I love living here. I love that I can get an email invitation on Wednesday afternoon to come to a congressional meeting on Thursday morning, and be able to say yes. It is a special and wonderful thing to see democracy work.
I almost had to think about whether I would go. Waking up early on my day off, short notice, metro at rush hour... I spent about two minutes in consideration before saying to myself: This is why I came to Washington. This is why I'm here- to seek out and seize opportunities like this. To see the law being made. To be where the action is.
This morning I got a glimpse of what is probably nothing new to most of my classmates: Weekday AU before 8am. The intern life. A few dozen of my peers and I, dressed in our business best, riding the shuttle to the metro with coffee (or tea) in hand. Packing out the red line to Glenmont along with many other young professionals, reading the news.
As I walked to the Rayburn House building with Cindy (from DC Stop Modern Slavery, who I'm volunteering with here), she told me about how God has called her here to Washington, and called her to pray for congress. I was inspired, encouraged, and excited as we walked into the hearing. Other staff and interns were there from Polaris, Shared Hope International, and other groups.
The bill under consideration is HR 5411, which can be read about here: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF14/20140911/102647/HHRG-113-IF14-20140911-SD001.pdf
It calls for survivor led, trauma-informed best practices to be developed for healthcare providers to identify and assist trafficking victims, as those in healthcare clinics and emergency rooms are often the first responders for victims but currently aren't trained to help.
We sat for two hours while experts shared and answered questions, the panel including a survivor and founder of Breaking Free, women from Health and Human Services, the Indiana Wesleyan center for the Study of Human Trafficking, and two medical professionals. The testimonies, facts, and stories they shared were heartbreaking. They went over the myriad of trauma that victims go through, from physical ills to psychological and emotional distress. Forced abortions. Anxiety. Infections. Panic attacks, suicide attempts, dependence on drugs, and it goes on. But it was also incredibly encouraging, because it was happening. Because my congress, my representatives care and are taking action on something so urgent and the steps they take can really change things.
And the fact that I was able to sit in the room and watch it happen just made me think: this is democracy, working. It makes me so excited.
So many moments throughout my morning when I thought, this is why I came to Washington. This is why I'm here. When I first came, I was an overly politically excited young activist, and since coming to AU I have stepped away from the "politics" of Washington to an extent-it's messy, driven by money and partisanship, and I'd rather just live in my SIS world and work for a faith-based NGO, right? I've been politically disillusioned, despite my hopeful idealism when it comes to international human rights.
But today a bit of faith was restored again. I've been reminded that there is work I can do here on issues that matter to me through the democratic political process. So thank you, Cindy, and Rep. Renee Ellmers, for a beautiful day on Capitol Hill.
Christian, feminist, idealist, wife, poet, abolitionist, dreamer, adventurer.