Hope and a future

Published 5:29 pm Saturday, August 8, 2015

More than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, it might surprise many people to learn that the scourge of slavery continues in places around the world. Even more surprising is the fact that slavery continues to be practiced in the United States — right here in Virginia, in fact.

Human trafficking, which in America reveals itself primarily as women sold into the sex trade, is a mostly-hidden evil, one that most folks don’t realize takes place so near their homes, destroying lives and even threatening the fabric of a society that pretends the victims don’t exist.

Dana and Alan Steele, however, know the victims exist. In fact, they’ve welcomed the first of what they expect to be 20 of them into the home they bought next door to their own. The Homestead Ranch, which held a ribbon cutting recently, will serve as a place where the rescued girls can receive counseling, career training, love and support.

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“There is a trafficking problem in Hampton Roads,” Dana Steele said. “Right now, there’s no place for them to go. Most of them go to shelters, but (the shelters) don’t have anything to offer them.”

Modern-day slavery in America is no less heinous a crime than its historical counterpart. Fortunately there are people like the Steeles, who care enough for victims they’ve never met to intervene to give them hope and a future.