The Tenth and Eleventh Day of Freedom

10th Day of Freedom: Call or write your state representative and let them know that you support the issue of human trafficking and want to see more laws passed that will better help victims of human trafficking and the 11th Day of Freedom: Shine a light on Human Trafficking awareness! Drive with your headlights on, leave your front porch light on or light a candle! Let’s show our community that we are modern-day abolitionists!

Trafficking can never be eradicated if it’s not at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This includes, politicians. Governors and senators are the closest the average person can get to the White House. Unfortunately, since the average person doesn’t have the resources or time to dedicate to turn their cause into a law to prevent it. However, it is the job of the representatives of your state to address issues that its citizens are passionate about. Write a letter, or email nowadays, to your state representative to let them know that you will not stand for human trafficking to continue any longer and encourage your friends to do the same. During election years, it is also a good time to write to candidates up for election to let them know what issues you want them to tackle while they’re in office. It never hurts to bring human trafficking to the forefront of  lawmakers’ minds. While we might sometimes feel like we want to run around busting down doors and rescuing those stuck in trafficking, getting put in jail for breaking and entering isn’t going to help rescue victims. The best thing to do is educate, that includes politicians. The creation of harsher laws can only help fight the traffickers and help deter anyone from trafficking.
The other people that you can rally around for support in ending trafficking is your neighbors and community. Bring this issue to city hall and see what your community can do on a local level. Talk with them about organizing a fundraiser to raise awareness and money for an anti-trafficking organization or talk to a local organization about coming to talk to schools in the area. Day 11 is about more than just about shining a literal light on trafficking, you have to bring it to people’s attention as well! 

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The Eighth and Ninth Day of Freedom

8th Day of Freedom: Wear Green as a symbol of hope! Encourage others to do the same! & 9th Day of Freedom: Go to Change.org. Visit the Human Trafficking section and sign one of the various petitions on the issue of human trafficking. Encourage your friends to do the same.

There are so many ways you can get involved in the fight against human trafficking. From wearing green to taking a few minutes to sign your name on petitions, every little bit helps. I decided to group #8 and #9 together because they go hand in hand. Wearing green is a symbol of hope because it is a symbol of protest against allowing trafficking to continue. You might wonder what wearing green or signing a virtual petition might actually do. Wearing green probably isn’t going to magically *poof* all the traffickers, pimps and other criminals into jail cells and whisk those in trafficking to slavery (but wouldn’t that be nice?), but there is a possibility that someone will say “Oh what a lovely green shirt that is!” and to that you can promptly reply, “Why thank you, I’m wearing is as a symbol of hope for victims of human trafficking, you can so that as well!” and now you’ve successfully started a dialogue about human trafficking and have done a small part in raising awareness. Soon enough you might look around and notice a sea of green around your school, workplace, or wherever else you spend your time. It’s all about getting the message out there: We cannot allow human trafficking to continue any longer. Awareness is the key to that. The next step  after awareness is action! and that’s where the petitions come in.

Change.org has thousands of petitions on different issues, many of those being issues of social justice. When you sign the petition you can opt to have your signature shown publicly as well as share the petition on Facebook, Twitter and a slew of other popular social networking sites right from Change.org. Making it as easy as a few mouse clicks to invite others to sign as well. In my experience, petitions have gotten a bad rap. There’s a misconception that all they really are is a piece of paper (virtual or tangible) full of scribbled signatures, some of a person’s given name and others from the comedians walking amongst us, that read “Superman” or “Seymore Buttz” that undermine the validity of what the petition is trying to accomplish. When people say that petitions can’t do anything, that just isn’t true. It’s hard to ignore a subject that is creating outrage in the public. It’s very easy to ignore something that no one is making a sound about. When you go to Change.org you can browse through “popular” or recent petitions or chose to search specifically for an issue your interested in (this would be a good place to type in “human trafficking”). You fill out a tiny bit of information and you’re on your way. I’ve found it can get rather addicting. I’ll see a link in an online newspaper article or a link to a petition for a cause I’m interested in will pop up on my Facebook news feed and before I know it, I’ve just signed 20 petitions ranging from human trafficking to women’s rights to prevention of animal cruelty. As far as addictions go, I feel pretty safe in my assumption that signing petitions for causes I believe in amongst the safer of addictions. School keeps us busy. Jobs keep us busy. Families keep us busy. Lives are busy. But it only takes a minute that can actually make a difference. Maybe not a huge one, maybe not immediately, slowly but surely we will eradicate slavery once and for all.  

 

By: Danae Zimmer

The Seventh Day of Freedom

7th Day of Freedom: Encourage your local library to carry more books on the issue of human trafficking. There are several books written on the issue that really help describe the issue of human trafficking in all of it’s forms.

Human trafficking can often be seen as scary men kidnapping women off the street and shipping them over to foreign countries to be chained up and sold for sex. Sadly, this is the case for some trafficking victims, but it is certainly not the most common way someone ends up in a situation where they’re being trafficked. Understanding trafficking fully means that you have to look at it from all angles. That sometimes requires that you look at it objectively at the money behind it and other times it requires that you focus on the victims is statistics. Removing your feelings about it can be difficult, but it’s necessary. Other times looking at individual stories of survivors is another way to learn about trafficking. It is also necessary to always remember that sex trafficking is just one type of trafficking. Labor trafficking and domestic servitude are also taking place throughout the entire world. Fortunately, there are many resources that can teach us about every aspect of trafficking. I’ve come across many books that have really shed light on all aspects of trafficking. I’ve also found that reading books, true stories, of women in oppressive situations, who have overcome them, to be very inspiring as I learn more about the darkness that lives in the world like human trafficking.
Here are a few books that are not only incredibly interesting to read, but educate about what life is actually like in the realm of trafficking and oppression:

-Ma’am Anna: The Remarkable Story of a Human Trafficking Rescuer by Anthony Bunko & Anna Rodriguez
-Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself by Rachel Lloyd
-Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof

You can find more books about trafficking at:
http://humantrafficking.wordpress.com/human-trafficking-books/non-fiction/
http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/human-trafficking

The Sixth Day of Freedom

6th Day of Freedom: Write a blog or letter to the editor regarding the issue of human trafficking. Education is the key to fighting human trafficking!

