5 Ways to Fight Trafficking ALL Year
I love January! Not only does Colorado’s snow tend to sparkle like little diamonds as cold envelopes us in the mystery of winter, but it is Human Trafficking Awareness month.
As a survivor of trafficking, it means a lot to me that a whole month is dedicated to educating about trafficking and highlighting the realities of this nefarious crime. As January comes to a close though, my heart is also sad—because I know that some individuals will stop talking about the epidemic of trafficking.
Yet, I believe it is vital that the same drive individuals and organizations have had over the past thirty-one days to talk about human trafficking MUST exist all year for us to co-create change.
Just because January is over, does not mean that trafficking has stopped. Rather, boys, girls, men, and women around the nation and world are still being exploited. The battle is not over yet!
The reality that exploitation still exists and people are still being sold today gets me up in the morning, it is what gives me energy to keep on going when days are long and painful. It gives me the ability to stand up in front of other people and share parts of my painful history to help others understand the realities of trafficking and ways that they can help. It gives me the strength I need to keep pushing forward in my own healing to be a bridge of hope to others.
Over the past month, I have been wondering how Human Trafficking Awareness Month has changed the perspective of individuals who are learning about trafficking for the first time (or have known about it for a long time)? How have you been motivated into action? What keeps you fighting this crime throughout the entire year—not just the past thirty-one days?
Several ideas that you can potentially implement into your daily lives include:
1) Choose one item this year that you are committing to only purchase Fairtrade—I know that this might be a hard commitment to make, but most people would be shocked if they knew the extent of the abusive and exploitative conditions individuals suffer in the production of many goods that we enjoy. Did the people who created your hair product get paid fairly? Did the people who harvested the tea leaves that made your steaming cup of aromatic tea this morning have a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and the opportunities to engage in the hygiene habits that they deserve? A few years ago, I made the commitment to only buy and eat Fairtrade chocolate bars AND if I do not have the money to purchase a chocolate bar where slavery is not involved, then I will not purchase chocolate. Something as simple as this can put the value of humanity above cravings and desires.
2) Every month read a different book on human trafficking—Some individuals that I know have started book clubs to read through books on human trafficking with their community and discuss ways that they could collectively respond, while others decide to make it a goal to purchase and read a book on human trafficking each month. Whatever you decide to do, through reading a book a survivor leader has written, you are not only supporting them—but you are also engaging in a unique and special learning experiences that will continue to grow your understanding of trafficking and ways that you can respond. Some good books to check out include: Roadmap to Redemption (Rebecca Bender), Girls Like Us (Rachel Lloyd), Runaway Girl (Carissa Phelps), Fallen (Annie Lobert), Walking Prey (Holly Austin Smith), Nobody’s Girl (Barbara Amaya), Stolen (Katariina Rosenblatt), Sex Trafficking Prevention (Savannah Sanders), And Life Continues (Wendy Barnes), From Trafficked to Treasured (Kelly R. Patterson), Scars and Stilettos (Harmony Dust Grillo)
3) Give up a coffee one day a week (or make it at home) and donate the money to vetted organizations working with survivors—Although giving up a $5.00 cup of coffee only once per week may seem really small in the grand scheme of things, the result is $260 over the entire year! This could send almost three holiday packages to survivors of trafficking through our GiveHope program, or if you and five friends pooled the money together, $1,300 could provide holiday packages for about 13 survivors. Small things add up and create big change!
4) Use a creative outlet to express the ways trafficking has affected your life—Although trafficking is something that emotionally touches the hearts of individuals, I typically see three types of responses… individuals who suppress the feelings that come up, individuals who cannot acknowledge the depravity of humanity doing this evil to another human, and individuals who let the pain of others spur them into action to bring good and love into their community. Use creative methods like journaling, painting, or music to express the feelings that you experiencing right now and how you would like to respond in the future. Sometimes to be able to live fully, we need to open our eyes and see the reality around us—this doesn’t mean that we need to stay stuck here, rather it gives us a perspective to engage in wholeness.
5) Volunteer with a local anti-trafficking organization—Many anti-trafficking organizations are needing volunteers that can assist them with projects, initiatives, administration responsibilities, and direct client care. Sometimes the mundane things are what can make the biggest change.
Change starts through baby steps that add up, which mean that the impact of January does not end today. What are you going to do to keep it going?
Written by: Jessa Dillow Crisp