Some days, the stories seem too extreme to be true.
In recent weeks, Blue Dragon rescued two sisters from a brothel in Myanmar. These brothels are the worst of the worst, away from the reach of law enforcement and run by cruel gangsters. Escaping them is exceptionally difficult.
Our operation to find the sisters, aged 22 and 26, took weeks. Getting them back to Vietnam took weeks more.
The women are massively relieved to be home now, although deeply traumatised from their experience. They had simply wanted to find a job to support their family; they had no idea what danger they were in.
The trafficker who sold them had seemed like a friend and was so helpful… Up until the moment they were beaten and enslaved. A terrifying experience that will take years to recover from.
As part of our assistance to victims of human trafficking, Blue Dragon offers legal representation. We can stand in court on behalf of the victim as their trafficker is prosecuted.
And so last week we were in court on behalf of a girl named May, who was trafficked at age 13. Three traffickers took her to China and sold her to be a surrogate mother. May’s job was to bear children for men who wanted a family but didn’t have a wife.
It takes a lot to shock me these days, but I too was shocked by this case. I can’t imagine how any person could sell a child for any purpose, let alone for such a dehumanising use as surrogacy.
Justice was served; the traffickers will spend up to 28 years in prison. But that does not even begin to compensate for the harm that they have done.
Extreme – but unusual?
Cases like these are fairly common at Blue Dragon. After all, this dark corner of life is where we have chosen to work. These are very specifically the cases, and the people, we are here to help.
And these are the stories that are most likely to make their way into the headlines or go viral online.
But it isn’t quite right to say that these cases are typical.
Blue Dragon does deal with them regularly – even daily – in our work. But we also deal with many more cases that give reason for hope.
Like the teen boy who grew up in poverty but is now studying English in Australia.
Or the father who, with some counseling and support, was able to express his emotions to his child for the very first time.
Or the young woman who was a street kid at age 15 but is now completing her university degree.
Choosing our focus
People like these are all around us. You and I pass them in the street each day and never even know what’s below the tip of their iceberg.
They might not grab the headlines, but their stories are equally important.
It’s important to see these extreme cases. We must face them, because they are a part of our world. But we shouldn’t let them overwhelm us.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” To put it another way: It may seem like everything is terrible, but in the long run there’s always hope.
What matters most is that each of us does our part to bring that hope to life: to care for others, to stand up for what’s right.
Amidst these extraordinary extremes, we must remember: even in darkness, our brightest moments emerge from tales of resilience, growth, and compassion.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll be interested to listen to this recent interview on The Good Life with Australian MP Andrew Leigh.