For my activist project, I decided to choose a service learning component through the Shriver Center. I chose to be placed in the Samaritan Women program. The Samaritan Women is a national Christian organization providing restorative care to survivors, and bringing about an end to domestic sex trafficking through awareness, prevention, and advocacy. Our service at the Samaritan Women was gardening on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Although I have always been against human trafficking, I did not know much about its impact today. Therefore, I did some research on human trafficking and I found out that the FBI estimates about 200,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation every year. For adults, it can be trafficked for labor, such as domestic servitude, or for sex, such as forced prostitution. In the USA and globally, about 77% of victims are females. Victims can be women you see working “the block” who are forced to have sex under threat of violence. In addition, according to the UNICEF website, the United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises.
I used this service as a tool and opportunity to start my activism. Meghan Ross, who is the Volunteer Coordinator at The Samaritan Women, was the person who encouraged me to engage in this advocacy. She strongly suggested to use The Samaritan Women website as a source of information about how to get involved. Indeed, from the organization website, I found out all necessary information to engaged locally. The most challenging thing was to find people who were willing to be in this activist journey with me. I talked to my friends, and some church members, but only few showed their support (mostly those I barely know at school). Although it was frustrating, those who were interested (including my family) told me they checked the website and engaged in the way they could.
I learned that being an activist does not mean that everyone you know will necessarily support your activism, so do not be afraid to approach those you barely know because they might actually come to help.
Although this was a project for my class, I decided to keep up with this advocacy because human trafficking is still happening today, and we all need to be engaged in order to bring awareness. You do not know where or how to start this advocacy? Please visit http://thesamaritanwomen.org/anti-trafficking/ to get started!