By Danielle Morales-Klima
With these words, just over four years ago, our own Chicago-based president declared January the month in which we raise awareness and forward the goals of ending modern slavery. In recognition, we at Traffick Free present to you a calendar of Chicagoland events as well as suggestions for what you personally can do to help fight trafficking.
January 11 marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and there are many opportunities for you to attend an educational event, raise awareness, and recognize those affected by commercial sexual and labor trafficking. The Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force brings legal, social, and law enforcement agencies together to work on human trafficking cases, and Traffick Free is proud to be a member. This month, we have teamed up with Awakenings Foundation Center and Gallery to present “The Art of Healing.” Among other artwork by survivors, the gallery will feature the results of art therapy workshops held in November and December of 2015.
Join us for debut night: Monday, January 11, 2016 at 6 p.m. Awakenings Foundation Center and Gallery, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., 204C, Chicago, IL
On January 14, The Jewish Coalition Against Sex Trafficking (JCAST), Hadassah Chicago-North Shore, and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) will present the short film “Chosen: The True Story of America’s Trafficked Teens,” followed by a Q&A with Hadassah and NCJW advocates Laura Englander and Donna Fishman. There is no charge for the event, but please bring toiletries for donation to trafficked survivors. The most needed items are lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, combs, hair brushes, shampoo, and lip balm. Please RSVP to 847-205-1900 or email email@example.com.
Hadassah Chicago-North Shore, 60 Revere Drive, Suite 800, Northbrook, IL, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) is a network made up of social, governmental and legal organizations, including Traffick Free, and is committed to reducing sex purchasing by 20 percent in the next two years. On January 23, in partnership with JCAST , CEASE will host a free community awareness event. Speakers will include Judge Diedre Monroe of Indiana; Marian Hatcher, human trafficking coordinator at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office; Demetrius Porter, CEASE survivor leader; and Donna Gutman, CEASE network coordinator and member of the JCAST Chicago Steering Committee.
Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., Oak Park, IL, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Did you know that homelessness is a vulnerability factor that can lead to labor or commercial sex exploitation? On January 26, Traffick Free will be among the organizations collaborating with the Department of Family and Support Services for its biannual count of an estimated homeless population in Chicago. The data serves as a basis for federal funding, service and resource planning, and public awareness. Click here to volunteer with us. Under question 12, select “Far West, A Safe Haven, 2750 West Roosevelt Road” as your first choice. Under question 13, enter “Traffick Free.” We thank you for your support!
A Safe Haven, 2750 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL, 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.
On January 31, join JCAST and The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) for “Sex Trafficking: Surprise! It’s in Your Community Too!” The event will feature a panel discussion lead by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The program is free, but please RSVP to 847-205-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Rd., Glencoe, IL, 4 p.m. – 6 pm
Host Your Own Awareness Event
With a human rights abuse as widespread as human trafficking, there is no shortage of ways to help and no reason action should be limited to organized events. You can raise awareness on your own terms and in your own community. Here are a few suggestions:
- Host an awareness party. Have refreshments and invite several friends over to review fact sheets and discuss the issues. If you’re feeling proactive, they can also help you make a poster board or and print out flyers (see below).
- The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) encourages you to promote their hotline number as part of your personal campaign against trafficking. On their website, you can find downloadable flyers in nearly 20 languages as well as downloadable business cards. You can even embed the NHTRC widget on your personal website or blog. Print the flyers and display them in local business as well as business with high foot traffic. Just remember to first consult with the owners for permission.
- Report illegal behavior online. Everyone who has searched for a job on the internet has inevitably found some very sketchy “opportunities.” Don’t hesitate to report ads that sound as though they are veiling prostitution.
- Make a poster board filled with facts about human trafficking and bring it to your local library. Ask them to display recommended books and movies alongside it.
- Sign petitions and keep yourself in the loop on current movements, laws and measures. Join the mailing lists of your favorite organizations, and keep yourself informed of their needs for volunteers, signatures, or phone calls.
January could simply be a month in which you work on your resolutions and count down the weeks until spring; or it could be a month in which you use your time and influence to spread awareness and make a difference in the world around you. Think about what it might mean to individuals rebuilding their lives after they’ve been in forced servitude, or even how you can change the life of a person who continues to live without freedom.
Be it in the art gallery or in the synagogue, I hope to see you at an event. Have a proactive month!