January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
This month marks the national human trafficking awareness month. As we take all this time to nationally reflect on the devastating crime and its effects many of us might be asking ourselves, how can I make a difference? Our calendars are full of new year’s resolutions, events, classes, and work. Some of us may feel uninformed or helpless when it comes to taking a stand against human trafficking. If you’re anything like I was, you may be frustrated at feeling like you’re unable to do anything tangible. This, however, isn’t true! There are many things that we can do to begin to be the change we wish to see. It starts with us, our families, and our communities. There are things all of us can do to facilitate change and pose a threat to the cyclical nature of trafficking. Here are some things you might like to consider in the coming months:
1) Educate Yourself
Stay informed on the current news reports and statistics of human trafficking, especially within your own area. Review the warning signs and indicators of human trafficking and put the human trafficking hotline number into your contacts (1-888-373-7888). Read articles, books, and newsletters from the ministries you support.
2) Tell Others
This does not have to mean speaking at big events or having a house party. Telling others can mean sharing with your friends, family, and peers in informal settings. Sharing what is going on brings more collective awareness, which in turn produces more effective prevention.
Volunteering can sound intimidating! However, volunteering can be simple and fulfilling. Offer up your special skills, talents, or interests to your local shelters. Ask about serving opportunities, as small as they may be. Many ministries and shelters, like Oasis of Hope, depend on volunteers that graciously offer up their time and hearts to give survivors the best services possible.
Host a speaker or fundraising event at your home, church, youth group, or community group.
Small donations can go a long way. Pray and consider what is an appropriate gift for you to give to a ministry fighting human trafficking. (You can donate to Oasis of Hope right here!)
6) Meet with local government representatives
Ask your local representative what they are doing to help your town fight human trafficking. Make calls, send letters, and show up in person.
Are you a small business owner? Do you work in a high level position in a large corporation? The support of businesses, big and small, can make a world of difference to a ministry or organization that is fighting human trafficking. Show your official support through attending events, donating, offering jobs to survivors, and partnering with ministries like Oasis of Hope.
If you’re a student, whether that is high school or college, you can do more than you think! Being an advocate in your campus community can help keep your fellow peers safe. Join or establish clubs that raise awareness about human trafficking, do school projects and papers concerning human trafficking, and request that human trafficking awareness education be communicated at your school. Ask for representatives of ministries to come speak at your class or campus.
9) Fight the taboo
Be a voice to your friends, family, coworkers, and strangers. Topics that focus on those hurting can be dismissed because it makes people uncomfortable. While sex trafficking should not be normalized, conversations about the topic should occur often and communicated clearly despite the taboo surrounding it.
The body of Christ has a calling and responsibility to the oppressed and least of these. Victims and survivors are made in the image of God and merit the dedicated support of the body of Christ. As a unit, a church can make a difference within their community by being an advocate, hosting events and training seminars, and training leaders to be aware of identifying at-risk individuals within the community. Prevention and education are two key areas where Churches can step up and make a difference.
If you want any more information or are looking for a ministry to partner with, don’t hesitate to contact us at our website www.oasisofhopeusa.org.
Oasis of Hope Intern
I have felt a calling to fighting injustice and alongside the oppressed since I was 13 years old. Since then God has developed and defined the calling on my heart, which has led me to pursuing ministry in fighting the human sex trade. While I was growing up I educated myself, volunteered, and was an advocate in my community for awareness. I graduated high school early and moved to Chicago to pursue my degree in Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation when I was 17. As part of my degree I serve as an intern at a safe home for 6 months. Now I am a senior and graduating summer 2018. Giving a voice back to the people who have had it stolen from them is something I am more passionate about than anything else. God has called me deep into the ministry of rescuing and restoring individuals affected by the demand of human sex trafficking. It is the one thing that grabbed my heart and never let go.
This ‘Chosen’ video by Shared Hope International is one of our primary awareness tools when we visit schools and church youth groups. Following the video we hold a question and answer time where the students really open up. We have also utilized this video in high risk group homes and foster agencies, including training for their staff.