There are a lot of difficult topics out there that people try not to talk about. These things still exist, though we try to avoid them because they make us uncomfortable or don’t want to believe that evil exists in the world. One of these things is human sex trafficking, and it’s a very real issue. But there comes a point when someone needs to step up, and not only talk about it openly, but address the problem and do whatever the can to end it. That hero is Tim Ballard.
Tim Ballard seems like your average guy. A loving husband and father of nine kiddos of his own. Ballard was also a former of an agent with the Department of Homeland Security and has since dedicated his life to ending child sex trafficking and saving kids from slavery. The organization that he founded is called Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit dedicated to recuing children from the horrors of sex-trafficking. He was asked to help create the Department of Homeland Security’s child crimes unit in the mid 2000’s, something that sparked his passion for saving this kids. In that role Ballard went as far as going undercover as a sex tourist to convince traffickers that he was interested in buying children.
As a dad, this work work was traumatizing. but he knew that it was necessary. “I learned how to basically just be horrible things. I learned how to act like a pedophile or talk like a trafficker or a purveyor of child sex tourism- whatever I needed to do. Then I started to infiltrate different organizations in horrible places in Mexico andColumbia.” Ballard said in an interview. He stayed in this position until he realized that he could do more and help more kids, if he started his own operation. With the Department of Homeland Security, he was limited by U.S. jurisdiction.
Ballard started having anxiety at work when he was unable to fulfill the promises he had made to families that needed his help. Then like any good partner in crime, his wife encouraged him to do more. “My wife is my hero,” he said. “Katherine said ‘You made a promise, and they were good promises. These are real kids. We’re just going to trust in God. We’re just going to quit.'” Knowing that they had six kids of their own to provide for, they were scared, but felt assured that they were doing the right thing.
There are times when the y weight of what he is doing gets to be too much, but always cites faith and his wife as the inspiration to keep him going. “She would stop me from throwing in the towel in those moments and remind me ‘As hard as this is, imagine how hard it is for the kids.'” he says. Seeing kids that he has rescued on the road to recovery has also been something that motivates Ballard to keep going.
Operation Underground Railroad has rescued more than 1,682 children and arrested more than 882 traffickers, some astonishing statistics, but there is always more to be done. Ballard’s story is getting more well known thanks to a book he’s written called Slave Stealers, and a soon to be feature film, and the more people see, the more they want to help. This is a lot for someone to tackle alone and it’s going to take more people hearing the Ballard’s story and stepping up to raise awareness.
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