By: Jenny Almquist, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Since we started our organization we have said that we do not, and likely never will, provide direct services to victims who have been sex or labor trafficked- our mission is to educate! We all know that we should never say never! The truth in that statement is that we do educate, and education will continue to be the foundation of our mission and work. However, this past year has shown us that human trafficking is complicated and educating needs to go hand in hand with serving this marginalized population.
Over the past six months, we have gone from talking to people who are concerned about the issue of human trafficking to directly assisting 10 women (some with families and young children) who have recently escaped or are in the process of being rescued from trafficking. We are working directly with local and state law enforcement toward the arrests of those who are preying on the marginalized. We had the tremendous privilege of being part of the rescue of a woman and her child this summer.
The more that we dive into this dark and complicated world, we know that education and resources are more important than ever. This includes the need to seriously address the issue of demand. Though our first reaction is often anger and disgust, it is important to understand that it is a slippery slope that often starts with one seemingly harmless click. So many men and women get caught up in the addiction of pornography, which often leads to buying sex. During Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January, we will hit this issue hard with our focus being on buyers. We will share difficult stories that help shed light into the darkness of demand.
Summer often brings different opportunities for us since most of our education happens during the school year with school presentations and other scheduled programming. This summer we have focused on training agencies who provide services such as help for runaways, trauma- informed counseling, domestic abuse shelters and correctional facilities. We have also had the opportunity for our information to be translated. We are just a little bit excited about this!
The phone calls that we receive to help at-risk youth have far exceeded our ability to serve that population. We are looking at ways to serve this population in a meaningful and impactful way. This will most likely look like community wide educational opportunities where we partner with other agencies and churches in our community.
Our other big project this summer has been the launch of Fierce Freedom Advocates. We are happy to announce that this is ready to go to a focus group followed by our soft launch this fall. The timing of this seems perfect since we have people from all over the country asking to use our materials to educate their communities. Our reach this month has been from Florida to California. Who would have guessed?
I posted on facebook earlier this month about the rescue that we were able to be part of. In that post I mentioned the importance of every single one of you. Our small staff can’t do this on our own. We need volunteers with specific skills, we need people who will commit to pray for us and we need each of you to speak into your sphere of influence.
I would also ask you to give financially. To accomplish all the opportunities that I spoke of in this article, we will need funding. The beauty of being privately funded is that each of you is invested in what we are doing to make change in our communities. Just last week we had state agencies comment about how remarkable it is that Fierce Freedom has so much public support and funding – we agree! To do all that I listed above, we need you! We have people ask all the time what that looks like. It could be purchasing from our Etsy store, holding a garage sale to raise funds for us, hosting Birthday for a Cause for your next birthday, considering a corporate sponsorship- the sky is the limit. Every single penny is important to us. Please help us be the change to make a real difference in our communities.