“As an ordinary person, what can I do to combat human trafficking?”
This is a question I have been asked before, and my response to people is to get involved by using your gift. If you are a quilter, give those quilts to places that are trying to help and shelter victims of trafficking. If your gift is cooking, then send food or give a class on cooking at a nearby shelter. If your gift is teaching, then teach students or whomever about human trafficking.
My gift is teaching, so at my school, interested students and I formed an anti-human trafficking club that meets once a week. In meetings we go over the signs to look for in a potential victim of human trafficking. We educate ourselves on the different types of trafficking, on what fair trade means, on the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign and other ways to bring awareness. We develop PowerPoints and other educational materials that we use in presentations. We then educate other clubs in our school, of which there are around 40, about the horrors of human trafficking and ways they can get involved. It’s important to remember to always end presentations with a positive call to action. Students learning about the terrible crime of human trafficking can feel overwhelmed and helpless. But if you point out how they can get involved and help, you will create modern-day abolitionists instead. Always remember to educate, equip and empower.
Our largest and most successful activity is organizing a bi-annual awareness event in the fall that hosts a number of fair trade vendors, interactive learning exhibits and speakers to get the word out. The club called last year’s event “#27Million.” It was attended by over 300 high school students and many members of the community. It was great because the club members ran the entire event with only a few of us adults there to help when needed. The students who came saw their peers taking action, being leaders and informing attendees about human trafficking. Plus, the fair trade sale was a big hit because of the upcoming holidays.
Hosting events like this builds community awareness and support, which is helpful when wanting to have more events or getting approval for projects such as offering fair trade items for sale in school. The club’s “notoriety” from our event helped us gain permission to sell fair trade coffee in the cafeteria on Fridays and to educate students about what it means for a product to be fair trade and why it is so important to buy.
My husband also is an educator. He and I used our gifts and created a curriculum on human trafficking for middle and high school teachers. The curriculum covers the types of human trafficking, resources on prevention, PowerPoints, a discussion guide for Theresa Flores’ The Slave across the Street, assignments and quizzes and many other links and ideas to help students get involved in stopping human trafficking. The curriculum is offered on the teachers’ pay teachers website. It’s a great curriculum for any middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. I think it’s important to educate students about human trafficking so they are aware that this is happening here, to equip them with the tools and knowledge to be effective abolitionists and to empower them to help others and to not become victims themselves.
To close, we are all consumers, so we need to use that power for good. Ask your local grocery store to stock fair trade items and seek out items that are fair trade or direct trade. Anyone can and should get involved in this fight. Do what you do every day, and use your gift to help stop this horrific crime.
My name is Katie Talbott and I have been combating human trafficking for the last six years. I am a high school Intervention Specialist for Kettering Schools. I am active in Abolition Ohio the Miami Valley Anti-Trafficking Coalition and serve on its Educational Outreach committee. I have participated in meetings and round tables about human trafficking and have presented on the topic. I have taken the Trafficking Education Network class given by the University of Toledo. I have written curriculum on human trafficking and run a small club after school that brings awareness of human trafficking to the community. My belief is that we all have a gift and should use it in anyway that we can to be the hope to the people who are currently entrapped in modern day slavery.
Enslavement and oppression are designed to break the spirit. Fortunately, that does not necessarily happen. Similar to the days of the Underground Railroad, modern day victims and survivors of enslavement are fighting to be and remain free.