      There are few things more powerful in this day and age than the power of the human voice. Over the past few years, blogs have grown to an incredible level of popularity and thousands of blogs have gained a loyal following. Video blogs, written blogs, both have the power to education millions of people about the horrors of human trafficking. Imagine if so many people were blogging about trafficking that the phrase “human trafficking” started trending on the internet. The only way to end trafficking is to educate the masses about it.
     The human collective is an incredible force. People who live in the United States have have an unimaginable power to speak out in comparison to many places in the rest of the world. Instead of using their right to free speech to bad mouth celebrities, I’d like to see that power be put to good use. Can you imagine what would happen if the majority of the United States population banned together and decided enough is enough? We have the right to hold our government accountable to do more to end slavery in the United States and perhaps that will carry on to the rest of the world. The only way we can hope this will happen is if people know that it’s happening. Americans spend an incredible amount of time on the internet, much of that time on social networking sites, reading/ writing blogs and interacting with others on the internet. What better place to bring to light trafficking’s existence? It doesn’t take a very long time, these posts take me about 20 minutes to write. Nowadays there are so many anti-trafficking organizations with their own blogs, it can be as simple as posting a link to one of those blogs and telling your readers to take a look. Perhaps though, you’re not part of the “blogosphere” and would rather contribute in another way. Newspapers frequently accept “Letters to the Editor” and will even publish well written, well researched articles that are submitted by the general public. Simply sending a newspaper an email saying that you are interested in seeing an article written about trafficking can be enough to get the paper involved and you will now be reaching the readership by just giving the paper a suggestion.
     We can’t expect people to spell if we don’t know the alphabet, just like we can’t expect people to care about ending trafficking if they don’t know it exists.

By: Danae Zimmer

The Fifth Day of Freedom

5th Day of Freedom: Get involved! Volunteer with a local anti-trafficking organization. Many of these organizations are in need of assistance with administrative needs, planning events and helping raise awareness on the issue of Human Trafficking.

One of the biggest problems the world faces, particularly in the United States, is that anytime we hear about anything the least bit unsettling or uncomfortable, we are more than willing to turn a blind eye. People often times find themselves following the old saying, “ignorance is bliss”. However, ignorance certainly isn’t  always bliss, especially for those people being ignored. It’s easy to pretend that trafficking doesn’t exist if it’s not something you’re exposed to everyday. Unfortunately, just pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. The only way trafficking can be eradicated is if we face it head on! Volunteering is so important. Non- profits are in constant need of funding and even just an extra set of hands. As I’ve said before, you’ll be hard pressed to find a non-profit organization that turns away your offered help; they will find something for you to do. You just have to keep an open mind. Volunteers can’t expect to be working with trafficking survivors on their first day there, but maybe they need you to make calls or copies. Men and women who work in non- profit organizations are almost always under tremendous pressure. There are a million things to do and never enough time in the day. Sometimes the best way is to help those who dedicate their lives everyday to helping survivors get their lives back. Check out local organizations fighting to end human trafficking once and for all:

Amigo’s Center – Bonita Springs, FL
Argentina RATT
Bonita Assistance Program – Bonita Springs
Broward Human Trafficking Coalition
Cafe of Life – Bonita Springs
Caffa – Miami, FL
Catholic Charities Of Central Florida – Orlando, FL
Catholic Charities Of St. Petersburg – St. Pete, FL
Central America Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking (Co-Founders)
Child Rescue Network
Childrens Advocacy Center – Ft. Myers, FL
Christian Care Counseling Center
Clay Behavioral Center – Middleburg, FL
Coptic Orthodox Charities
Courtney’s House
Eden Fellowship Church – Pensacola, FL
Familia Mora Arriaga
Families First – Jacksonville, FL
Family Resource, Inc. – Pinellas Park, FL
Florida Abolitionist
Florida Commission on Human Relations
Florida League of United Latin American Citizens
Florida Migrant Interstate Program
Florida Salvation Army
Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights
Floridian Hotel, Inc. – Homestead, FL
Free International
Global Child Rescue
Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services – Clearwater, Fl
Harbor House – Orlando, Fl
Jacksonville Community Task Force – Jacksonville
Justice at the Gate – Orlando, FL
Klaas Kids
Kristi House
Marco Island Knights of Columbus
Maryknoll
Miami Movement Against Human Trafficking – Miami, Fl
Not For Sale Campaign – Los Angeles, CA
One Way Out in Ft Myers
Organization of the Americas (OAS)
Orlando Rescue and Restore Coalition
Orlando Youth for Human Rights
Project Help – Naples, FL
Ricky Martin Foundation
San Diego Bilateral Safety Corridor
South Brevard Women’s Center – Melbourne, FL
Southwest Florida Women’s Digest
Stand Up for Kids
Stop Child Trafficking of Tampa Bay
SW Florida Episcopal Diocese
SW FLorida Historical Museum, Ft. Myers
Tampa Bay Youth For Human Rights – Tampa
Tampa Human Rights Walk-a-thon
Tampa/Clearwater Rescue & Restore Coalition
Tiny Stars
Women’s Center Of Jacksonville – Jacksonville, FL
World Relief

Get involved with a local anti-trafficking organization and see how you can join the fight to end modern day slavery!

By: Danae Zimmer