By: Pablo Jimenez
At times we don’t understand how our actions can affect our future, or how our life can change when we choose to follow our dreams. After meeting a 17 year old boy (at the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica) that had been in prostitution since the age of 12, I had the burden and dream of producing a documentary about human trafficking in Central America. The concept was to travel with a group of four friends from Panama to Guatemala, seven countries in total; and to film how human trafficking is taking form in each country and its negative effects on the country, and then once it was finished, to present it to universities and schools in the same countries that we filmed at. Growing up in Guatemala City there was an apathy and ignorance about social issues, and it was my hope to confront that through the documentary. In November 2011, my four friends and I started filming and we were able to finish shooting in Guatemala at the beginning of April.
A month before the filming started, the person that loved me the most and who I loved the most, my grandma, passed away. Then, during the filming (because of my immaturity) I stopped talking to someone that was very special to me. These experiences, in addition to meeting and interviewing hundreds of women and children that were sexually, physically, and emotionally abused left a small thorn in my heart which started making me doubt my beliefs, especially about God. I was not doubting if God is good or not, because I understood that all the suffering that I was seeing and experiencing was because people were acting out in their own selfishness and because there are few people that are willing to confront evil and injustice. My doubts had more to do with being able to trust God. I thought: ‘What is the purpose of putting my trust in a God that would let children get raped constantly? Why should I trust in a God that took away the person that loved me the most? Why should I trust in a God that was letting me be lonely?’
During the 5 months that we traveled, in every place that we visited, we met people that challenged us with their dedication. We met social workers, psychologist, volunteers, and missionaries, that had chosen to dedicate their lives to help others. During the trip I grew afraid of receiving the calling to stay and work with human trafficking, such as in a safe house or long term ministry. Seeing these people that were giving their lives to making a difference against human trafficking, and then comparing their lives to mine, I was able to see all the selfishness that was in my life. I was able to see how unwilling I was to give away certain rights that sometimes I feel like I deserve. Even with the documentary, I was able to see that my reasons for producing and directing it weren’t completely right. Guilt that I had accumulated due to the people that I had hurt in the past was making me feel like I needed to do something right to be able to gain forgiveness. My insecurities were telling me that I also needed to do something meaningful so that my life would acquire more value. My ego was also telling me that I needed to do something great for my name to be known and to gain fame so I could be loved. Meeting people that were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of others helped me see how selfish I am. It helped me understand that life shouldn’t be all about me.
It has been about two months since we finished filming the documentary. After we finished filming and before starting the editing process, I decided to take 3 months off to seek the truth and answer the doubts that I had. These questions and doubts that I had fueled a hunger to seek God and try to understand Him more. In this process, I have been able to see that in the times when I suffered my character has improved. My pride has been broken and I am learning how to be humble. My patience has grown. I am understanding that my value can’t be found in what I do, but it’s found in who I am.
Concerning the suffering of others, I have been able to see how the human spirit can withstand extreme amounts of pain and suffering, and that it takes a lot for someone to be broken. Even when someone is broken, God is capable of redeeming anyone who is willing to give their life to God and to embrace their identity as His son or daughter.
When I had the dream to do the documentary and started making steps in order to make it happen, I did not understand how my life was going to change. What I thought would be an exciting adventure turned out to be a painful process that I was able to experience with an amazing group of friends. A process in which I had to let people go, seeing pain and suffering in their eyes; a process through which I was able to gain the hunger to seek God for who He truly is.
In a month we are going to start the editing for the documentary. The documentary is going to be in Spanish and the audience that we are targeting is the people of Central America. Once we are done with the editing process we are going to assemble a group that would travel with us again through all of Central America to show the documentary in all the major universities and schools. Our hope is that people will see the reality of the damage that human trafficking is bringing to the victims and society as a whole; and see that the victims are not different than themselves. The example of how 5 young people from Mexico, Costa Rica, the U.S., and Guatemala were willing to give up their comfort, their money, and their time to make a documentary to bring awareness of a social issue will show that young people can do something about it. At the end of this process, it is our hope that our efforts would make a difference in transforming the lives of those who see it.