Categories for Arts and Creative Activism

A Simple Act That Supports Survivors of Human Trafficking in Worthwhile Wear Programs

June 25, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, May 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Over 25 million people are trafficked worldwide, leaving many survivors with inadequate resources for dealing with trauma, abuse, and addiction. But despite these odds, there’s hope and a way for everyone to be a part of the solution.

Now, through July 30, everyone, everywhere is invited to walk, bike, run, swim or even kayak to support survivors of human trafficking through Worthwhile Wear’s national “Act Challenge.” For every mile logged at WorthwhileWear.org or shared on social media using @WorthwhileWear, Act Challenge sponsors will make a financial donation per mile that helps provide safe housing and restorative programming to survivors of human trafficking in America. The Act Challenge is a free event and open to all ages and abilities.

Schools, businesses, gyms, churches and even other organizations are capitalizing on the opportunity this event offers. Educate students, clients and colleagues on the issue of human trafficking, and then host a walk/jog/ride to make a positive impact in the life of someone affected by trafficking.

The goal of this year’s Act Challenge is to complete 30,000 miles by July 30, “World Day Against Trafficking.” Join everyone in raising awareness about the issue of trafficking and help expand housing capacity and outreach programs for survivors by logging miles today.

To join this effort, follow these steps:

  1. Track: Log miles while walking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, etc.
  2. Record: Submit completed miles on the submission form at www.worthwhilewear.org or post on social media and tag @WorthwhileWear
  3. Repeat: Miles may be submitted every day through July 30.

Read the full story on Globe News Wire.

Documentary Made In Metro Detroit Focuses On Demand Of Human Trafficking

March 10, 2022

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A new movie about human trafficking made right here in metro Detroit has now been released to the public.

The movie called “Men Who Buy Sex” was made by the Wayne County Medical Society Foundation and Digital Media Works. It focuses on the demand side of human trafficking, hoping to bring an end to the epidemic.

The film may be new, but the problem is not. Sex trafficking has existed in metro Detroit for decades, and experts say it’s still happening every day.

“Absolutely, human trafficking is something that is happening every day,” said Amy Allen, a forensic interview specialist with Homeland Security Investigations. “We know there are lots of youth and women being trafficked every day here in the metro Detroit area.”

Allen is based out in metro Detroit and works with sex trafficking victims in the region. She says many of them report being trafficked up to 12 or 13 times a day to paying customers.

“The demand side of trafficking has really been something that hasn’t been talked about that much,” Allen said.

Read the full article by Brett Kast on WXYZ Detroit.

Fighting Human Trafficking In Maine With Coffee

May 30, 2021

MAINE, Maine — Federal authorities say Maine is considered a “source” state for human traffickers from Boston and New York, who prey on women and children struggling with poverty, family turmoil, sexual abuse, or drug addiction.

An estimated 200 to 300 people are trafficked for sex every year, according to a study commissioned for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

A Windham man hopes to empower consumers to help fight human trafficking in our state by tapping into the country’s multi-billion-dollar ground coffee market.

As a father of two, Anthony McKeown will never forget how he felt when he saw images of child victims of human trafficking.

“It just gnawed at me, it just gnawed at me,” McKeown said.

According to the U.S. State Department, more than half of criminal human trafficking involves children and a very very small percentage of these children are rescued.

Read the full story by Vivien Leigh on News Center Maine.

Wisconsin Woman Uses Unique Platform To Fight Human Trafficking

May 9, 2021

SUSSEX, Wis. – A local woman is using her platform as a business owner to raise awareness about an issue that isn’t always talked about, but is happening in our own backyard: human trafficking.

It’s not so much the product the Waukesha County woman creates, but the message on it that could save lives. Even more important is where they’re being placed.

Inside Sussex Injection Molding, a life-saving number is being printed on what typically might be overlooked.

“Now is a time for everyone to kind of take action and elevate their voice,” said Ann Riphenburg, founder and owner of reCollect2 Company. “It was important for us to say, ‘OK, how can we come alongside our customers in the industry and continue this momentum?'”

Inside Sussex Injection Molding, a life-saving number is being printed on what typically might be overlooked.

