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  • Nell Green

a state of being exposed

Vulnerability, according to the dictionary, is a state of being exposed to the possibility of harm—physical or emotional. Like many of you, I have been on a gazillion Zoom calls during quarantine. (Yes, that's an accurate count.) Often folks check in with each other as to how they are handling shelter-in-place, job changes, shifts in community dynamics, homeschooling, and more. We feel vulnerable.

The Off Ramp serves those who live in a state of vulnerability day in and day out. People who are displaced for whatever reason experience greater exposure to the possibility of harm. One of the reasons the mask project has meant so much to The Off Ramp is because it is serving those who are vulnerable. Masks have gone to people serving and living in foster care. Youth and children services around the state of Texas have received masks. People who are trafficked or at risk for being trafficked have received masks. Displaced people along our border are better protected because of masks. All this while helping two refugee families receive an income during this time as they make the masks.

Yes, the pandemic has made many of us feel vulnerability more profoundly. It has brought innumerable others, however, to new levels of desperateness and now the work of The Off Ramp in addressing human trafficking is more essential than ever. Victims of trafficking are at greater risk for violence and infection with the virus. An increase in online advertising lures and tricks more people into trafficking’s dark web. This is especially true for children and teens who are spending a greater percentage of their time online and are unaware of the dangers of trafficking via social media. People without jobs and experiencing homelessness, perhaps for the first time, are desperate for ways to survive. Those displaced along the border are willing to listen to those who promise a way out.

Crisis intervention is necessary and a responsibility we take seriously. Better yet is prevention. As we contemplate current work and work in a post-pandemic world, we will continue to address the vulnerability of displacement. We will continue to create opportunities for displaced people to thrive. We will continue to aid in cultural acclimation. We will continue to teach and educate about human trafficking. We will continue to pivot and help in times of crisis. Thank you, change-makers, for making this possible.

Photo: 500 masks sterilized, boxed, and headed to border!

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