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Sep 28

2017

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Natural Disasters Impact Human Trafficking

Written by Mitchell Waters, SLC Volunteer

Saying that our country has had a difficult time lately would be an understatement. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey severely damaged much of Florida and Houston, wild fires have burned nearly a million acres of the forest in Montana. California, Washington, and wildfires have consumed precious pieces of land in Idaho as well.

With these tragedies and natural disasters occurring in our own back yard, it is important to understand how they impact human trafficking. Often times, in the aftermath of war, natural disasters, or major economic transitions, human traffickers can more easily exploit victims. They take advantage of shattered lives, ruined homes and broken economies. Joshua Finn, an analyst at the Canadian Department of Transportation wrote, “The added shock of a natural disaster to an already vulnerable population can lead to an environment where human traffickers are more likely to be profitable. This is important to be aware of as our nation begins to clean up the aftermath of these disasters.” (2016)

Second Life Chattanooga’s mission is to “create awareness that drives action through collaborative relationships with like-minded organizations and individuals in order to end human sex trafficking in Greater Chattanooga/Southeast Tennessee.” By raising awareness about how traffickers exploit already vulnerable areas after a natural disaster, we aim to shore up our defenses in Tennessee.

Sources:

http://www.iar-gwu.org/sites/default/files/articlepdfs/IAR%202016%20-%2004%20Human%20Trafficking%20-%20Joshua%20Finn.pdf

 

Sep 01

2017

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Labor Day

Written by Mitchell Waters, SLC Volunteer

As we are coming up on Labor Day weekend, many of us are making plans about what we will be doing with our family or friends. Maybe we are going to the mountains or beach on holiday. Or maybe we are having a “staycation” where we get to sleep in. Maybe we have done some extra work this week just so we can truly relax on Monday.

Labor Day became an American holiday in 1894 to acknowledge the hard work of the American labor industry. Labor has always been highly valued and it is one of the most valuable commodities in our world. There is a strong sense of value and meaning we can derive from our work. Now imagine being forced to work as a commodity void of any true meaningful purpose. You are just a commodity to be bought and sold for the sole purpose of someone else’s gain. Our history has a very dark and unfortunate history with slavery. This has not changed much today. One of the darkest times in our American history still continues today, however, it has been made more covert.

Making an estimated $30 billion dollars a year and enslaving up to 293,000 Americans under 18 for commercial slave trade, human trafficking is an epidemic. If you are moved by these numbers and the inhumanity of the past that haunts us still today, eliminating this epidemic may feel like a daunting or impossible task.  I would encourage all of you to, on this Labor Day, take some time to research and learn about what you can do to join us in this fight. As you have a relaxing day off of work, pull up your computer and look for ways to contribute. Second Life Chattanooga is on the forefront of this fight in our community. Take some time to donate, learn about volunteering or talk to your friends and family about this issue.

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Chattanooga Coalition Against Human Trafficking General Meeting happening on September 27 at 11:30 at the Development Resource Center, 1250 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN! This is a free event open to the public and it will be a great opportunity to learn more about human trafficking and how to get involved!

[1] http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day

[2] Estes Weiner report, Univ. of Penn, 2001

Jan 18

2017

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New Beginnings

Written by Eryn Hawks, SLC Volunteer

 

Last week, my friend and I sat down at the beginning of the New Year and wrote out our “2017 Bucket List.” Some of the things on our lists were silly and others were more serious goals and aspirations…but when we were done, we found ourselves excited and hopeful for what 2017 may bring. We felt rejuvenated and motivated.

Most of us can relate with this feeling of hopefulness of a New Year. January marks the time when we hit the gym again or start eating better (however long it lasts). But it occurs to me as I write this that not everyone is able to hope for new beginnings.

I am blessed to have the freedom to dream, hope, and create aspirations for my year. Even if I fall off the bandwagon with some of my resolutions, (Let’s be honest…I have yet to hit the gym!) it is because I made the decision not to continue. I have the freedom of choice.

I am struck by the fact that National Human Trafficking Awareness month lands in the month of new beginnings. What better time for us to bring awareness and take action for those who don’t have the hope or freedom of choice that we often take for granted?

In recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness month, Second Life is holding its 6th annual “Unite. Wear White.” event. We invite you to join us and hear the story of Margeaux Gray, a survivor of trafficking who has experienced this second life firsthand, and is now an advocate and speaker. This event will be held at 9:45 a.m. on January 27, at the Double Tree in downtown Chattanooga.

As you continue to make decisions about what you want for yourself in 2017, take a moment to come out and celebrate one survivor’s story. You may leave with a new resolve to help others find their own freedom this year.

We hope to see you there! And don’t forget to wear something white!