“Now is a time for everyone to kind of take action and elevate their voice,” said Ann Riphenburg, founder and owner of reCollect2 Company. “It was important for us to say, ‘OK, how can we come alongside our customers in the industry and continue this momentum?'”

Read the full story bt Kasey Chronis on Fox 6 Milwaukee.

Designing With a Heart: How a Dressmaker Uses Fashion to Fight Human Trafficking

March 25, 2021

CINCINNATI — In a sea of white, there’s a beaded bodice, tulle skirt or sleek silhouette that suits every bride, and behind each beautiful gown is a careful, meticulous hand and dedicated designer.

At Renée Grace Bridal, that’s Teresa Eklund. The designer has more than 30 years of experience designing wedding gowns and five years running her own business, but what sets her work apart is its heart. She does her best to ensure each gown is as ethically-made as possible.

Many beautiful gowns have an ugly history due to fast fashion, labor exploitation and human trafficking.

As a seasoned designer, Eklund wanted to examine her role industry’s role in that system.

About 10 years ago, she and her husband Steve made a trip to India and Moldova for research. There she learned just how common trafficking is and how inextricable it is from many of the products we consume.

“Women in Moldova have a 90% chance of being trafficked of some sort,” Eklund said.

That can be for the sex trade, debt bondage or forced labor. The fashion industry depends heavily on that last one, using sweatshop labor to produce inexpensive clothing they can import and sell for cheap.

“There has been a trend over the last probably 20 years of what we call in the industry fast fashion,” Eklund said. “That turn around of fashion that people want really quickly. They want the consumerism that’s fed into that.”

Eklund said even higher-end portions of the fashion industry are not immune.

“Most wedding gowns are made in China or Eastern Europe,” she said.

When Eklund started her own company, she wanted to make a difference.

“I have less than 10% of my fabrics from China,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of my laces come from either France, Italy or England.”

The most significant difference though is her staff.

Read the full story by Michelle Alfini on Spectrum News 1.

Meet The Aussie Jean Brand Taking On Human Trafficking – And Winning

March 18, 2021

“I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.”

When Liam Neeson said this line in the 2008 hit film Taken, it went on to become one of the movie’s most famous quotes.

However, the film – which has a narrative around human trafficking – had another, perhaps more significant legacy: the birth of Outland Denim, an Australian brand working to fight the crime.

“[Taken] was our introduction to the issue of human trafficking because we really had no idea,” Outland Denim co-founder Erica Bartle told Yahoo Finance.

The movie sparked an interest in the issue that was galvanized when she and her husband came across an NGO working to address it a few years later. Around 2.5 million people become human trafficking victims every year.

Bartle and her husband James Bartle decided to take action. They scraped together some money and sent James on a field trip to Cambodia and Thailand to better understand the issue. Bartle herself went into research mode, identifying the resources they could use to fight back and the hurdles they would face.

In 2016, six years after they decided to tackle human trafficking, they launched Outland Denim.

The clothing brand is an ethical and sustainable brand that provides training and employment for women who have experienced sex trafficking. It aims to eliminate the crime and has more than 80 employees across Asia and Australia who are paid living wages – a rarity in the $2.5 trillion fashion sector.

Outland Denim also uses up to 86 percent less water, 83 percent less chemicals and 57 percent less energy in its Cambodian wash and finishing facilities by incorporating new technologies.

Today, the brand has fans including Leonardo Dicaprio and Meghan Markle, potentially the most famous woman alive. The company had to take on an additional 46 staff when the Duchess of Sussex wore the black Harriet jeans on tour in Australia, sending royal watchers into a shopping frenzy.

Read the full story by Lucy Dean on Yahoo! Finance.

The Price of Freedom

October 27, 2020

It is said that childhood is the best gift given to us by God. Everything is different when you’re a child: the trees are higher, the colours are more vivid than ever, and every new day is a new opportunity.

However, Childhood is not the same for all. For some it is waking up at six in the morning and working till the sun sets; it is staying away from their parents to earn minimum wages; it is working in inhumane environments in hopes of a brighter future. This is the reality of child labour.

