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Passion Conference raises $3.3 million to fight human trafficking

To kick off National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, over 40,000 college students gathered in Atlanta, Georgia Jan. 2 to take a stand against modern-day slavery.

According to Passion’s website, there are currently over 27 million slaves in the world. The funds raised at the conference will be dispersed to various organizations set up to combat forced labor, child labor and sex trafficking.

The conference’s creators set a goal of $1 million, but students gave over $3.3 million to fund antislavery initiatives both in Atlanta and worldwide.

“The fact that young people gave that kind of money is extremely significant,” Susan Clark, director of APU’s American Language and Culture Institute and cofounder of World Team Foundation (a nonprofit anti-trafficking organization) said. “College students have caught the vision of not just being passionate about a cause, but taking action. It goes a long way to addressing the major needs that we have in fighting human trafficking.”

In Georgia, about 374 girls are commercially and sexually exploited each month, according to the Governor’s Office for Children and Families website. Some of the money from the conference is going to support nonprofits based in Atlanta.

As for the Los Angeles area, the Long Beach Press-Telegram released an article citing that five men, three of which are members of the East Coast Crips gang, were arrested last month on charges of transporting girls from the Inland Empire to North Hollywood to work as prostitutes. The Los Angeles Innocence Lost Task Force led the investigation, which resulted in their arrest.

Senior communication studies major and leader of APU’s Stop the Traffik club, Kaila Isaacson, first heard about human trafficking at an awareness event. She is passionate about doing whatever she can to help end the violence.

“Students who say they are waiting until they have more money or time to do something about a cause usually don’t end up doing anything,” Isaacson said. “It all starts with the issue being birthed in our hearts right now.”

The problem of human trafficking is not without solutions. Many students and faculty on campus are dedicated to learning more about human trafficking, raising awareness and searching for solutions. Clark’s organization focuses most of its efforts in Thailand, but also have big plans for the Los Angeles area.

The World Team Foundation is raising money to open a restoration center for trafficked minors in the San Gabriel Valley. They hope it will serve as a drop-in center to start.

Clark said she has high hopes that the APU community will become active in ending trafficking. Currently, there is not a social justice office on campus to deal with issues like human trafficking .

“I’d like to see some type of coalition that comes about on our campus. Human trafficking is the second largest global crime and I would love for students to have specific steps they could take to make an impact,” Clark said.

Currently, the Office of World Missions provides students with two opportunities to go on summer missions that combat human trafficking. They send out a team to Cambodia, where students work with White Dove, an organization that focuses on rehabilitating victims of trafficking through counseling and therapy. A team also travels to Nepal to partner with Tiny Hands International, an organization that patrols the India boarder looking for traffickers and victims.

Eddy Martinez, an APU alumnus, went on the Nepal mission trip last summer.

“We just really got to see how God was using these stations to protect the sacredness and the life of these women. It was tough for me personally, because I felt that this is going on every day,” Martinez said. “These guys are trying to bring women across the boarder and tricking them into a life in complete hellish environments and places that are inhumane.”

The Office of World Missions still has limited space available on this summer’s trips. For more information, contact owmstu@apu.edu

If you are interested in getting involved with the Stop the Traffik club on campus, contact apustopthetraffikclub@gmail.com.

www.theclause.org/2012/01/passion-conference-raises-3-3-million-to-fight-human-trafficking/

 2012-01-26

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