Episode 02 – In the Beginning

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Linda Smith:

Here I was on what was supposed to be a five minute call in my congressional office and I listened for 45 minutes. Just not able to put the phone down, hearing about children being sold for horrible acts and labeled prostitutes.

Podcast Announcer:

Hello and welcome to Invading the Darkness, stories from the fight against child sex trafficking, featuring Linda Smith, the founder of Shared Hope International. Join Linda as she shares stories from her 23 years of fighting the battle of domestic minor sex trafficking. Our desire is that each episode of Invading the Darkness, will help you understand the importance of fighting child sex trafficking, as well as equip you to join in that fight. In this episode, Linda Smith shares how she first encountered the sexual exploitation of children. Listen as she recounts the pain of that moment and the resolve that came upon her to pierce the darkness with the light of hope.

Linda Smith:

I think it would be easier for me to start from the beginning of Shared Hope, that’s where I realized how dark it was. Here I was on what was supposed to be a five minute call in my congressional office and I listened for 45 minutes. Just not able to put the phone down, hearing about children being sold for horrible acts and labeled prostitutes. I couldn’t sleep, I got a ticket to India and that very first night I asked to be taken to that place I’d been told about. I couldn’t believe what I saw and what I felt. I was on the streets of Bombay, India. I was still a member of the US Congress. I’d been told about the women and children who were being prostituted, but I just couldn’t believe it. They said that there were hundreds of thousands of women and children, I just couldn’t believe it.

Linda Smith:

In politics, people stretch the truth a little bit and I thought, “Oh, they’re not telling the truth,” but I couldn’t sleep. So they took me down to the brothel area called Falkland Road and there before my eyes was a crowded street and two storey places that there were little hands sticking out of the bars on the second storey and women and young girls standing in front of doors. I was shocked. The smell of incense, and urine, and diesel, body odor and we in America have a way of kind of not managing that real well. We don’t like things that smell bad, but I was more overwhelmed by the crowded streets of man after man, shoulder to shoulder shopping along both sides, two storeys with women and children who they would buy for a brief sex act or maybe longer for a few rupees and then walk on.

Linda Smith:

It was a normal behavior of the men. And once the woman or child was put into prostitution, brought from different countries like Nepal or the villages of India, they were then labeled prostitute and no longer considered of value, much less educate or to marry. And that was where their lives would usually end. We found out later, and I’ve heard since that they live maybe seven years, but in big part, the brutality of commercial sex would take their lives.

Linda Smith:

When I was trying to assimilate this, they told me about how they would take the little girls out to the country and there were these little homes where they were keeping the little girls safe and I obviously wanted to see them, but I’m a grandmother, I think part of it was I love kids. So as we were going out to see these kids, I saw a pile of what looked like it was hay. And as I was looking at it, I thought, “Well, I don’t have any idea what I’m looking at.” There were people around, they were making bricks and the man next to me said, “Well, these people, this is what they do. The grandfather, the father, the children, and they’re in debt bondage. Way back their grandfather or great-grandfather would have built up a debt for the food, the lodging of their whole family. And that debt would go from generation to generation and they would make these bricks.”

Linda Smith:

And the bricks had, I used to call manure in it, but doo-doo, and mud, and straw, and under heat and pressure they would become these very strong bricks. And that actually what was in the doo-doo was what made them the strongest. And once they were baked, you couldn’t see the straw. You couldn’t really see the mud because it was now brick and you couldn’t smell them. And I immediately saw the picture of my life and my life being one where as a little kid, I had some bad people in my life using me in ways girls shouldn’t be used.

Linda Smith:

And I had started working really young and doing things to help buy things that I needed and that it was kind of like the mud was politics I’d been in. And that somehow God had made this stronger and that I could stand on it and he showed me I was seeing into the hearts of the women and girls that he wanted me to stand with. I’ll have to admit, I argued a little bit. I’m not the softest marshmallow in the bag, but when I got to the children, the little kids and realized why he had brought me, our God had brought me to this position, I had to stop doing everything else I was doing and started helping these women and children.

Linda Smith:

So Shared Hope was born and through Shared Hope we have now for 22 years been restoring women and children, building villages, and in America, finding ways to help women and children who have been prostituted in the commercial sex industry.

Podcast Announcer:

Thank you for listening to Invading the Darkness, stories from the fight against child sex trafficking. If you would like to learn how you can help put an end to child sex trafficking, please visit sharedhope.org/takeaction. New episodes of Invading the Darkness are released every Tuesday at 9:00 AM Pacific. If you have enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving us a five star rating as well as a written review. Join us in episode three, where Linda Smith goes into great detail showing how culture shapes language and language shapes the law. We hope you will join us. Thank you again for listening to Invading the Darkness.

7 thoughts on “Episode 02 – In the Beginning”

  1. Linda’s story is a naked view of the brutality in the world. Her stories, though difficult to hear, bring hope because she has built Shared Hope out of these experiences.

    1. Richard Aronson

      Great perspective Jo. You are right. Some of these stories are hard to listen to but bring great truth.

  2. It breaks my heart when I think that sex trafficking has been going on for centuries, but thank God, He has called Linda Smith to fight against this atrocity. Sin is so devastating and sex trafficking is complete evil. Thank – you thank – you, Linda, that you were willing to listen to His leading, and may He bless Hope International now and for many years.

    1. Richard Aronson

      Thank you for continuing to listen and for your ongoing support. Our prayer is that we will see this come to an end.

  3. Pingback: Where Shared Hope Began: A Podcast with Linda Smith - Shared Hope International

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