Child Labour is experienced by every one in ten children around the globe. At the age when children should worry about their marks they are worrying about their health and economic status. But how can we blame these innocent angels. Uneducated parents are one of the major sources that induce child labour. It is the children of the poor and marginalized communities who are often trafficked to be forced into labour. Parents of these children are either betrayed or lured due to their poor socio-economic conditions thus forcing them to ‘send’ or ‘sell’ their children for better livelihood options. The lack of awareness is a situation that traffickers exploit especially when it comes to uneducated poor minorities living in slums and other backward regions in the country. Traffickers promise daily wages to parents of young children and transport them to big cities where they are often treated as commodities. Families in dire financial conditions are often approached by traffickers with an offer to buy their children and with no other escape from their pitiful conditions, parents comply.

To read the full story by Nikeeta Singh on Beyond the Page: Click Here

June, 2020 Monthly News Letter

June 1, 2020

Focus of this issue:

Art and Human Trafficking

Art therapy helps survivors of human trafficking give voice to the trauma of trafficking and helps in their rehabilitation process. The power of art is also used to raise awareness about human trafficking. 

To view the current issue: Click Here

Stop Trafficking Newsletter is produced by US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, to serve as a forum for exchange among religious congregations and their collaborating organizations:

  • to promote awareness regarding human trafficking;
  • to exchange best practices in advocacy for and empowerment of survivors of human trafficking;
  • to recommend actions to counter human trafficking;
  • to share information about survivor services.

We are grateful for all of the sponsors of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter. For the list of our sponsors: Click Here

If your community is not currently a sponsor but would like to be, please contact Jennifer Reyes Lay.

USCSAHT Members Take Action to Raise Awareness and End Human Trafficking

February 18, 2020

We are so proud of our many members throughout the country who planned and attended events throughout January and February for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the World Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of survivors of human trafficking! Below is just a sample of these many efforts to raise awareness, end human trafficking, and support survivors.

Many USCSAHT members participated in #WearBlueDay to raise awareness about human trafficking on January 11, 2020. Here are some of the photos that were sent in:

Sisters of Mercy

Members of the Divine Savior Catholic Parish

Members of Migrant and Refugee Services with the USCCB

Freedom Walkers on Hollywood Boulevard

By Bob Juárez, Member, Southern California Partners for Global Justice (Official Sponsor of this event)

January 11, 2020

A brisk 43° morning on the 2020 National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, was met by about 300 enthusiastic families, teens and adults of all ages. They gathered at Blessed Sacrament Jesuit Parish in Hollywood. After a warm welcome from Dr. Yolanda Brown, the parish life director, we prayed, listened, walked and shouted! Heather Bland, CEO of My Refuge House, which offers hope, safety, and a path of restoration in Cebu, Philippines for girls rescued from commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and abuse, led the event with exuberance. She called out families, high schools and youth service agencies; members of the Los Angeles Police Department, of the LA Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, and abolitionists of many agencies, including the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (CASTLA). Among the walkers were women religious of at least seven orders, the Southern California Partners for Global Justice, and other faith-based entities.

We were treated to the inspirational true story from Margeaux, herself a survivor of trafficking. Her resilience was palpable, drawing us vicariously into the dark world of human exploitation and moving us to embody the day’s theme: “Do Something!” The walk was accompanied with drumming by the international men’s spirituality group ILLUMAN, while two great cheerleaders, Giovanni Perez and Maria Elena Perales, led us in bilingual English and Spanish chants, calling for the end of human exploitation and trafficking.
 
The 1.5-mile walk took us on to the famous Hollywood Boulevard, where the LAPD patrol cars cruising by were met with cheers from the walkers in gratitude for their protective presence. Walkers talked to and passed out information to passersby, asking them to join our efforts. As we concluded, spontaneous drumming, dancing, and cheers abrupted on the atrium of the church, joyfully bringing our simple, but meaningful, action to a close. All walked away evermore aware of how important this work is to end human exploitation and trafficking!

