Running Along The Exodus Road: In Support of the Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery

Running Along The Exodus Road: In Support of the Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery

Running Along The Exodus Road: In Support of the Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery

90 dollars.

Did you know the average price of a slave today is 90 dollars? I didn’t.

My painful awakening came quite recently, and it’s shaken me in ways I cannot even begin to explain.

I was attending the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) conference in June 2018, a prestigious event that I have had the fortune to be a part of for over 13 years now. At the conference, in a showcase by the MDRT Foundation, I learned about the seriousness of modern-day slavery and the harrowing facts and figures surrounding human and sex trafficking today.

Every year, the MDRT Foundation brings to the forefront a cause that could use the support of the members of the association. This year, they shed light on the work being done by The Exodus Road, an organization that is strategically fighting human trafficking in Southeast Asia, India, North and South America.

Exodus Road laid out some hard-to-fathom facts: As of 2016, there were 5.4 victims of modern slavery to every 1000 people in the world. It’s hard to say precisely, but somewhere between 20 and 40 million children, men and women are abused and trafficked every year worldwide. $150 billion is generated in illegal profits from the trade annually – a business empire built on buying, selling and abusing fellow human beings.

I’m not sure if I put my blindness down to oblivion or to some sort of naivety. Either way, this is one of those truths that I know I’m never going to be able to unlearn or unsee. And so I decided to take on the cause and support it the best way that I can.

Why Am I Supporting This Cause? 

I have always been driven to help people, and to create a positive impact. At work, I try and create that impact by helping my clients protect their families and their businesses with life insurance.

But honestly, that doesn’t truly feel like ‘help’ – I have financial goals attached to work, and I have something to gain from my effort. So I started to look for more selfless ways to make a difference, and MDRT provided me that opportunity. I have actively donated to causes through the MDRT foundation since 2005, but have always wanted to make the time and effort to support something beyond a one-click monetary donation.    

My second reason for supporting Exodus Road is even closer to heart. The harsh reality of human and sex trafficking is an unawareness that I am guilty of carrying quite late into my life. My initial eye-opening was only when I was around 27 years old.

In recent years, I have sadly and painfully learned that people in my life, dear friends and family, have also been victim to the horrors of this trade. That’s hard to come to terms with. It seems like a far-away problem that doesn’t happen to ‘normal’ people like you and me. But the sad truth is that it could, and it does.

To imagine that my children are growing up in a world where people buy, sell and facilitate the abuse of children, men, and women like a commodity, for a profit – that breaks me. It moves me to take action or to support those that are taking action in every way that I can.

About The Exodus Road’s Work

The Exodus Road is an organization that is based in Colorado, USA, and rescues sex and human trafficking survivors across Southeast Asia, India, and North and South America.

They have rescued and freed over 1000 abused children, men and women so far – some even more than once. They have also supported over 400 arrests of human and sex traffickers.

Their work is extensive: the organization facilitates rescue missions, they gather evidence, build cases and conduct raids with the local police. All their forces consist of trained local nationals so that their efforts are integrated within the community, making them sustainable.

The Exodus Road investigators use advanced technology to locate survivors and work closely with local law enforcement to abolish operations across the regions they operate in.

They also have a team of social workers that work closely with rescued victims, to help them wade out of the darkness and trauma of what they have been through, and help them transition back to a life of freedom.

My Initiative

I am on a mission to raise $100,000 for The Exodus Road to continue to do their phenomenal work in fighting human trafficking. 

I am also dedicating my 2019 Marathon Des Sables run, a six-day 251km ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert, to the cause.

I’d like my run to be symbolic of hope and support for the victims of human trafficking that are being abused every day. These men, women, and children are leading parallel lives to ours, in a realm that couldn’t be more different, or any farther away from the light.  

So between November 1st, 2018 and April 15th, 2019 (the last day of the Marathon Des Sables), I am working towards raising $100,000 for The Exodus Road, and towards raising awareness of the fight they’re fighting. 

How You Can Help

Two ways – by spreading awareness of the depth of the cause, and by making a donation to help me hit that $100,000 goal.

$35 funds one night of investigative work each month. The money will also help to fund rescue missions, train more on-ground operatives, and help to spread awareness via training, communication, and other channels.

Follow The Exodus Road on Instagram (@theexodusroad ) to learn more about how they are making a difference.

Follow me on Instagram (@ricksonjdsouza) to keep track of the initiative’s progress, and please hit share on this article to do your bit in letting 1, 5 or 50 more people know that they can help, too.

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