Sometimes people feel so removed from an issue that they can’t imagine that it’s happening all around them in their own communities. For many people in the U.S., trafficking is one of these issues. Despite their best intentions, most citizens likely overlook the signs and indicators of trafficking because they haven’t been brought to their attention.
But you can change this. The fact that you’re participating in this group indicates you want to help raise awareness about human trafficking. The goal is both to decrease the demand for goods and services provided by exploited men, women, and children and to decrease the supply of people who are at risk for being trafficked.
So now that your group is halfway through these sessions, it’s time to apply what you’re learning and share it in your communities. This session asks you and your group to conduct an Awareness Outreach or Serve Day, if you will, to help others in your communities recognize and understand the enormous problem of human trafficking. Awareness is a key component of preventing and abolishing human trafficking. Your group’s efforts can lay the groundwork for establishing relationships within your community at large and educating others about the epidemic of trafficking affecting us all.
Plan to dress in a similar, basic style (for example, blue jeans and red t-shirts), or better yet, have everyone wear the same “Hope” or “Serve” t-shirt supporting your church, Trafficking Hope, or another anti-trafficking organization. You want others to know you’re part of a group from your church working together and not just an individual alone on their own.
After meeting in a public venue you’ve selected ahead of time—a busy park, shopping area, parking lot, or other locale—your group will distribute information sheets, flyers with trafficking warning signs, a list of names and numbers of local resources, and/or other materials to members of the public as they pass by. If you choose a business location or private property, be sure you have permission from owners. Try to select a place where people might have time and be willing to take your information and talk with you if they want.
How you conduct the actual Outreach is up to you and your group. You might have an information table set up in a park and manned by a couple of you while other pairs venture throughout the park to distribute flyers to people they encounter. If your group is fairly large, you might even want to consider working in teams and tackling several different locations. You might want to pass out Awareness bracelets (see the TraffickingHope.org website for info on #itsnotOkay bracelets, HOPE t-shirts), stickers, bookmarks, flyers, or some other useful item people would want to take.
The key is to engage your community through a wide variety of interest points that all raise awareness about human trafficking. Such points of engagement start the dialogue and as more and more people become aware of human trafficking, more and more people will be identified and rescued.
Finally, don’t feel bound by the suggested instructions listed here—use your imagination and make your group’s Trafficking Awareness Outreach your very own!
Successful grassroots activism requires a paradigm shift. The people in your sphere of influence may or may not be passionate about social issues, especially ones they may be tacitly perpetrating or unknowingly involved in. For example, consumers of pornographic material are supporting an industry that is harming and exploiting women and sometimes children. It will take all our efforts to see an end to slavery and the next step of raising awareness is to live out your activism in every day life.
Meet for ten or fifteen minutes before you begin your Awareness Outreach and share your fears or apprehensions about interacting with the public. Remind each other why you’re doing this—to help others know about the atrocities of trafficking and to put a stop to it once and for all. Then pray together, asking God’s blessing on your efforts, and get going!
As you interact with people about trafficking awareness, designate one member to video the rest of the group in action. After asking their permission, film the response of members of the public with whom the group interacts. Make it clear that this video will not identify them or be used in any way outside of your group’s viewing. Hold onto this video so you can watch it together in your final meeting in Session 8.
After your group has spent at least an hour, two if possible, spreading awareness about trafficking, reconvene in a coffee shop, restaurant, or your usual meeting place. Take a few minutes to share your experiences and impressions. Make observations about what you saw and heard as people responded to your message. Then use the questions below to process your Outreach and what you can learn from it.
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only…” (James 1:22, KJV).
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17, NIV).
Generally speaking, how did the majority of people your group approached respond? Polite nods? Uncomfortable smiles? Dismissive glances? Attentive eyes? How would you describe their overall reaction to your group’s message?
What was the biggest surprise about your group’s experience during the Awareness Outreach? Did it go as you expected? Why or why not?
Was there one person or individual encounter that moved you, angered you, or provoked some other strong reaction? How did you handle your feelings in the moment? Why do you suppose you felt this way?
What could your group have done differently to improve the effectiveness of an Awareness Outreach? Different flyers or materials to hand out? More materials? More practice in what to say? Other ideas for improvement?
WHO C.A.R.E.S.—YOU DO!
Successful anti-trafficking events require all five areas of C.A.R.E.S.—Coalition, Awareness, Rescue, Education, and Service—to work together in synchronicity. How did you see each of these five represented in the Outreach your group conducted this session? Why are all five equally important in the war on trafficking? How do they overlap and build upon one another?
Close your group’s time together by thanking God for the people and conversations you were able to experience during the Outreach. Ask Him to continue to work in their hearts and minds so that they, too, would become more aware of trafficking, its warning signs, and how to stop it in their communities as well as in our world. Thank Him for His presence and power in your encounters and for making you more aware of the needs of those enslaved by trafficking. Conclude by asking Him to continue to open your eyes so that you can become a catalyst for changing those around you.