(Photo source: I Am Second)

(Photo source: I Am Second)

It started off as a clear and cloudless day in New York City. The alarm clock announced a new day. I grabbed a quick shower and rushed to put on my suit in preparation for a string of important meetings. I said goodbye to my pregnant wife, Mary, as we promised to meet up for lunch where we both worked, the World Trade Center.

But that would never happen.

That same day, terror struck. My office, on the 81st floor of the north tower, was decimated at 8:46 a.m. by American Flight 11. Just 18 minutes later, United Flight 175 struck the south tower where Mary had her office on the 71st floor. While we both survived, too many others didn’t. It looked like evil had won.
September 11 changed my perspective on so many things. After seeing death up close, I was forced to recognize an important truth: When life ends, you take nothing with you. All of the successes and wealth you created are left behind. Empty you came and empty you leave. And that led to another realization: Life is best lived taking risks and trying to leave a mark.

It’s those two truths that led me to India in 2010.

I found myself in New Delhi in the red light district, looking for ways to help heal the brokenness there. As I watched the darkness and pain masked by fake smiles and bright lights, I began to feel a connection with the women. I was trapped in a building on 9/11 and thought there was no way out. In an even bigger way, the women I was seeing were trapped, sometimes for years, with no hope for tomorrow. It was slavery.

The second lesson from 9/11 kept playing over and over: leave a mark.

That’s when YouCanFree.Us was born.

Just like the first responders that raced into those towers 15 years ago to rescue people like me, we’re trying to go into some of the darkest places and pull out women on the brink.

Right now, we’re operating in India and Poland in order to end one of the biggest crises of our time. Currently, there are almost 46 million people living as modern day slaves because of the evil of human trafficking.

It’s time to end it. We can’t let evil win.

As we reflect on the horrors of September 11 this year and remember all those who died, let’s let the gravity of that tragedy motivate us to stop another.

I still remember the cries for help of those around me in the World Trade Center. I’m not going to sit idly by as as so many women scream out to be rescued — even if those screams can’t always be heard.

Sujo John is a speaker and the founder of YouCanFree.Us, a national non-profit. To see how you can help fight human trafficking, visit the organization’s website.

For more on Sujo’s story, watch his film below: