By Luverta Reames
Human sex trafficking is a form of slavery that exists in all corners of the world.
Juniors Michelle Booker and Kate McGill wanted to start a campaign that would bring awareness to sex trafficking. Booker went to Jennifer McClellan, Mission-In-Actions coordinator, to begin the campaign but was told it needed to be through an organization already established on campus. Booker then went to sophomore Taylor Polatas, co-leader of Heart 4 Missions, with her idea.
Booker, McGill and Polatas started the campaign by organizing a Facebook event for March 24-25 to notify the student body. They set up a table in Ludwig where studedents could take a picture with a sign that said “Slavery Still Exists.”
The pictures could then be posted as profile pictures on March 27 to raise awareness about human sex trafficking through the Polaris Project.
The Polaris Project, which is named after the North Star that guided slaves toward freedom along the Underground Railroad, is a leading organization in the United States working to combat human trafficking. It serves both U.S. citizens and foreign victims, according to polarisproject.org.
Polatas said they took over 250 pictures with some having multiple people in them. The basic idea was to flood Facebook for a day to raise awareness of the issue.
“After we took all the photos and tagged people, we suggested that they add a caption with a fact or statistics or link to a website like love146.org or notforsalecampaign.org,” Polatas said.
Polatas found two cool things about this event.
“First, some people didn’t even know what human trafficking was so it raised awareness. Second, I came into contact with so many people who have a heart for human trafficking and whose majors fit into going into organizations like love146 to help end human trafficking,” Polatas said.
Sophomore Rebecca Rodeheaver was one of the many that participated.
“I want to help increase awareness about the injustice that still exists worldwide. The worst of it is that they do not even have a voice with which to cry for help. So I want to be a voice for their cause,” Rodeheaver said. “It’s so much more than holding a sign and having that picture on Facebook.”
In addition to Heart 4 Missions, Olivet’s chapter of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery and other oppressions, is hosting “Change for Chains” April 16 at 8:30 p.m. in the Warming House. Students are encouraged to bring loose change that will be used to rescue victims of slavery.