Ministries of the Felician Sisters:

Madonna University Engages Students in S.O.A.P. Project

As part of the Madonna University Martin Luther King Jr. week-long celebration, Madonna University students and staff helped put labels on 10,000 bars of soap. These soaps will be distributed to hotels and motels in the Metro Detroit area during Super Bowl weekend, and the International Auto Show in June. The labels provide victims of human trafficking the National Human Trafficking Hotline number to call or text to get help if they are being forced to do something against their will.  The photos show the students and staff in action. The project took about 3 hours to complete.

Angela Hospice Collects Items for Survivors

We have a bulletin board dedicated to information about the Awareness Month and all team members have been alerted to its presence. This is a follow up to a project we completed during Mission & Heritage Week when we collected 800+ back to school and toiletry items for Vista Maria, a local ministry which provides housing, counseling, and other types of support to girls and young women who have escaped human trafficking in the area. 

Out of the Shadows – Human Trafficking Vigil and Panel

On January 11th, Resurrection Catholic Church in Greenbay, WI hosted an anti-trafficking event including four panelists speaking about human trafficking from different perspectives: Morgan Meadows m. Ed. – Survivor, Sgt. Matt Wilson – Brown County Sheriff Dept., Shelby Mitchell – Victim Advocate, Sexual Assault Center, and Kimberly Hardtke – Prosecutor. The event also included a proclamation by the Mayor of Green Bay and a number of exhibitors – including Truckers Against Trafficking sponsored by a local trucking firm, Schneider National; Blue Hair Wear (wear a lock of blue hair to raise awareness of human trafficking during the month of January); the local Sexual Assault Center, and Open Door Youth; 5-Stones that works against human trafficking and has great You-Tube videos for junior high and high school age youth- see its Website. USCSAHT members Sr. Sally Ann Brickner and Sr. Celine Goessl were on the planning team.

 

Prayer Vigil for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day – Boston Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition

On January 12th, members of the Anti-Trafficking Coalition (ATC) of the Boston Unit of LCWR hosted a prayer vigil outside the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Brighton, MA. Sisters and supporters stood outside and marched along the sidewalk with signs that said “Stop Human Trafficking.” After the outdoor witness they also hosted a prayer vigil inside.

Divine Savior Catholic Parish hosts presentation on Human Trafficking

A presentation on “Human Trafficking: Supply and Demand – How This Business Impacts Our Youth” was given on Jan. 25th at Divine Savior Catholic Parish in Orangevale, CA. It was repeated after several Masses and will be repeated again on March 22nd at other Masses. We had many resources to help parents monitor online social media sites and help their kids do the same. We saw the two videos and discussed local cases of both supply (kids tricked & trafficked) and demand (stings to arrest local men). The presenters were our parish AHT committee, which includes Sr. Jean Schafer, SDS (USCSAHT board member) and Sr. Sheila Novak, SDS.

Greensburg Diocesan Council of NCCW Prayer and Outreach Group to Combat Human Trafficking – St. Bakhita Day of Prayer and Education

The Greensburg Diocesan Council of the National Council of Catholic Women Prayer & Outreach Group to Combat Human Trafficking held our 5th Annual St. Bakhita Day of Prayer & Education Saturday, February 8, 2020. Each year we try to move our event around the diocese so we can reach more parishes, groups, and individuals with the information about the horrific crime of human trafficking. This year we were hosted by Epiphany of Our Lord Parish in Monessen. We encouraged individuals to bring in new or gently used bras for Free the Girls. We had quilled cards made by rescued individuals at the Mission for El Salvador available for purchase. Janet Berna of the Pittsburgh Diocese and a Fair-Trade Ambassador with SERVV had a variety of domestic and international items available for purchase as well.

Members of our group and DCCW led 32 attendees in a prayer service from the USCSAHT that introduced them to the basic facts about St. Josephine Bakhita. Raissa Federline and Ardi Hill, of the group, presented the USCCB Become a Shepherd PowerPoint. There were materials from the USCCB, NCCW, NCOSE, USCSAHT, and Blue Campaign available for people to take and share.  The 6th annual event will be Saturday, February 6, 2021, at St. Rita Parish, Connellsville, PA from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Feb 8th Mass and Reception at St. Camillus Church – Silver Springs, MD

Photo credit: Global Sisters Report.

