The reality of Sex Trafficking stabbed my heart back in 2012.  I had no idea how prevalent modern-day slavery was. I had no idea that it happens daily across the United States. I heard real stories and realized this was an epidemic. An epidemic with numbers so staggering, that my sense of horror was nearly lost in the sheer magnitude of a number I couldn’t wrap my head around. It’s easy to hear a number in the millions and say, “Woah! No way! That’s terrible!”, but if you see just one face, one girl, one real story-you connect the horrific to a human-a face a name-not just a statistic. One is enough. 

Every ONE counts. Every one of us can stand against injustice, and stand for freedom on behalf of ones who cannot speak for themselves. 

This knowledge and a desire to do something since 2012 has taken me to Nepal, inspired me to run my first 5K, propelled me to walk in the Phoenix heat to raise awareness, and meet others who care about this cause like Khue the founder of The Soteria Initiative! There are many, many who have sacrificed much more than I have for this cause and have started organizations working to either prevent, rescue, or rehabilitate victims. Care about trafficking cannot be just a millennial-do-good-pop-culture trend. There are too many victims for anyone to say that this topic is saturated. 

Every ONE counts! That’s why anytime I hear of an event or organization dedicated to bringing freedom to women and children; I want to join, support, and contribute! 

As a photographer I am passionate about capturing mission-minded moments and telling cause-driven stories. So, this past Saturday, I drove out to Goodyear to capture the Phoenix Aruna Project’s Run For Their Freedom 5K. It was a hot day, with the Arizona sun out in full force (Aruna is actually Hindi for “bright morning sun”!). The first two finishers were young boys and toward the end of the race, as the announcer was wrapping up, a pack of strollers rounded the corner for the finish line! It was awesome to see families (with kids of all ages!) and friends out running/walking together. 

I encourage you to check out the Aruna Project. Support the Soteria Initiative. Look for ways to lend your voice to the cause of freedom in your community and around the world!

 

Anna Rochelle Bader, Photgrapher

Photos courtesy of Anna Rochelle Imagery