Photo and Story by Robin Duff / Contributing Writer
Eradicate Human Trafficking, an event meant to bring awareness to human trafficking, was held in the MTSU Student Union Commons on Tuesday. The event, created by C.C. Graves, an MTSU graduate student, brought together several organizations dedicated to identifying, stopping and rehabilitating the victims of human trafficking.
“I wanted people to know about these wonderful organizations that are out here fighting this fight,” Graves said.
Many of the groups at the event are based locally but operate abroad to help victims of trafficking.
One of these groups, Freedom’s Promise, is based in Nashville and works with communities in Cambodia to prevent vulnerable women and children from becoming victims of trafficking and exploitation.
“We do prevention of human trafficking through community development,” said Shannon Gygi, Director of Community Engagement with Freedom’s Promise. “We do that through education, healthcare and healthcare training, job training and job skills development.”
By focusing on prevention, Freedom’s Promise gives communities the power to keep themselves and their children safe from exploitation.
“In the areas we’ve been working, the prevalence of trafficking has gone from 65 percent down to 10 percent,” Gygi said.
Other groups at the fair have more of a presence in the United States and Tennessee. Rescue 1 Global has an office in Brentwood and goes into the community to identify and rehabilitate victims of trafficking.
“We do prevention, rescue and restoration,” said Angie Outlaw, an executive assistant with Rescue 1.
Rescue 1 is currently in the process of opening the first home for minors who have been victims of human trafficking in Tennessee.
“Nashville has a couple of places for adult women, but we don’t have anywhere for minors,” Outlaw said. “The house is ready and we’re just waiting for the stamp of approval from the mental health department.”
Thistle Farms in Nashville helps survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction by giving them jobs creating handcrafted body and home products. Dorris Walker, an addiction and trafficking survivor, has been with the company since 2009.
“I was in my addiction for 26 year, and I was being trafficked, on the street, for 20 years. I thought I was going to die out there,” Walker said. “Now I have my life back.”
The money made from selling Thistle Farm’s products goes to the women in the program and to helping more women get off the streets.
Graves urges community members to watch for possible cases of trafficking in Middle Tennessee.
“If you ever think you’re dealing with trafficking,” said Graves, “1-888-3737-888. That’s the number you want to call. It’s the national hotline for Human Trafficking.”
More information on the groups featured at the event can be found at the following websites:
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