Ride to Freedom

In the words of O.U.R. Founder Tim Ballard (2014):

“This three-year-old little boy . . . jumped into my arms. And as I held him, he almost immediately saw this shiny thing on my neck. It was a necklace.

“Now, this is the necklace that is so symbolic to our organization. It was a replica of the necklace that was given to me by one of the first children, about 10 years ago, that I had pulled out of a trafficking ring. And he gave me that necklace, that little boy.

“So here I am years later in an undercover operation, holding a little child who was for sale, and he sees this necklace and it even says on it . . . Operation Underground Railroad. And he pulls it off my neck and he puts it around his neck.

“And you know, here I am trying to act as this, kind of, tough ‘trafficker,’ and I’m biting my lip so I don’t start crying. The emotion in that moment was overwhelming for me.

“We then jump into a van and we take off to this hotel where we’re going to do the deal and lay out twenty- to thirty-thousand dollars to ‘buy’ these two little kids so we can catch this person and her daughter in the crime of selling human beings, of selling children. That undercover operation led to the liberation of the other 26 kids who were for sale.

“Those kids are safe now. We know where they are. They’re in places that we had designated and recommended they go to in Haiti where they’re cared for and they’re not for sale anymore.

“But I think that little boy who wore my necklace knew who we were. In fact, I know he knew who we were. During the operation he jumped into my lap and just cuddled up to me. And it turns out it was his first car ride ever in his life. It was his ride to freedom.”