“What Can Be Done About This?”

By Travis September 22nd, 2017

"She had been sold to extended family members who owned that junkyard and who now owned her."

She had not only suffered extreme forced labor but sexual abuse as well- which is very common for children who are labor trafficked and who are completely unprotected.  The Lord used that experience to change the trajectory of my life.  I will never forget the pain in my heart, meeting the eyes of that little girl and fully realizing the hopelessness she faced in her prison of slavery.  

Recently I walked into another junkyard a landfill on the Thai/Myanmar border which is home to hundreds of Burmese families who are foraging for recyclables in order to survive.  Our Thai Rapha House Director, along with some of our Thai social workers, had been making research trips to the area after ongoing reports of trafficking incidents involving vulnerable Burmese children.  

When I walked into the landfill and saw the makeshift homes that the Burmese refugees had constructed from cardboard, bamboo, and tarping, and I witnessed firsthand the children who are living among the mountains of trash, my heart broke once again.  I covered my nose to alleviate the stench, and instantly met the eyes of a woman about my age who was standing in front of her tarp covered home.  I vowed not to cover my nose again.  

I thought about the lack of privacy and dignity in the landfill.  No toilets.  No showers. 

I thought about the lack of opportunity for the toddlers and small children who were navigating the trash with bare feet.  I pondered the danger for these vulnerable children whose parents were working somewhere in the landfill.  I watched as a trash truck made its way through the trash, and I witnessed as dozens of people ran to where the truck was dumping its massive load- a pregnant woman standing beneath the waterfall of filth from the truck to have the first chance at gathering the plastics, aluminum, and glass.  

I began to ask the Lord, “What can be done about this?” 

- Stephanie Freed, Co-Founder & Executive Director

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