If you missed chapel last Tuesday, then you missed a great speech by Rebecca Bender. To sum up her personal story for the purpose of this article, Rebecca spoke about human trafficking and explained how she lived in Eugene while attending college, until she was trafficked and moved to Las Vegas. Rebecca met “the love of her life” right down the street from school at Taylor’s Bar and Grill. Six months later, she moved to Vegas with her young daughter and boyfriend, only to be forced to dance at a strip club to make money for her boyfriend. She did not know at the time what was happening, but it soon made sense and she realized she needed to get away from her boyfriend. It took six years for her to escape, and when she did, she moved back to Eugene where she was brought in by Shade Fish and her family. For those of you that do not know, Shade Fish is a student here at NCU.
After we heard her story, I decided to talk students like Kayla Miller (who is going on her second missions trip to Cambodia this May where they will combat sex trafficking), and Shade Fish (whose family brought in Rebecca in her time of need), and get some of their thoughts on Rebecca’s talk in chapel.
Here are the questions I asked and their responses:
1. How does Rebecca’s speech encourage you to keep fighting the battle against human trafficking?
Kayla: Rebecca’s speech encouraged me to keep fighting against sex trafficking because it reminded me that it is happening in the very town I live in. It encouraged me to continue to become more knowledgeable about what is happening and what I can be doing to speak against it. Rebecca’s bravery and vulnerability truly inspires me.
Shade: Rebecca is inspiring. She makes me feel like I need to do something to make a difference. And because of how she uses what she’s gone through to impact the world, I feel like I really can.
2. How have you connected her testimony to those testimonies you’ve heard from others? In other words, how does her story differ from others that you’ve heard?
Kayla: Many of the stories I have heard are about girls who live in Cambodia. The trafficking process is a little different over there compared to here, but there are a ton of similarities as well. In Cambodia and here in the US, girls are always taken advantage of, it is typically viewed by society as something other than sex trafficking (ex. prostitution), and many people are very uneducated about what is happening around them regarding sex trafficking. The difference between here and Cambodia is the children are often exposed to sex trafficking because the family is poor and needs money in order to survive. Again, culturally it is not seen as sex trafficking but rather people trying to survive.
3. This one is for Shade; can you give us a short response (about a paragraph or so) about how you and your family took in Rebecca and your relationship with her?
Shade: Rebecca is a part of my family. She is my cousin and my mom’s niece as well as her close friend. Rebecca’s eldest daughter, Deshae, was my best friend growing up. I remember when they came to live with us. I was young and I didn’t really understand why. All I knew was she was in trouble, she needed us, and my mom didn’t hesitate to help her. We all love her very much and support her. It’s been amazing to watch her go through such a transformation. She’s an amazing wife, mother, leader, speaker, and I’m beyond proud to call her family.
4. If there is one thing you’d like others to remember about how to fight/ recognize human trafficking, what would it be?
Kayla: I would want people to remember to be aware and in the process of being aware if you see something suspicious do not be afraid to speak up. Also, I really, really want people to know about the importance of educating yourself about this, or any injustice that is taking place throughout the world. In order to stand up against something it is crucial you have at least a basic understanding of it!
Shade: Once you’re really aware, I think it’s impossible not to think a little differently and act a little differently. Remember that there are real victims of sex trafficking around you and remember that getting educated about it can really make a difference and potentially change lives.
We hope you can see the passion that Kayla has for her missions, as well as the compassion that was seen through Shade’s family as they took in Rebecca. We as encourage you to be aware of what is happening in this world. Human trafficking as a form of slavery is not dead; it is very much alive and I personally thank Kayla and the many others who have a passion for fighting human trafficking.
Until next time,