 
USCSAHT as a member of the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking co-sponsored a mass and reception in Silver Springs, MD at St. Camillus Church on February 8, 2020. Bishop Dorsonville, Chair of the USCCB migration committee, celebrated the Mass in honor of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of survivors of human trafficking. After the Mass all were invited to a reception and resource fair with organizations working to end human trafficking. USCSAHT was represented by Sr. Ann Scholz, SSND, chair of our advocacy committee, who shared information with participants about our work to end human trafficking and support survivors.

You can read more about the event in this article from Global Sisters Report.

Photo credit: Global Sisters Report

Together Against Trafficking Prayer Vigil – St. Louis, MO

In celebration of the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of survivors of trafficking, and the World Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, over 80 people gathered in the chapel at the Mercy Conference and Retreat Center on Monday, February 10th for a prayer service entitled, “Together Against Trafficking.” The prayer service was co-hosted by U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and the Mercy Conference and Retreat Center, and open to the public. The content of the prayer service was adapted from Talitha Kum, the international network of women religious working to end human trafficking throughout the world, and was used by dozens of sister networks throughout the world. 
During the service, four true stories of survivors of trafficking were shared from four different countries, highlighting different ways that people become victims of both sexual exploitation and forced labor. As each story was shared, a piece of a puzzle with words connected to human trafficking in various languages was placed up front, with the final piece containing the words: together against trafficking, representing the international efforts to end human trafficking.

Towards the end of the service participants were invited to write down a word they were taking with them from the experience and then post it around the puzzle. Some of the most common words were hope, love, and prayer. The gathering concluded with words from Sr. Esther Hogan, CPPS a member of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking who works with survivors of human trafficking in St. Louis. She shared about her work and encouraged all those present to join in prayer and action to end human trafficking and support survivors.

 

 

 

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Exhibition Reveals Grim Reality Of Human Trafficking

January 13, 2020

Motel X opens January 11

CINCINNATI – Since 2012, human trafficking cases have steadily increased in the United States, rising to 10,949 cases reported last year. Ohio mirrors those numbers, with over 400 cases reported in 2018. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) is hoping to increase awareness and action against human trafficking with its new exhibition Motel X. The exhibition opens January 11, 2020 – Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Cincinnati sits on one of the worst highways for human trafficking in the United States. I-75 provides an easy pipeline for traffickers to transport people thousands of miles through multiple states. Many people are unaware of the practical knowledge that could help prevent human trafficking and possibly save victims. Designed by local filmmaker Christine Marque specifically for display at NURFC, Motel X hopes to evoke an empathetic link to practical knowledge, give people the opportunity to fight against the atrocity of human trafficking and give survivors a platform to share their stories.

Motel X has been a three-year journey and I am very excited to see it come to life,” says Shrum. “My hope is that this exhibition changes the way people think about human trafficking and encourages a new generation of modern day abolitionists.”

Motel X is an interactive motel for guests to explore. As they walk through the motel door, through the room, guests encounter the story of a teenage girl forced into sex slavery by human traffickers. Exiting the room and entering the bathroom, guests are introduced to an immigrant worker inadvertently caught up in trafficking humans. Throughout the exhibition clues reveal warning signs, statistics and actions that can help combat human trafficking. Interactive clues include audio tracks, dressers with items of clothing that reveal information when moved and a bedside Bible that, when opened, reveals stark facts about human trafficking. As guests exit the bathroom, they enter a gallery that will feature artwork from local survivors.

“The fight for freedom is not one of past or future generations but is one that is being fought every day by this generation,” says Woody Keown, Jr., president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Through education and awareness, we can equip this generation to push back against those human traffickers preying on people, and we can begin to shut down the flow of humans being exploited and abused right here in Greater Cincinnati.”

Motel X will run January 11 through April 5, 2020. Visit https://freedomcenter.org/motelx to learn more.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center remains committed to ending human trafficking as part of their End Slavery Now initiative. You can learn more about the initiative at endslaverynow.org.

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About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.