When I came on board with TCW in September of this year, our cover story profiled Katariina Rosenblaat, a sex trafficking victim who was rescued and now runs her own organization to help raise awareness and rescue and restore girls trapped in the trafficking industry nationwide ("There Is H.O.P.E. for Me"). Her story both shocked and amazed me—I knew sex trafficking was a problem, but everything changed when I was able to put a face to the issue. I wanted to know how I could help others like Katariina, and the article provided me with several resources to do so.
When I arrived at the 2013 Passion Conference in the Georgia Dome this week, Katariina's story was repeated to me several hundreds time over from global human trafficking organizations and representatives gathered to motivate the 60,000 college-aged attendees to take a stand to end human trafficking worldwide. International Justice Mission president Gary Haughen, Wellspring Living founder Mary Frances Bowley, and Slavery Footprint founder Justin Dillon were among guests featured as speakers at the conference. They each motivated the crowd to get involved in the fight against human trafficking by becoming educated and donating time, money, and prayer to the fight, and their captivating stories and zeal for rescuing modern-day slaves was contagious.
Here are the top three things I learned at Passion on how to help fight human trafficking:
1) Get educated.
Mary Frances Bowley, author and founder of Atlanta-based human trafficking rescue and restoration organization Wellspring Living, recently wrote a book called The White Umbrella: Walking With Survivors of Sex Trafficking. The book is an account of her work with hundreds of sex trafficking victims in Atlanta since 2001 when Wellspring was first founded, and gives a face to the issue of trafficking in the U. S. Bowley was part of a round-table discussion at Passion 2013, and informed us that even though we may feel like ordinary people, we can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of those suffering simply by donating compassion and awareness to the cause of human trafficking by donating time and resources to organizations already functioning in our local communities.
2) Raise awareness.
Slaveryfootprint.org is a site founded by Justin Dillon to educate Americans on how they individually are contributing to the human trafficking industry worldwide. Dillon's goal is to raise awareness, and after completing the site's brief survey, I discovered 65 slaves work for me based on my personal lifestyle choices. Naturally, this concerned me, and led me to want to start living intentionally. As I seek ways to personally become more conscious of how my consumerism may negatively effect those in modern-day slavery, I'm thankful for Laura Leonard's tips on healthy shopping habits as well as opportunities to donate financially to organizations.