There is a Tibetan proverb that says, “On a long journey, you must die once.”
We fly home tomorrow. Yesterday, we said “goodbye” to our girls at the safe house and drove away, waving, with tears in our eyes. This was the death of the journey for me because this moment held both great pain and great purpose. To me, a person’s eyes are the windows into their soul, and when I looked into the eyes of the girls as I hugged them for the last time, I recognized and understood something for the first time. I realized that combating sex trafficking is incredibly extensive and broad; it is a crime that occurs around the world. But even though the problem seems overwhelming, we have to remember that what we are doing is not really about an “issue;” the Red Thread Movement is about people. Laughing with these girls, singing songs with them, comforting them as they cried showed me that even if all of our efforts thus far had been for just one of these girls, it would have been worth it. I have died to seeing sex trafficking as a faceless crime. We were staying in a small village the other day, and there was a newspaper article about a girl who had gone missing from there; she was most likely trafficked. I finally fully understood that these girls are daughters and sisters and friends. Some of them are now my friends, and that is why it was so painful to say “goodbye” to them. I love them. But I know that there is purpose in our leaving Nepal. Nearly 12,000 more women and girls from this country will be trafficked within this next year, and even though I do not know them personally and may never meet them, I love them too. And I believe that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
We are going home tomorrow with a mission, a mission of love and determination. Currently, the Red Thread Movement supports two border units and one safe house in Nepal. Our goal for this year is to open an additional border unit and two more safe houses, so that we will be funding a total of three border units and three safe houses. Each border unit rescues around four girls every day, and the safe houses house 20 girls each. The border units each require $800/month to operate, and each safe house, $1500/month. We are already working on a structure for the Red Thread Movement, expanding it to support these projects. We will not stop advocating for the girls in Nepal and around the world who are being abused and exploited until sex trafficking is ended. Will you join us? Put on a red bracelet, and wear the freedom of these girls on your arm!
One of the bands supporting the Red Thread Movement, Sent By Ravens, has a song whose lyrics encapsulate our journey in Nepal: “Love. Love is all we need. I came here with nothing, but I left with everything.” We came here with a passion to end sex trafficking in Nepal, and we are leaving with a love for these girls that now mean everything to us.