Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eye Black Challengers - Cajuns Against Trafficking


Not long ago we received a friend suggestion on Facebook, introducing us to Julie Emerson. And whoever sent it, we thank you! Julie then emailed us because she noticed our link to the A21 campaign.

We especially like her story because she, and her friend Natalie, took small steps to help combat a global problem. The one thing we hope you take from the eye black challengers is that starting small is the best way to start, and that slowly, but surely, you can make a big impact in the lives of others.

The 2008 release of the movie Taken caused many in the United States and around the world to acknowledge the rapidly growing crime of human trafficking. Human trafficking is the fastest growing organized crime in the world. Currently, an estimated 27 million people are being held against their wills for purposes of forced labor and, most commonly, sexual exploitation. The overwhelming majority of these victims are women and children with 14 being the average age of a sex trafficking victim.

Most of these people are recruited by abduction, false job advertisement and selling of children. Main source countries include those in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. These victims are often moved from country to country to avoid being found until they are settled in a destination country of greater economic stability like the US, Japan and Canada or that has legal prostitution like Greece and the Netherlands. Sex trafficking victims are forced to service as many as 40 men per day. Ninety-nine percent of victims have not been rescued…

YET…

In March 2008, Equip and Empower Ministries in Sydney, Australia launched the A21 Campaign in an effort to combat human trafficking. In December 2008, the first shelter was opened in Greece. With offices in Australia, the US and Greece, A21 has since helped trafficking victims in Greece, Ukraine and Bulgaria with medical care, counseling and temporary shelter. The next phase in the A21 plan is to establish permanent shelters in major source countries and facilitate volunteers with experience in medical, legal, educational and counseling fields. The possibilities for growth are endless.

My friend, Natalie, worked with Equip and Empower in Sydney for a year after graduating from LSU. She was an instrumental part of starting A21. She returned to Baton Rouge in 2008 to begin law school. As most international organizations go, the best way to raise funds and awareness is through a grassroots effort in the local community. It was with this idea that Natalie and a group of LSU students began Tigers Against Trafficking on LSU’s campus earlier this year. Their breakout event, which was a 5K held last March, was a tremendous success. TAT has also begun to combat the types of trafficking that occur locally in the Baton Rouge area.

After hearing all of Natalie’s testimonies from her experiences as she traveled around the world investigating human trafficking, I was inspired to begin Cajuns Against Trafficking at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.

Our first event will also be a 5K on Friday, November 20. From my short time of promoting awareness for human trafficking, I have found that so many people are broken over this injustice. They want to help, but have no idea where to start. It is through these efforts that we hope to provide an outlet for people to get involved in fighting this atrocity. Many people want to know more. So many groups and clubs have requested that we give presentations, which we gladly do.

We now have organizations on three college campuses and more are brewing. It is our hope that college students will gather behind this effort because together we can make the difference.

For more information and updates, join our Facebook page: Cajuns Against Trafficking.

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CATrafficking.

Our website (www.cajunsagainsttrafficking.com) is currently under works. It will be available in the coming days! Registration for the 5K and opportunities for donations/sponsorships will be available there.

Please visit www.theA21Campaign.org for more information on human trafficking. (and their twitter page: twitter.com/TheA21Campaign)

If you would like to begin a club on your campus, please contact us for more information and assistance. (JuJuEm22988 (at) aol.com)



To our TriDelt and DG friends out there, how about forming a Gators against Trafficking group? As this is a crime that overwhelmingly exploits women, please seriously consider joining and/or supporting these groups' efforts!



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