“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard; and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land, and on the strangest sea; yet, never, in extremity, it asked a crumb of me.” - Emily Dickinson
My name is Deanna Trosino! I am new to this blog, so allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychology major in college, a book and movie fanatic, and a lover of the outdoors! Helping others to learn and reach their potential are incredible passions of mine. I believe in fate, and in the Lord’s love for all humans.
Catalyst Ministries came into my life by wonderful serendipity.
During the second semester of my sophomore year, I took a class on human development. It took a chronological look at the development of an individual from birth to death, and focused on potential factors involved in development at every stage.
One of the factors that my professor touched on was criminal organizations. He told us that trafficking manifested in different ways depending on the city or country it was taking place in. At the time, nearly all my knowledge of the trafficking industry was gleaned from the movie Taken. My professor went on to mention certain sections of Philadelphia, the city close to my university, that were prone to trafficking and sexual exploitation. “This street is where people go for young girls,” he said, “and that street is for young boys.”
I remember being stunned by that information. I had known that trafficking was out there, sure, but right in Philadelphia? And right under the noses of over one million people? I thought back to my childhood in Philadelphia’s suburbs, and the many trips my family had taken into the city where we had passed by or walked through those areas. The revelation was a bit frightening.
Amid my busy semester, however, this revelation began to fade to the back of my mind.
Two months later I was in theology class, trudging through the textbook, when my professor announced that we would be starting our final project. My classmates and I would be tasked with writing a paper on who Jesus was, and how he modeled discipleship.
She wove around the classroom, calling out names and randomly assigning topics relating to discipleship. She called out my name, and after a weighted moment of silence she barked, “Covenant House!”
Covenant House? I thought. What is that?
My professor seemed to read my mind. “Covenant House is an organization started by a priest for the homeless children of New York City,” she explained.
After class, I hurriedly looked up Covenant House. In 1972, a priest from Manhattan College had been challenged to practice the things that he preached to his students during masses. He gave up his position at the college and moved into an apartment next to criminals and junkies. Within a few days, a group of children off the street asked to stay with him. Before long, kids began pouring through his doors, and Covenant House was created. Many of the children he housed were victims of trafficking, and the psychological toll that it had taken on them was difficult to miss.
Researching Covenant House was a revelation not unlike the one I had experienced in the beginning of the semester. Only two months earlier, I had been informed about trafficking in a big city, and now I was being tasked with learning more about trafficking and its connection to Christianity. I couldn’t help but feel as if the hand of God was on my shoulder, gently pushing me towards this part of the world.
I returned home for the summer and began a job, but volunteering became something I wanted to do as well. My mother had a friend who worked for a group called Catalyst Ministries, which combats human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Given the push I had felt over the past semester towards helping victims of trafficking, there was no way that I couldn’t answer the call to volunteer.
Joining Catalyst has proved to be an amazing decision. It is very difficult to hear about the experiences that young girls and women endure every day when they are trafficked. To be denied opportunity, freedom, control – aspects of our lives that we too often accept without reflection or gratitude – is to be denied humanity. I cannot imagine the weight that those young women bear because of those stolen rights.
Have you heard the myth of Pandora’s box? The gods created a young woman, Pandora, to have several gifts, one of which was curiosity. The gods then gave her a box that she wasn’t allowed to open. Her curiosity got the better of her and she opened the box, releasing numerous evils into the world. She shut the box quickly, but it was too late.
Some versions of the myth state that Hope was left in the box, and thus became something that humans could hold onto. Other stories say that Hope also flew out of the box, and released goodness into the world to fight the evil. Regardless of the version, amidst the evil and pain and suffering, goodness prevailed in the form of hope.
I like to think of that story when I think about trafficking. It is an evil, sinful industry that negatively impacts the lives of young people. It leaves those within it devastated. But God never forgets to provide good amid the suffering. There is hope, and light to be shared and created by others. People are using their voices to fight for those who cannot speak; laws are being passed that treat the trafficked as victims; efforts to free these victims are growing.
Read the previous blog post here: A Preliminary Hat in The Ring of Laws to Help End Sex Trafficking
Hope is an undeniable aspect of the human condition. Like the phoenix, hope rose from the ashes – ashes that the evils of the world were also raised from. Yet hope found a way to grow feathers and take flight into our hearts. When learning about the trafficking industry, it may seem like hope for a world rid of those evils is far, far away. But I encourage you to raise your hearts to the Lord and trust in Him. The victims of this industry need people to believe in them and fight for them. There is a better future ahead; let’s look towards the light of hope.
Proverbs 31: 8-9