I asked a former Kazakh student of mine to tell me about the trip she recently took to visit two shelters for victims of human trafficking. She went with bundles of clothes and toys and good intentions. I am sure she went through a range of emotions seeing the victims in the shelters along with the administrators. I did not expect to read the following update, but then again, Aigerim is a practical realist.
Dear Friend, I was gone for two days but it felt like a whole week, so much happened on our road trip. I know you asked me what I learnt and felt from my visit to the human trafficking shelters in Kazakhstan.
Yes, I can retell the whole journey with all the details, describing the heads of shelters and ways they run the business as well as adding more happy and sad stories. It looks like human trafficking and anti-trafficking campaigns are well-established, interdependent profitable businesses. One employs the victim, the other rescues. Both earn money. For me, hearing stories and retelling them to other people becomes a daily routine, a useless one.
Sorry, but you wanted to know what I felt. I felt tired and fed up with the way things work here in KZ, the way one promotes projects and finances it. For instance, some people used to help migrants from neighboring countries to return back home since 1997. Later they started a NGO and looked for investment to open the shelter and become partners with different international organizations, win democracy grants and write projects to justify their activity. To survive, the NGO works in several directions.
Right, there is nothing wrong with it, but I just realized that opening shelters and fundraising for them will not solve the problem of human trafficking. People who are lucky to be rescued from slavery, in most cases, get into trouble again and again increasing the statistics. The real action needed is to prevent slavery in the first place.
The head of international organization made a presentation about human trafficking and migration for University students and teachers, where he remarked that the solution is education and migration law reform.
For me, spreading a word about human trafficking is not enough; there must be a big change in mentality and thinking of ordinary people. We should struggle with the economic reasons that force people into slavery. Until then all the actions are in vain.
Aigerim, a Discouraged Abolitionist
I recognize that my student is probably suffering battle fatigue but it is true, I have heard this before. Those who are victims have so many complications trying to get back to the normal life, no matter how rotten that was. Sadly, they can slide back in the pit they were rescued from. Some are drug addicts, alcoholic or were so in need of money that now they don’t know anything else but to be sex slaves.
As a Christian abolitionist, I know the only way these victims can be helped to conquer their problems is to know the forgiveness of Christ and to claim that forgiveness for those who put them through hell. I’m sure there is much anger and rage about their physical condition and economic situation once freed. Certainly those who are in charge of the shelters and are a part of the Kazakh mentality and society cannot break free from their own financial difficulties.
If I read between the lines of what Aigerim wrote, there is corruption she may have witnessed when they visited these shelters. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I’m not surprised given the climate of the economy in Kazakhstan. I agree with Aigerim also that the mentality about slavery must be abolished in the land of Kazakhstan. Sadly, it starts in every traditional Kazakh home where there is a mother-in-law lording it over a young daughter-in-law who is learning how to function in her new household, to please the men. If this is true in the home on a micro level, what should be reflected in the Kazakh society as a whole? Slavery mentality continues to those who have the power above you.
Aigerim, do not be discouraged! Education is certainly the key but also knowing about grace and forgiveness because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross is the other crucial key to breaking this evil in the beautiful land of Kazakhstan. His blood covers a multitude of sins. I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to the Roman citizens in 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Keep at it Aigerim, do NOT give up!!! Do not lose heart! Whatever you write will hopefully impact others into action, this is part of the education of making people aware of the problem. Solutions will follow…