Tears, trains, trafficking and the start of a bumpy journey
Being constantly on the move can leave you feeling fragile...
I have joked that, instead of moving into a house at the start of September, I should simply have taken up permanent residence on a train. It would save me a lot of money spent on rent, and a lot of inconvenience caused by slow moving buses on the way to train stations! In all seriousness, I do feel a bit like I’ve been on a country wide tour. Since the start of September, I have been to: York, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, London, Peterborough, Leicester and Coventry to name but a few cities, and have whizzed through far more. My collection of train tickets is expansive!
As a result of this, I’m feeling a bit all at sea. The result of going everywhere is that you are nowhere for long, and this has meant I have been unable to really put down any new roots. Exacerbating this ungrounded feeling is the fact my placement is with a network. This means I work in completely different places, with completely different organisations all the time. While this sounds, and is, exciting, I think it is beginning to take its toll. I seem to be crying a lot at the moment. Now, I’m a bit weepy by nature, but currently I’m taking it to the extreme (and my constant existence on trains means that I am often that person making the whole carriage feel awkward by silently weeping in the corner…). I wouldn’t say that I’m upset or sad. In fact, I am really enjoying my work. I love visiting student groups and am really appreciating the amount of stuff I am learning.
Naturally then, I have been doing some thinking to try and solve the mystery of the frequent tears, recognising that attending a business meeting in a flood of tears isn’t the most professional front to present...
It was in this thinking that I was reminded of the many stories of trafficked individuals that I have come across. Often, trafficked individuals are regularly moved by their traffickers, within or even between countries. In their excellent book, which can be bought here, STOP THE TRAFFIK highlight Brenda’s story. Brenda is an American national, trafficked into the sex trade in the United States. Speaking of her experience in brothels, she said:
“…they moved us around like cattle. You never knew where you would end up. It was also normal to wake up and find the girl next to you was gone. You knew not to ask where she was or give any information that you knew she was there.” (page 47)
This constant relocation and transfer of individuals is used by traffickers as a mechanism of control. It keeps trafficked individuals, like Brenda, in a constant state of flux, ensuring that there are able to take very little control over their lives. Constant moving means that trafficked individuals never have time to put down roots in, or sometimes learn the language of, the place in which they are currently located.
I am free to choose where I go, what I do, and when I do it, and yet my transient lifestyle has left me feeling very fragile. I can hardly begin to imagine how vulnerable victims of trafficking must feel.
Through my work, I am facing up to the very worst of human existence, and the very extremes of human frailty. When I truly reflect upon this, I can hardly find it surprising that I am shedding more tears than usual. Bonhoeffer said that discipleship must have a cost, that following in Christ’s footsteps will be a bumpy journey. With this in mind, perhaps I should consider my current transience as just another bump in the road.
If you ever come across a situation where you suspect trafficking may be occurring call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, and then report the incident to Stop the Traffik via their website: https://www.stopthetraffik.org/report-incident
Faith in Action Intern
The Faith in Action project is a collaboration between the Student Christian Movement and Project Bonhoeffer, seeking to investigate the relevance of Bonhoeffer's theology today. Through placements with secular organisations that tackle injustice, our two Faith in Action interns, Hattie and Jo, are exploring what it means to put their faith into action. Within their placements, Hattie is exploring the ways that society reacts to halt human trafficking and Jo is examining the issues facing assylum seekers and refugees. You can find out more about the faith in action project here, or have a look at the intern's blogs.