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Only 1% of victims are ever rescued. I was told this statistic on the first day at A21 this summer, and still haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. When I heard this statistic, I was rather disheartened. If the odds are so low, then is there any real hope of ending human trafficking? As I thought about the millions of people trapped into slavery, I couldn’t fathom how A21 having 80 survivors this year was anything close to a victory. But in spite of what seemed like barely making a dent, every staff member at A21 seemed ecstatic about this small number of survivors and even more than that, seemed to earnestly believe that we would see an end to human trafficking in our lifetimes.

At first, it was difficult for me to see how the staff at A21 was able to find hope in a situation that seemed so bleak, but in the couple weeks that I have been here I have started to see where this hope and confidence comes from. While statistics are certainly important for understanding human trafficking, A21 ultimately sees its mission as focusing on the individual. The real tragedy in human trafficking is the way that it dehumanizes individuals and celebrating each and every individual survivor helps to push back against this though. Hearing and celebrating these stories of lives being restored is what drives the hope behind A21. But even still, this hope doesn’t make sense to some, and is why it is necessary. If people and organizations like A21 don’t dare to hope for what seems impossible, then it can never be accomplished.

Fighting human trafficking is a huge undertaking, and it will take many years and the work of many people until the fight is over. But in my first few weeks here at A21, I’ve come to believe that this is a fight that is very much can be won.