Sweating for Justice

by Alyssa Love

“I remember the first time I learned about the topic of sex trafficking,” recalls Steve Shugart, a retired project manager from the Sacramento area. “We had seen a Dateline special on the subject, and then seen a documentary about it in Oakland. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Beads of anxious sweat were on my forehead.”

Even still, the married father of three daughters admits that it wasn’t until he met a survivor of international trafficking that the reality sunk in. “Meeting this girl, and watching her talk to her friends [also survivors] back in Cambodia really took this issue, which had been so easy to set aside before, and now gave it a face and eyes.”

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Hoping to give the real faces of those in trafficking a voice, Steve and his wife, Janey, set out to support the development of a documentary about the problem and those with a working solution at Agape International Missions (AIM). However, the Shugart’s became even more closely involved with the filming, planning, and promoting of this film than they anticipated. They became Executive Producers of The Pink Room Documentary, going to such lengths as visiting Cambodia themselves and representing the documentary at numerous film festivals across the world.

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“Sex trafficking is such a huge issue, we had to break it down. This is one of our goals for The Pink Room,” says Steve.

It was broken down through the eyes of one girl. The Pink Room is the story of Mien being sold into a brothel at fourteen years old, her rescue, and her village of Svay Pak, Cambodia. Where many trafficking stories end in desperation, Mien’s story is one of victory and joy.

“One of the other goals is to show that positive change is happening,” Steve explains. “We want to focus on the good instead of only looking at the problem. We believe this will motivate people to be involved,” says Steve, who believes that looking at the development and change that is happening will capture hearts and fuel people to stay engaged for the long term.

Steve and his wife, Janey, also hope that this documentary will assist AIM in the area of fundraising, support, and awareness which will enable the staff in Cambodia to dedicate more time to their important work there in-country.

Steve’s story beautifully illustrates that there is not one type of person that fights trafficking and there is not only one way to do it. You don’t have to have earned a PhD in Social Justice, or have lived twenty years in India to have something to contribute to the solution. Rather, it is up to individuals with diverse and unique gifts. Similar to the way the Body of Christ functions with many parts making up one body, the abolition of trafficking requires many people with distinctive skills and talents.

Steve has used his unique skills of management, planning, and raising awareness to fight trafficking. Now, he is challenging his physical body to help in the fight.

steve3On September 22, 2013, Steve will participate in the Ironman Race in Tahoe to raise funds and awareness for Agape International Missions. This notoriously grueling event consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run, making the word “challenging” seem to be an understatement.

Participating in this race is a feat in itself, and an incredible personal accomplishment. However, Steve has another reason for completing the Ironman: “Even though the thought of completing a full Ironman seems like an impossible task, when you look at what AIM has done to save innocent young girls, that seemed impossible too when they started. I have been and will continue to spend many hours training and sweating; this is time I dedicate to those caught in this horrific evil knowing that we can give them hope for a new life.”

So how does Steve suggest that you get involved?

“Learn more, even if you know a lot, keep learning more; this is a worldwide issue. Plan or attend a showing of The Pink Room. Give time. Promote the cause. Even volunteer by being an English teacher or sponsor an ESL teacher to Cambodia.” Think creatively, and using the unique gifts and talents you already have, you can find a way to be a part of the freedom and rescue for those trapped in slavery.

If you would like to donate and support Steve in his goal to complete the Ironman, please CLICK HERE!

For more information on The Pink Room Documentary, visit pinkroommovie.com