In my newsletter, I mention that in 2012 the International Labor Organization estimated that 20.9 million people (adults and children) are human trafficking victims worldwide.
This number is an estimate because the true numbers are unclear since many cases go unreported.
So, what is Human Trafficking?
The Department of Homeland Security explains it like this:
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking generates many billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.
Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.”
I also mentioned that this isn’t only an international problem, but that it’s happening in many of our local communities.
It’s happening to our friends – our daughters – our sisters.
Back in 2011, a pair of friends – Becky Sullivan & Heather Evans – saw the need for a community led initiative against human trafficking.
From that need, a grassroots coalition called Valley Against Sex Trafficking, or VAST, was ignited and through Awareness, Action and Aftercare, their mission is to eliminate human sex trafficking.
One such organization that provides aftercare services and is committed to restoring hope after sexual exploitation is called the Truth Home.
If you’ve been following Handmade Hive for awhile, you may have already heard us talking about this therapeutic residential home for survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. It’s a safe place where motivated women are able to rebuild their lives through intensive therapy in a warm family setting for up to 12 months.
Over the past few years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at the Truth Home working on various creative projects with the participants, raised money to purchase new sewing machines as well as donated funds to VAST and the Truth Home from the sales of events Handmade Hive has participated in and through sales on our online marketplace.
And we’re still committed to making a difference!
We’re getting ready to make a special announcement on November 1st on how you can experience shopping, make deeper connections with local small businesses AND join in the fight against sex trafficking in a whole new way! Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and sign-up for our newsletter to find out what we’re up to.
So the question is…
There are so many ways you can get involved:
The easiest way is to BECOME AWARE! Educate yourself on the issue of human sex trafficking. Find a local organization that you can volunteer with, like VAST, that informs and educates the community, as well as supports and fights for the rights of the victims of human sex trafficking.
SPEAK UP – If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). Call our hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Hotline Call Specialists are available 24/7 to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available. To submit an online tip, go to: www.traffickingresourcecenter.org
DONATE – One of VAST’s founding organizers, Beck Sullivan, is running in the NYC Marathon on November 11, 2016 for survivors of human trafficking and Restore NYC. Restore NYC is a non-profit committed to ending sex trafficking in New York and restoring the well-being and independence of foreign national survivors. For more information on her run or to donate, please visit her fundraising page here: Beck Sullivan – Restore NYC
You can also donate directly to organizations like VAST, the Truth Home, Restore NYC or any other organization that is committed to ending sex trafficking.
SHOP – With the holiday season quickly approaching, think about how you can use your purchases this year to help make a difference!
Support a local small business and support Beck at the same time! If you or someone you know is into essential oils, you can purchase Handmade Diffuser Jewelry by The Oily Bead and 10% of all proceeds will go to Beck’s campaign.
And don’t forget, you can also shop on Handmade Hive’s Online Marketplace!
Aren’t we all just tired of buying things???