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12-year-old Clover girl fights human trafficking

Most 12-year-olds have never given a second thought to slavery as it still exists in the world today.

Emma Smiley has not only thought about it, but this soon-to-be teenager is working to bring an end to human trafficking by supporting Abolition International.

The home-schooled daughter of Neil and Sally Smiley of Clover said the plight of young girls caught up in a world of human trafficking has truly touched her heart.

Six months ago she heard Christian singer Natalie Grant on the radio talking about her experience in the Red Light District of India.

“In the dark corners of the world, slavery still exists today,” Smiley said. “I talked to my mom about how I wanted to get involved, and she told me to pray about it. So I prayed about it for a while and felt that God was calling me to step up and speak for those who have no voice. I wanted to do something about it.”

She referred to a quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower that also has inspired her to take action — “He said all it takes for evil to prevail is for a good man to stand by and do nothing.”

She refuses to stand by and do nothing because she said in the United States, one in three runaways is approached by a human trafficker within 48 hours, and the average age of girls trafficked into prostitution in the United States is 12 years old.

“That could be me.” 

Smiley said her research has found human trafficking occurs all over the world with the United States and India heavily involved in the illegal importation of young female and male slaves to cities such as Miama, Atlanta and Toledo.

“There are more slaves in the world now than when it was legal,” she said.

A total of 27 million people are being held as slaves in the world making it the second largest illegal crime, second only to drug trafficking.

But what would cause someone to get caught up in the world of human trafficking?

 “Sadly, many families suffer such extreme poverty that they believe the lie they are selling their children to a better life, when it is really into bondage,” she said.

“Moms addicted to drugs are selling their teenage children for drugs everyday,” she said.

And if and when the children are eventually rescued, they have no place to go and most often are placed into juvenile detention centers.

In her effort to end this world of suffering for young girls and boys, Smiley said she is raising funds to send to Abolition International, an accredited group that partners with shelters to provide aftercare restoration for victims.

Abolition International also fights for better laws against human trafficking, according to Smiley, and they educate the public about the reality and try to raise awareness slavery is very real to its millions of victims.

Finally, the group offers restoration to victims in the name of Christ, Smiley said. 

“They offer hope in Christ, counseling and a safe place to heal,” she added.

She has found two scriptures that inspire her as she does her part to help human trafficking victims: 

Psalm 103:6 – “The Lord judges in favor of the oppressed and gives them rights.

Psalm 146:7 – “The Lord upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free.”

Smiley said after prayerfully seeking guidance on how she can make a difference, she sparked an idea.

She could make “scrubbies” and sell them to raise money to donate to Abolition International.

“My grandmother who lives in Northern Virginia knew how to make these scrubbies, and I asked her to teach me how, and she willingly jumped in. She’s been my greatest supporter.”

So everyday she makes at least one scrubby, and some days two that she sells for $2 to raise money to help the victims.

A member of Faith Community Church, Smiley said she decided to involve her church in her endeavor too.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the church located beside Halifax County Middle School plans to hold a yard sale, and the public is invited to rent a spot for $10 each.

“The rental money will go to Abolition International, and the person renting the spot will keep whatever they make at the yard sale,” she explained.

Her youth group at the church is pitching in too and plans to sell concessions all day at the yard sale to raise more money for the cause.

“We’re asking all the generous hearts to come out who may want to help and donate,” she said.

And she also is looking for anyone interested in helping her make more scrubbies to sell for the cause.

Persons wishing to help Smiley put an end to human trafficking by making scrubbies or renting a booth at the yard sale can contact her at 579-6952.

“I’d love your support. I also have some other ideas for fundraising,” she said. “My hope is that when people use a scrubby, they will pray for all the victims and their release from captivity.”