Vanished, A novel by Mark Bierman

 

Today I wish to take some time to promote my novel, Vanished. Now, I must be honest with you, I never thought I’d write a story about human trafficking

How it all began and why:

My father was a building contractor and had been to the impoverished nation of Haiti a number of times. He would assist with the construction of homes, churches, and a few other projects. His return meant amazing stories and disturbing photos of tiny shanties where families lived, in cramped quarters, without running water or electricity.  In fact, often, there were open streams of raw sewage that ran close to these squalid huts.

In October of 2010, my brother-in-law accompanied my father to decimated post-earthquake Haiti. Yes, you guessed it, another construction project.

“Oh, take a journal with you and write in it every day,” I instructed them. “I want to write an article for a magazine about your experiences.”

The pair dutifully completed their “assignments” and I was blessed with a plethora of information and colorful stories. That’s when the idea came for a book. Yes, but why Human Trafficking? Well, I have spent years working as a Correctional Officer and my mind instinctively wandered to the criminal element, I also enjoy reading action novels. I really believe, too, that this book was a therapy for me, to cleanse my mind of the negative experiences of working in a prison.

Please be aware that the book contains NO graphic violence or sexual deviance. I DO NOT create rape scenes, nor describe grotesque injuries or deaths.

A quick summary of Vanished:

Tyler Montgomery loses his wife to cancer and is grieved beyond consoling. His father-in-law, John Webster, cannot bear the loss of his daughter, both men are headed for self-destruction. When the opportunity for the mission trip arises, Trudy, John’s wife, convinces the pair to go. Though she grieves herself, she puts their needs first and believes this Good Samaritan experience will be a distraction.

They arrive in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, which is relatively untouched by the earthquake and find their host, a missionary named Steve Tracey. He drives them to Rescue Haiti Mission, their home for the next month. At dinner that night, they meet a lovely young woman named Mahalia, who takes in the Mission’s laundry, and her sweet seven-year-old daughter, Chantale.

All goes well for the first while, until Mahalia bursts into the cafeteria during dinner, proclaiming that Chantale has been taken, her cherished doll found abandoned on the road. A local search leads nowhere, and the police are unwilling to help. Even Steve tells them to accept that little Chantale is lost forever. The earthquake has created too many problems and these children are never found.

Unaccustomed to such atrocities, and reeling with the pain of their own loss, the two Americans develop a strong desire to do the right thing. Steve resists, at first, citing the dangers and fallibility of the undertaking.

One day, in a fit of frustration, Steve declares that Chantale is as good as dead. Mahalia overhears this and reacts strongly. She ignores Steve and approaches Tyler, the look of sorrow in her eyes is what he sees in the mirror daily.

Mahalia shoves a photo of her daughter, and the doll into Tyler’s hands. She locks eyes with him and utters the words that begin a terrifying journey into the underbelly of Haitian society.

“Don’t listen to him. He has given up hope for many things. You are a good man. I know you can do this. Please find her! Please find my baby!”

Yes, John and Tyler are loosely based on my kin, and yes, there are some facts and experiences they had that are incorporated into the story. However, the majority of it is fiction.

This book was written mainly for the purpose of drawing attention to the world-wide issue of Human Trafficking that is prevalent in EVERY country.

Fifty percent of the profits made from Vanished, are donated to a charity that helps victims of human trafficking.

I’ve composed a poem that speaks about Mahalia’s thoughts as she deals with her grief:

Chantale, little angel, my barren arms embrace the ghost of you; they’ve squeezed the shards of my shattered heart, since the day you were snatched away.

Blurred by the rain of constant grief, my soul’s eyes search this decimated land; baby girl, where’d you go to?

Pointed fingers accused me, for surely, I fed you to the mongrels; pay no heed, my precious child, to the evil lies they say.

Come back Chantale, the flowers you picked crumble in the vase; my will to live falls with each petal, fresh ones will die quickly, unless touched by you.

In feverish madness, I’ve commissioned strangers to the rescue, placed faith in two men, pure of heart but naïve to the ways of monsters; forgive me Chantale, for my options were few.

If to the cruelty you succumb, please climb on the Father’s lap, whisper your plea; a hug from Heaven in a rainbow’s hue.

Please check out the book trailer:

I wish to thank the professionals at 4WillsPublishing for creating such a wonderful trailer!

Vanished made the top ten list! Jan Sikes is a very talented author. Please visit her website.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Vanished.

If you wish to purchase a copy, available in ebook and print format:

Amazon.com       Amazon.ca      iBooks

Connect with Mark:

Website      Facebook    Twitter    Instagram

I am also a member of  Rave Reviews Book Club a wonderful community of authors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Fight For Freedom

As you may be aware, my novel ‘Vanished’ is a fictional story about the heroic rescue of a human trafficking victim. Today I have the privilege of hosting a member of Fight4Freedom, an organization of real heroes, that work diligently, everyday, saving victims of this disgusting crime. For security reasons, only the member’s first name, Julia, is used.

What is Fight4Feeedom?

Julia: Fight4Freedom began in order to address the growing problem of sex trafficking in both Canada and throughout North America. We’re an active part of the NGO (non-governmental organization) community that hopes to raise awareness of sex trafficking and to see the end of this issue. Community based anti-trafficking groups are working hard to prevent human trafficking, protect vulnerable populations, lobby for policy reform, and rehabilitate victims both at local and global levels.

How big is the problem?

Julia: There are approximately 1,500 people trafficked into Canada annually, which only accounts for around 10% of Canadian trafficking cases. The other 90% of cases are domestic cases of Canadians being trafficked within Canada (often Aboriginal women or youth from low-income communities). Throughout the world, 800,000 people are trafficked annually, and 99.8% of trafficking goes unpunished.

What are some of the challenges in your work? How does Fight4Freedom help?

Julia: Often some of the biggest challenges in working with victims is trying to unravel all of the mental abuse the traffickers have put them through. Trafficking is less often about kidnapping people and forcing them to do work and more about the mental and emotional manipulation of a person to make them do things they would otherwise never do.

The way Fight4Freedom works is by training teams of volunteers to go into high-risk areas, like strip clubs and massage parlors and talk to those who may or may not be victims. Over many visits, we build relationships with them and we want to make ourselves a safe place for them to go. We always train our volunteers to listen first. Once we understand enough about the situation and feel we can act confidently, we build a plan with the survivor based on what they’re comfortable with and what is available. If need be, we may get the police involved and walk with the survivor through the legal process, but if we can do things on our own, we will.

We will often give our survivors first and last month’s rent, in order for them to get set up in an apartment where they can feel comfortable. We’ll also give them grocery gift cards for food and supplies. We also have partnerships with a few counsellors, and they are provided with free sessions for as long as they need. We make a commitment with the survivors to walk with them for a minimum of one year, and with a minimum of one visit per month.

The first few months are really intensive with trying to forge new and better habits and thought processes. We also help them detox from from drugs and alcohol. During our visits, we discuss how they’re doing, their long and short term goals, and types of work they should look into. It’s really cool to see people start to come alive when they’re given a chance to be passionate about something! We take our survivors out for fun activities like horseback riding and paint nights in order to get to know them better in a more relaxed environment.

What lead you personally into choosing this field and organization?

Julia: I got involved with Fight4Freedom about eight months ago. I loved how they were making such practical steps towards giving Jesus’s kind of love in the world.

Learn More About The Amazing Work Fight4Freedom Does:

For more information and stats on trafficking, or to donate, please check out their website: https://www.fight4freedom.ca/what-is-sex-trafficking.html

If you would like to get involved, please check out this link: https://www.fight4freedom.ca/volunteer.html