Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How can I help?

Recently, I have been getting numerous questions from other people surrounding what they can do to combat human trafficking. In the past I have explained several different ways to prevent and identify a victim of human trafficking, so now I want to share with you a few things that anyone can do on a personal level to make a difference and join the fight against modern day slavery. Even though they are a variety of different ways a person can help, the six steps to taking action I am going to discuss include: advocate, connect, volunteer, raise awareness, fundraise, and attend. 

Advocate – Human trafficking affects every community, no matter size or location. Effective legislation is key and you can follow what your state is doing at the following website:  http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action/advocate. You can take action by joining thousands of people across the country that are taking steps in their area to end modern day slavery. 

Connect – There are many non-profit and governmental organizations that have been established to fight against modern day slavery. Just to name a few, International Justice Mission (IJM), Polaris Project, Not For Sale Campaign, and the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP). In order to stay informed it is beneficial to stay plugged in to the online community as well as having access to the most current online actions. 

Volunteer – When different programs are being held in your area dealing with human trafficking, you can make a difference by just showing up and volunteering. If you feel you want to take it a step further there are opportunities through organizations, such as the ones I listed above, for you to go on mission trips to other countries, volunteer in the offices of these organizations, or apply to a fellowship program. There are always fundraising events taking place and there is always the need for people to help make these events successful. 

Raise Awareness – A person can raise awareness firstly by being an activist and spreading the message of why modern day slavery needs to be defeated. You could inform people by writing a letter in the local newspaper to your editor and highlighting the cause and what people can do to prevent it from happening to themselves. Many schools, colleges, and books stores have book clubs. There are several books that focus on this issue, start a book club focusing on books pertaining to modern day slavery, meet and have discussions on the books. You could also plan a movie night, whether it is at a church, on campus, or in your home, depending how large you anticipate your audience to be. Refer to the following website for a list of documentaries, films and news investigations that have been released pertaining to modern day slavery. http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action/raise-awareness/plan-a-movie-night

Fundraise – This goes hand in hand with volunteering and raising awareness. You can fundraise by hosting an event, such as a movie night. Other options include having a garage sale, bake sale, and auction, or raise funds by dedicating a race or sporting event to the cause. Above all, be creative and make sure to advertise where the funds raised will be going to, whether it is a non-profit you are working with or a specific group of people you want it to go to. There is also the option to collect clothes or shoes that are in good condition that can be supplied to a local shelter that is housing victims. The sky is the limit when looking at different fundraising opportunities. 

Attend – Maybe the case is that you just want to learn more about what modern day slavery is, I than would encourage you to attend an event pertaining to this issue. This way you can learn more about human trafficking but also connect with other people who may have the same interests as you. 

These are just a few ways for people to take a step up, make a difference and combat human trafficking. The options of what people can do on an individual basis are endless. If you would like more information or ideas of how you can bring change take a look at the following websites: http://www.ijm.org/get-involved, http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action,  http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/action/, and  http://www.itemp.org/whatyoucandonow.html. Together, we can end slavery in our lifetime!

 Yours truly,
 Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011