BUIES CREEK – When three dedicated students began a journey of education and empowerment more than three months ago, they had no idea their perseverance would result in reaching more than 200 fellow students and staff members.
Junior education major Lindsay Frye, junior education major John Mark McGee and sophomore psychology major Jordan Zepher attended the PASSION 2012 conference in Atlanta with 20,000 other young adults eager bridge their faith with social justice. They left stunned and carrying a burden to share the tragedy of a $32 billion industry affecting approximately 27 million people around the world — human trafficking.
“I knew people were trafficked into sex slavery, but I thought that only happened in Europe and Asia," said Frye. "I had no idea the U.S. is a hub for trafficking for slavery as well."
Before the first week of the spring semester had finished, the three had contacted Campus Ministry to see what could be done to spread the word about human trafficking on campus. Six weeks of meetings, brainstorming and praying culminated into a series of events the week of March 26, including a human trafficking exhibit, an offering of letters to Congress and a discussion panel with a local sex trafficking recovery organization.
The highlight of the week, the said, was the exhibit in Turner Auditorium, a series of interactive stations, statistics and fictional stories illustrating the causes and effects of human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.
“My heart was broken by this injustice, and all it took was for me to open my eyes," Zepher said. "That’s what I wanted to do the exhibit. I knew that once others knew what human trafficking is, the indifference for some would be broken. Even it was just one person humbled and burdened by this injustice, it would be enough."
As students filed into the auditorium and waited in line to write letters to Congress, the three couldn’t believe their eyes.
“We had around 200 students come. Lots of prayers were said and lots of letters were written,” said Frye. “I think it was very successful.”
The panel discussion later in the week featured Executive Director Abbi Tenaglia and Program Coordinator Daphne Meekz of Transforming Hope Ministries, a nonprofit organization in Durham with a mission to house and help recover female victims of sex trafficking between the ages of 12 and 17. Zepher’s on-stage interview of Tenaglia and Meekz reflected the awareness campaign’s most crucial goal: to show students how they can take advantage of their age to take action.
“College students can raise awareness and influence others to act,” said McGee. “We can support organizations combating human trafficking, whether financially or prayerfully. We can write our representatives in Congress telling them about human trafficking and its impact in North Carolina.”
The letter writing station at the exhibit garnered 36 hand-written letters to North Carolina Senator Richard Burr.
Zepher echoed McGee’s sentiments.
“College students can do so much, more than we realize. By being aware of this issue we are already heading in the right direction,” she said.
Click here to view the Facebook photo album of the Exhibit.
Story: Sara Acosta, NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA