September 4, 2017, Orlando, FL
Life in Southeast Asia was hard for Lucas* and his family. Low wages and poverty drove him to the United States with hopes of giving his family a better future. He left his wife and son to pursue the American dream.
A company promised Lucas a work permit and Visa, steady work, and decent pay. They even offered to help him send part of his paycheck to his family in Southeast Asia. However, once he arrived his dream was quickly shattered when he became a victim of labor trafficking.
His desperation for a better life made him vulnerable to traffickers who prey on individuals in need. The employment recruiters promised Lucas a wonderful job opportunity, substantial living conditions, and financial security for his family but it was all a lie. He was forced into horrible work conditions and received little to no pay. When he tried to send what little money he earned to his family, the company took some of it. Even more, he was forced to take out a loan in order to pay the 30,000 pesos required to initially get the job.
This loan put Lucas in debt bondage and the labor traffickers forced him to submit a blank check so they could access his bank account at any time. Lucas endured daily threats of violence and deportation while living in an overcrowded, filthy apartment without enough food or drinking water. Here, he was deprived of sleep and food, endured mental abuse, and was stripped of his basic human rights. Lucas suffered this abuse for too long but his resilient personality empowered him to persevere. His nightmare finally ended when the company was discovered
Now, Lucas has been approved for a work permit and T-Visa and brought his family to the United States for their safety. While reuniting with them has been a blessing, the language barrier has made it difficult for Lucas and his wife to find work.
Most of us own products that were produced, at least partially, with slave labor. Most of us have eaten food farmed by labor trafficking victims. This must end!
One way to help is by supporting those who work difficult hours for the food we enjoy. The Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force is collecting items to bless people who feed us but often struggle to feed their own families. This fall, consider donating to this worthy cause. See information below:
*pseudonym used to protect the survivor’s identity
by Blair Pippin
Creative & Prevention Director • Florida Abolitionist