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Most Americans believe slavery was a terrible atrocity from the history books.
In terms of pure scale, however, slavery is more alive and well today than at any time in human history.
During the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, nearly 13 million Africans were ripped from their homes and forced against their will to foreign destinations. Today, according to the U.S. State Department, there are over 27 million global victims of human trafficking at any given time.
Many of those victims are children, stolen and forced into the sickening practice of sexual slavery.
The new movie “Sound of Freedom” — based on my life story — has been a surprise box office success, and is sparking a national conversation on child sex slavery and trafficking, the fastest-growing criminal enterprise on earth. This unprecedented humanitarian crisis is happening in our country, and on our watch. The United States is generally understood to be the #1 consumer of child exploitation material in the world, while Mexico is one of the top exporters via a porous U.S.-Mexico border.
Members of Congress have sounded the alarm on information that the government has lost track of 85,000 minors that crossed the border unaccompanied, and The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services has lost contact with thousands of children who were released to “sponsors,” and are now feared to be at risk for exploitation. Bottom line, Americans are beginning to understand that if we don’t get on top of this growing $150 billion a year criminal enterprise, none of our kids will be safe.
The incredible reaction to “Sound of Freedom” demonstrates that we are ready to tackle this horror, and has given our movement a new level of momentum. But, if we are going to save children, it’s going to take a massive coalition of groups in almost every country in the world.
There’s an urgent need to bring organizations together that are able to raise awareness, conduct rescue operations, help with critical aftercare for freed children, and work with governments to ensure trafficking hotspots don’t remain as perpetual stains on the globe. All of these elements — and the multi-faceted details within each category — require specialists working in their defined areas, while coordinating with the larger anti-trafficking effort.
This realization began for me in February of 2022, when my wife, and actor/director Mel Gibson, both called me on the same day, asking me to help desperate women and children who were displaced by the war in Ukraine and at risk of being trafficked.
After recognizing the need in Ukraine, I looked for a non-profit that was on-the-ground, had a legal right to be there, and had a strong working relationship with locals … and what was left of the authorities. I then reached out to an incredible group called Aerial Recovery, and we immediately got to work. Leads uncovered during our work in Ukraine and Eastern Europe led to a rescue operation represented by Operation Underground Railroad, Aerial Recovery, Free a Girl, and other organizations which, because of operational security, can’t be named.
This three-continent operation, which I personally led, began in Ukraine and ripped through Holland, the U.S., Mexico, Ecuador, and other locations which are still too sensitive to be revealed. Together, we helped dismantle an international pedophile ring and took down a child sex hotel/brothel in Latin America. Thousands of people — including over 900 orphans — were rescued in Ukraine alone, and hundreds of additional children were rescued in other countries.
We did this all in the short span of just a few months.
That moment redefined what is possible, and showed a new path for ending human trafficking once and for all. Numerous organizations working in tandem, around the globe, rescued vulnerable women and children trapped in a war zone.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Helping to free children from trafficking requires more than an effective rescue effort — kids who have been recovered then require focused and intensive, long-term aftercare to be made whole again.
The aftercare process requires highly specialized counseling, therapy, and tailored interventions that are trauma and survivor informed. The global aftercare program and initiative that Operation Underground Railroad launched is one of the best in the world. Other pioneers in the space include many aftercare trailblazers, notably Jessica Munoz, founder of Ho`ōla Nā Pua and Pearl Haven.
Aftercare efforts don’t make headlines and will never be seen in a blockbuster movie, but it is the vital work that helps children find healing and be able to move forward with their lives after suffering the horrible abuses of sexual exploitation.
I am immensely proud of Operation Underground Railroad and what has been accomplished since its founding — as well as other organizations I have been involved in — and I will continue to support O.U.R. and so many others in this movement through an amazing new initiative called The Spear Fund.
The Spear Fund is an effort to focus on the overall battlefield. Clearly, we can use the momentum from “Sound of Freedom” to fuel a larger global movement, which is what I am dedicating my life to doing.
Like an orchestra conductor, The Spear Fund is leading the charge. Joining other experts, like Jessica Munoz, we’ll be training, equipping, and supporting certified groups who are leading the fight in their specific lane. Spear is designed to finance and coordinate with multiple anti-trafficking organizations and experts, providing an effective global coalition for action when and where it matters most. If the child trafficking cartels can coordinate to destroy children, the good people of the world can team up to save them and make them whole.
Make no mistake, the war against the child trafficking cartels and their allies is going to be long, difficult, and hard-fought, but — ultimately — we can and must win.
The only way that happens is if we do it together.
When we are united, evil doesn’t stand a chance.
Tim Ballard is a senior advisor of The Spear Fund, his early efforts in combating human trafficking can be seen in the recently released movie “Sound of Freedom.”
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.