A Light in the Darkness and the Power of HOPE-Courtney Dunkerton, Human Trafficking Program Coordinator

January 5, 2023

It’s possible we are all a little cagey to get too excited about 2023. Maybe our hope has been a bit dulled by the last couple of years. It may just feel safer to lower the bar when it comes to expectation. However, it’s worth reflecting together that we have weathered some storms and we are all still here! As survivors, advocates, friends and colleagues we have discovered courage and resolve we didn’t know we had. When we shine that light of resilience, we encourage each other to keep on. 

What does “light in the darkness” mean to you? Maybe you think about your faith or someone who was a guide or support during a rough time, or when you were able to strengthen another person. Maybe it was a date on the calendar, a powerful memory, or something to look forward to. An old friend we unexpectedly run into at just the right time. That text with an apology or a well-deserved “thank you.” That sacred place where you feel closest to something larger than yourself. 

For me, a light in the darkness means hope: hope we receive and hope we give.

It means clarity and presence, whether the light is a part of the collective light of others, or if it shines alone: one small point of light, defying the darkness, refusing to be overcome by it. Maybe it shines though it flickers and is dim, or maybe it glows with steady intensity and heat. Either way, lights in the darkness remind us that we are not alone, and that there IS a way forward. 

In January we focus on human trafficking awareness and we have seen significant changes in the North Carolina Anti-Human Trafficking (AHT) landscape in funding, organizational capacity and partnerships. And while there are many bright spots to celebrate, we have more work to do in centering survivors' well-being and implementing public health framework in our programs and strategic planning. We want our work to be impactful in the way it gives hope to others. 

We can also be a light in the way we do our work. What would happen if we prioritized: 

  • impact over output?
  • courtesy over competition?
  • relationships over influence?
  • abundance over scarcity?
  • presence over busyness?
  • empowering survivors over personal glory?

As we face 2023 with all the joys and challenges it will bring, let’s resolve together to cultivate that which gives light to others. In the very real darkness, let’s resolve to be hope givers. 

Courtney Dunkerton, Human Trafficking Program Coordinator