Early this summer, Jon Tuveson spent a weekend visiting every gas station off Interstate 25's entrance and exit ramps from North Denver to Pueblo. As a staff member for Youth With a Mission's Justice Initiative program, Tuveson, with a group of college students enrolled in YWAM's Discipleship Training School, dropped off information packets to station owners about how to identify human trafficking and what to do about it.
It would be four months before Tuveson heard anything about the visits. That's when a fellow member of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado stopped for gas in Castle Rock, and while buying a candy bar, overheard the attendant telling some other patrons about how to respond to signs of human trafficking.
Surprised and excited, she approached the attendant, who said that a group had dropped off information a few months prior.
"Do you see much trafficking here?" Tuveson's colleague asked.
"Oh, yeah, we see the things they talk about all the time," the attendant replied, adding that they've since made numerous reports to CoNEHT, the statewide trafficking hotline.
Catalyzed by I-25's status as a major trafficking corridor, another program, iEmpathize, has also taken to the streets. Just this summer, the Boulder-based nonprofit, which uses immersive mixed-media exhibits to spread awareness about human trafficking, began production on a film to be used to train truck drivers.
Speaking earlier this month at an iEmpathize event at New Life Church, founder Brad Riley put it this way: "Truckers can be the watchdogs for our children."
You may not be a trucker, or have the time to drive across the Front Range like Tuveson. But that doesn't mean you can't fight trafficking in other ways.
Aside from educating yourself by reading and attending events such as the Task Force's symposium this weekend, you can also participate in other local events. The Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk is an annual fundraiser that takes place each fall in more than 35 locations across the U.S. and raises money to address the demand side of trafficking. SCTNow gathers donations to support the work of retired elite military operatives who are committed to bringing down child-sex buyers, in the United States and internationally.
You can also address human trafficking simply by paying attention to where you spend your money. Visit shops such as Yobel Market in Old Colorado City, which sells fair-trade products. As co-owner Sarah Ray says, buying fair-trade "confronts poverty at its core," and therefore trafficking. When a family has the option to sell a craft or a goat, she says, they're less likely to sell a child — and then that child won't end up in debt bondage in Bangkok or Colorado Springs.
By working directly with and training families in crafts across the globe, and by supporting other similar projects such as Sak Saum from Cambodia and Love Calcutta Arts from India, Yobel Market provides an expanded market and a source of consistent, dignified income to those struggling with poverty.
Even when shopping online you can support fair-trade efforts, such as eBay-powered World of Good (worldofgood.com). Co-founded by Colorado College class of 1998 graduate Siddharth Sanghvi, World of Good is an online marketplace that brings together "thousands of People Positive and Eco Positive sellers and products." On the site, you can search by product, seller or social impact.
Whatever you choose to do, Ray says, know that you can make a difference: "A lot of heart and a lot of passion can take you a long way."
— Kirsten Akens
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