Modern Day Slavery? 121Hope Reports on Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Megan Elkorchi

Growing up in the U.S., we learn about our country’s history of slavery, how it was introduced in the 17th century and abolished in the 19th by Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation. We spend our school years memorizing dates, names and battles pertaining to the Civil War. The United States collectively remains ashamed of this institution, and you can bet that nearly every American citizen agrees that our sorted history of slavery in the U.S. is a stain on our past.

The problem is that this stain was never fully removed – it lingers like tomato sauce on a clear Tupperware container. However, unlike tomato sauce on clear Tupperware, the present day institution of slavery in the United States is not obvious to the eye. Many Americans are unaware of ‘modern day slavery’ – the massive Sex and Labor Trafficking institutions that are currently thriving, not only in Eastern Europe or South America, but right here in the “Land of the Free.”

On Saturday, January 28th, 121Hope members, along with several other like-minded organizations and members of the community, gathered at Calvary Orlando Church for the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force’s 9th annual awareness day. It was amazing to see how each vendor contributed to combatting the issue differently. Our own 121Hope booth provided attendees with statistics, information on our ministry, and how to get involved. 121Hope member Traci Smith also lead a breakout session on the importance of awareness and the ways in which 121Hope helps to spread awareness. The highlight of her session was about the documentary ‘Chosen’. It tells the story of how two American teenagers were seduced into the trafficking industry. (Pray for Traci and her team as they work to get ‘Chosen’ into our public school systems.)  

One amazing aspect of this awareness day event was that there was something for the whole family, and they had a variety of activities to participate in. To keep kids engaged, there was a fun and practical station for young children to create ID cards. There were survivor stories shared, breakout sessions (such as the one Traci lead), and several unique vendors. It was inspiring to hear about all of the different ways that organizations are battling the trafficking industry. Some organizations spread awareness through music, others are actively involved in the restoration and care of survivors. Transitions Resale Boutique is a consignment shop that you can donate your clothing to or buy used clothing from, and 100% of the proceeds go toward support services for survivors. Several of us are definitely planning a visit there soon!

It can be frustrating at times to see how little the media covers the topic of trafficking. I find a way to bring it up in conversation with my friends, and most of them don’t realize that this is going on right under our noses. It was encouraging to see how many people attended the awareness day, and proves that every seed planted counts. Each year this event grows, and it’s amazing to see the Lord on our side, combatting the darkness and bringing to light the relevancy of anti human trafficking to our community. We can’t wait to see you next year!

  

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