwise beautiful places! What will you do this month to learn about and act on these facts? Share/comment below!