Written by Krista Ludwick, Second Life of Chattanooga Volunteer
It only took a few short hours of volunteering with Second Life for me to realize that walking with trafficking survivors back into the world is complicated. Easing someone who has suffered immensely back into the realities of rehabilitation, a broken housing system, a tough job market, and daily life is painstakingly slow.But over and over, hope emerges. Sometimes it is slow, fragile, and nearly unrecognizable. It can take the form of a woman’s small steps toward education or employment, or even just trips to the store and simple conversations. Or it can be in the form of ordinary, compassionate people volunteering a few hours to help. It can also look like donations – one gift card, one phone card, one monthly pledge, one large donation. But together, all the pieces start looking and feeling like hope. Little steps turn into bigger steps, and little hopes into bigger hopes – both for the survivors and for those helping them.Watching women engage the process is indescribable. It feels a bit like a collective holding of breath. With each new big or small hurdle they face, I find myself wondering if they will persevere. If so, how? Are they going to give up? What will be the tipping point? I’m embarrassed to say it still completely surprises me that they don’t give up. They have no tipping point. They want freedom, and they continue to take the brave steps that bring it. They don’t quit. And, if they ever do want to quit, we can’t let them.
The ultimate goal of creating awareness about trafficking is eradication of the problem—the hope that one day, no human would ever have to endure this type of oppression again. But the reality still is that women need help getting out, and then a lifetime of support to truly break free.
As general awareness on the issue has become more prevalent, rescue operations have become more prevalent. But Second Life’s team knows that the key is not just when the cycle of oppression ends with rescue, but when a totally new cycle of freedom can begin.
Our committed staff, volunteers, and collaborators work tirelessly towards awareness and prevention, as well as towards bringing practical, deep, lifelong hope to survivors. Becoming any part might unexpectedly restore your hope also. It certainly has mine.
To become a part, check out https://secondlifetn.org/get-involved/