Raising Hope for Human Trafficking

Raising Hope for Human Trafficking

By Kendall Ota ’19

Hope Rising, a Point Loma Nazarene University conference to raise awareness of human trafficking and funds for survivors, took place on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Isabella Castro ’19, Lauren Amaral ’18 and I were invited to represent OLP and attend the luncheon that honors leaders in the San Diego community who are committed to stopping human trafficking. According to the International Labor Organization, 20.9 million people are forced to provide labor worldwide, and San Diego is one of the top 13 cities in the US with the highest rates.

During the luncheon, guest speakers educated the audience about human trafficking statistics, risk factors and resources. We heard from a human trafficking survivor named Rachel Thomas who, while attending Emory University, was offered a modeling job that turned out to be a recruitment for prostitution. Ms. Thomas was an intelligent, beautiful young woman who seemed too smart to be tricked. She shared her personal story and discussed the emotional struggles she had overcome. Now an advocate for victims, Ms. Thomas designed “Ending the Game,” which has lessons and activities that help victims achieve empowerment.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation aspires to assist in efforts to end human trafficking. In addition to hosting Hope Rising, it designed the “kNOw MORE!” program and sponsors Beauty for Ashes. “kNOw MORE!” Is an interactive human trafficking awareness and prevention curriculum for middle and high schoolers that is used by the San Diego Unified School District. We were fortunate to have PLNU members of “kNOw MORE!” perform a snippet of a skit they present at schools. The actors encouraged the audience to yell “Stop!” any time we recognized a red flag of human trafficking, at which point they would pause to explain how a young adult in that position could take action steps to protect him/herself. OLP students will have the opportunity to learn about “kNOw MORE!” when it comes to campus soon. Beauty for Ashes is a scholarship that PLNU gives to survivors of human trafficking. At PLNU, they can heal and study towards a college degree that can open doors for them and improve their lives.