A good friend in a sad place, learn…

This is something I wanted to make more available for others to recognize what is going on.  I have taken out some of the personal parts of the e-mail.

Missin you as always and want to one day get together to have some more discussions about doctrine…
I am off to the Y in a month if I ever make it home from this adventure. Am writing from Sarajevo en route to Iran on a motorcycle.  Here is a copy and paste message about my last couple months but it is very sad so take a breath before you read on.
I have been doing an internship here in Brussels at Payoke (http://www.payoke.be/pages/eng/engindex.html its a small website as usually these organizations don’t even have websites; you don’t want to give the criminals too much info). I can only say that it has been one of the most eye opening, earth shattering, heart wrenching, and heart breaking experiences I have ever lived through. Trafficking in humans is such a sad phenomenon. Payoke guides the victims of trafficking down the road of recovery if such a thing is even possible after they have been found by the police. These victims are children, mothers, wives, teenage girls, and even men who have been sold for money and forced to work as prostitutes in either brothels under lock and key 24/7, work camps, or sweat shops right here in Brussels, Antwerp, Liege and smaller towns throughout Belgium. Bulgaria is a huge source country for girls right now as the trade has moved out of Albania and into Bulgaria. But the whole Eastern side of Europe, since the EU expanded, has been a major source for domestic labour and prostitution. Trafficking is a problem plaguing not only all of Europe but the rest of the world as well, though the problem is more well known here than it is in North America. We are about 5 years behind Europe. I can’t explain in an email just what a brutal and hopelessly sad story it is…You can’t help but almost cry at the end
of each day…These three cities have three major NGO’s that take all of the victims found throughout Belgium and tries to help them. As you can imagine, help is not always possible. Patsy, the founder of Payoke was once a member of the European parliament and was forced to go to work with 6 body guards, a bullet proof jacket, in a bullet proof car. I was in Strasbourg last week for the plenary and people still remember her and the entourage. She was making big waves in the community and cutting deep into the pockets of the traffickers. Living in precarious and dangerous circumstances is something that people in this line of work sometimes have to get used to. It’s crazy. The traffickers have no borders, only the bureaucrats and law enforcement trying to catch them do; which is, essentially, the good guys fighting the bad guys with their hands tied behind their back.
To give you an idea of just how current this phenomenon is…there is a girl in the shelter right now who only got lured into the despicable trade in April. She was at school in Romania and just finishing up high school. She is 18 and had a friend at her hair dressers tell her about making big money in the West. She followed the advice of the friend and followed the contact. When she crossed into Holland she had her passport confiscated by the pimp who bought her there where she was forced to have sex with him and his cousin within a week of leaving her home. That was in Amsterdam in May.  By June the brothel wasn’t making any money and she was forced to move to Brussels. Here she was found by accident in a police raid only two weeks ago.
It is a typical story. She is young, pretty, and naive. She thought gold hung on trees in the West. She was lucky. Some girls know they are going into prostitution but many don’t. People go missing and people turn up dead and when it comes to the victims…they are cheap property that can be easily eliminated.
Patsy, the head of Payoke, was the first person to tackle the problem of victims involved in the sex trade, starting her organization over 20 years ago. Society didn’t acknowledge the problem then and it took until 1994 for it to change when the King of Belgium personally came down to the shelter to endorse Patsy’s work and sign his full support behind Payoke. She has since been traveling to countries around the world explaining the problem of human trafficking to governments, law enforcement agencies, legal prosecutors, and NGO’s from America to Albania to Egypt.
She has given us free reign and access to her entire network of Judges, Police officials, prosecutors, politicians, NGO’s, and diplomats. She wanted our idealistic naive opinion as non experts in the field.
Call it fluke or call it something else that she got me and Anna (a girl from Montreal who thankfully speaks French) of the ten interns. Not too mention me and having my bike, I have access to places that most don’t. Anyways…I am preparing for a major conference on human trafficking next year at BYU so I am trying to learn all I can from the European perspective before I return home.
I’ll write more about this on the blog and give more information as to where you can learn about the problem. Suffice it to say that the world can be a nasty place and I am witnessing some of the worst of it. I will be off to some of the worst source countries for these girls in a couple days, Sofia, Bucharest etc. to see their red light districts and underground brothels for myself, I have some more NGO contacts to veer me in the right direction and hopefully keep me out of harms way. Tel Aviv is a major source country and destination country and so I am hoping to make
it there by mid August. Wish me luck .

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