"You know, I don't really want to do this," he told us. "I want to do ...well, like...what you guys are doing." Curious, we asked him what he thought we were doing- as we could have been perceived as randomly meandering around the red light district. "You know. Helping people," he replied. "I want to help people...like kids who don't have families."
We had made "friends" with more than one of the "fliers" as they are called- men and women working on the street to attract "clients" for the nightclubs and brothels. Despite their commitment to their jobs, many of these individuals were significantly more open and soft-hearted than one might imagine. Most really didn't want to be there doing what they were doing. Many had other hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their lives. "John" wanted to help people....kids.
However suspicious one might have the right to be in reading "John's" imaginary job application for a camp counselor position, his assertion gave us pause. What had his own childhood been like? How was it that he had ended up working on the streets, promoting prostitution? Other "fliers" we got to know were supporting their families, raising little kids, and trying to get University degrees.
Sometimes, it's easier to think in terms of "black" and "white;" the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Just like we want to ignore the "bad" in ourselves, we may overlook the "good" in others. As we continue in the fight against human trafficking, let us allow our compassion to extend to those who may be perceived to be, or may in fact be, part of the problem. Perhaps in reaching them, they may become part of the solution.