Tuesday, September 04, 2018

O.U.R. Founder Offers Hope, Action Against Human Trafficking Plague

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although slavery was officially abolished in the U.S. more than 150 years ago, human beings are still bought and sold here every day.  Thousands of these are children, trafficked to satisfy the perverted sexual proclivities of our fellow Americans.  Globally, around 20-30 million people (about 6 million of whom are kids) are enslaved, most forced into the commercial sex trade, a 150 billion dollar enterprise (34).  The numbers are astounding.  Against such a tsunami of evil, what can possibly be done?  How can I, a single person dog paddling against the overwhelming tide, help stop this ever-growing plague?

Timothy Ballard is one person who is making a difference.  A former special agent for the CIA and Department of Homeland Security, he founded Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) in 2013.  Made up of other former operatives from government agencies and the military, the group's mission is to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.  O.U.R., Ballard assures, is not a vigilante group.  It works within the laws of the countries in which it operates and in cooperation with foreign governments to stop the plague of human trafficking.  With a number of successful rescue operation under its belt, O.U.R. is proving to be an unstoppable force in the fight against human trafficking.

In his new book, Slave Stealers, Ballard discusses the inspiration behind O.U.R. and how his organization uses lessons from the past to guide its day-to-day operations.  Although he talks about some of O.U.R.'s rescue missions, his focus remains mostly on the original Underground Railroad.  He discusses historical leaders and heroes, some of whom are well-known (Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, etc.) and many whom are not (Harriet Jacobs, Levi Coffin, Robert Smalls, Cornelia Willis, etc.).  Despite the disturbing, overwhelming nature of his subject, Ballard emphasizes hope.  He insists that if good, ordinary citizens of all creeds, colors, and backgrounds can unite against the evil that is human trafficking, the plague can be eradicated.  Just like the battles of the past, this fight will require courage, cunning, compassion, and bold, well-planned action.  As has happened before, this war can be won.  

It's difficult not to feel bolstered by Ballard's optimism, especially considering the evil, heart-wrenching crimes he's seen with his own eyes.  His faith, his courage, and his positivity shine through everything he writes in this book.  While Slave Stealers is not overly graphic, its subject matter is as disturbing as it gets.  In spite of this, Ballard's tone is upbeat, making this volume an inspiring call-to-action that offers undeniable proof that when humans combine their individual sparks they can ignite a righteous bonfire that can spread light into even the darkest of corners.  As Ballard says to the children he seeks daily:  Your long night is coming to an end.  Hold on.  We are on our way.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books about slavery and the Underground Railroad, although no titles come readily to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, disturbing subject matter, and references (not overly graphic) to rape, kidnapping, child abuse/neglect/abandonment, etc.

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Slave Stealers from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you! 

2 comments:

  1. Thank goodness groups like this exist. Slave trafficking in 2018? It's despicable and depressing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's so sad that things like this still go on in the world today. I think this is a book everyone should read...then maybe we'd all do something to help stop this awfulness from happening again.

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