Here’s a story I did for Rotary Magazine, about the growing movement against human trafficking/modern slavery:
When Dave McCleary first heard about human trafficking, it seemed like something that happened far away, probably overseas. But not in the United States. And certainly not in his hometown.
Then one day he invited a speaker who knew otherwise to talk to his Rotary club in Roswell, Georgia. Her name was Melissa. She was originally from Roswell and had gone to the same high school McCleary’s girls had attended. Melissa dropped out at 16 and was offered a modeling job by a man who turned out to be a sex trafficker. For two years, she was trapped and trafficked in downtown Atlanta before police and a local organization helped her escape.
After the meeting, another Rotarian approached Melissa and gave her a big hug. McCleary asked him how he knew the young woman. He said she used to babysit his kids when she was 12, and he had wondered what had happened to her.
“For me, that was when it became real,” says McCleary, who is now chair of the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery. “Now it wasn’t someone else’s problem. And I remember thinking at the time: Rotary — we’re in 200 countries, with 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million Rotarians, and we tackle the tough issues. Why not slavery?”