I have seen so much of our world over the years, but each new trip brings more understanding that there is so much left to see, experience and understand.
As a Photographer I am drawn to the creative, the inspiring, the moments in life that draw people out of their shells and reveal their true character. But when I come in contact with something that is not pretty, happy or easy to swallow, the way I react is changing. I don’t want to pass it off and let someone else deal with it simply because it is not my area of expertise. I am now incapable of standing idly by.
The problem with being an artist is that, many times, a painting, film or photograph doesn’t actually help someone. It can paint a picture of reality, but if no one sees that picture, what is the point? It can be skewed so that people see the depravity of the world, or it can show the hope and redemption that await us.
I don’t want to be an artist who makes images of depravity, who shows the worst of the world in the most beautiful of ways. Have I done this before? Absolutely. But those are not the images I am proud of, the images that tell the true stories. If I come to believe that just showing poverty and pain will lead to any sort of change, I am dead wrong and, quite frankly, wasting my time.
As artists and creatives our responsibility is to use our abilities to tell a story that moves the viewer, a story that transcends the moment the image was taken and shares the potential for joy, love and life.
Along with a friend I am planning a documentary that will focus on the rampant issue of sex trafficking, specifically in Nicaragua. Throughout the past year we have been exposed to this issue in recent trips to Central America and have come to the conclusion that we must act and use our gifts to tell a story. Not a story of pain and despair, though these feelings may come, but of the hope and redemption that can rise out of these horrible circumstances.
We have decided to film primarily in Nicaragua because of the unbelievable stories of heartbreak and redemption we have found there. In 2008, there were only two human trafficking convictions made, an increase from zero convictions in previous years.
Nicaragua is a country plagued with political turmoil, natural disasters and poverty. It is the least developed nation in the western hemisphere. Most women are uneducated, and when a husband leaves or dies, they are forced to fend for themselves and take up prostitution to support their family, many times even selling their own daughters into the sex trade to help pay the bills.
What’s more heartbreaking, children five years old and younger are being sold by their families into this industry. These young girls are rented to men to be raped and abused. I have met girls as young as six who were chained to a wall for months because they refused to have sex with a man. This is not uncommon to these victims; it is something that the world needs to understand.
So why this project? Why in Nicaragua? We don't feel it's right to see evil like this and not take action against it. What we do is make films, so we are making a film to paint a picture of the reality these victims face. We want to make this film to help support and rescue the women and children who are literally and metaphorically chained to this life.
We have found that in the middle of the poverty, despair, pain and anguish there are things at work that are changing not only the lives of the women involved, but the very system in which sex trafficking takes place. There is an organization in Managua that is successfully rescuing women and children from a life of prostitution, empowering them to survive and support their families by means other than selling their bodies. They are giving women not only skills, but Hope.
This is a story of heartbreak, horrible fear, unimaginable pain, and hope. Sex trafficking is an issue that can be solved and is being solved, one individual at a time. We just need to keep fighting the fight.
We ask you, please consider sponsoring this project. We only get funding if we meet our goal 100%, and we feel this is a story that needs to be told. You can help. You can help by talking about this with your friends, doing your own research and helping fund this film. But I know that the work only starts if the funding starts and we start filming. We need support and encouragement to come alongside the women and tell their stories of Hope.