I joined the Angels of Mercy committee, to plan their annual run/walk to fight human trafficking, this year. After some of the meetings, I had been thinking of how to help spread the word for their event and to help raise funds for their cause. So I had the idea to host a cocktail party. Since getting the ball rolling, I have been met with the greatest support from the Rochester community. The excellent staff and owners of Good Luck Restaurant opened up their place for me to host the event. Numerous businesses donated gifts for a silent auction. Organizations allowed me to post the event on their sites, and spread the word to their members.
Despite all this, I have only been able to sell 9 tickets to the fundraiser, and am in danger of having to cancel or postpone the event. In hindsight, I set the ticket price too high, but I was covering costs of the event itself. Still, I should have made a choice between exposure vs fundraising. I should have gone for exposure. The reason I am putting this out there, is because if I can’t sell the tickets, I can’t raise the money. I can still shoot for exposure. One of the questions asked in a request for a business donation, such as for the silent auction, is to explain the cause. It is a question I have been asked a lot in recent months. What is the cause you are supporting? Why are you supporting this cause? Why should others care?
Human trafficking is not something that is easy to talk about. The most common sense I get from people is the thought that human trafficking is really sex trafficking and boils down to under-age prostitution. It’s a touchy subject that is hard to get people to discuss. The catch-22 is that human trafficking thrives on people not paying attention. Since I have this very small microphone and really want to get the word out, I thought I would take a moment to share what I have learned about human trafficking.
Human trafficking can often take the shape of forced labor. Selling a human being and forcing them into any kind of slave labor, is human trafficking. It is the slavery of today. It is illegal, but incredibly difficult to prevent. Forced labor practices have been reported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to generate profits of $150 billion a year (http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_243201/lang–en/index.htm). The ILO also estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children. 55% are women and girls (https://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview).
But how is this relatable to people in the Rochester, NY community? These facts are staggering, but they aren’t exactly tangible to the immediate concerns of our area. In February of this year, it was announced that 7 men and women in the Rochester area were in custody, after a human trafficking bust in our city. 9 victims were rescued, 7 of whom were minors (http://www.twcnews.com/nys/buffalo/news/2015/02/18/rochester-human-trafficking-ring.html). These are someone’s daughters, sisters, cousins. They were missing, taken and forced into a nightmare. Many have heard the stories. A teenager gets an offer for a modeling shoot, or audition, and is flown to a big city. When they get there, they are forced into a van and never seen again, except by those buying and selling them. Other stories take place in developing countries. They shape of parents selling their child, because they are in debt and have no other options. The problem is that the debt is never settled and the child is forced into servitude with no end in sight.
Angels of Mercy is hosting their 3rd annual run/walk to fight trafficking on August 29th, 2015 (https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Rochester/StoptheTraffickingEndtheCycleRunWalk) . You can register as an individual or with a team. Their goal is to fund a home for healing in the Rochester area. We do have trafficking here, and as we find the ones being held against their will, we need to have a place for them to heal. We need to provide crisis services for survivors and those seeking help. Angels of Mercy is working toward that goal, and I am with them in the fight. For more information on trafficking, and how educating girls is a direct combatant to this epidemic, I recommend the documentary Girl Rising (http://girlrising.com/).
Since I have a small window left to get ticket sales up (ie now is the time), I will still encourage everyone to reserve a ticket (or more) for the cocktail party I am hosting at Good Luck Restaurant, next Monday August 10th, 2015. Proceeds go directly to Angels of Mercy Run/Walk to fund a home for healing and crisis services for survivors and those in need. We will have information about trafficking available, a silent auction, and some clips from the Girl Rising documentary. Attendees can also register for the run/walk and find out more about how to get involved in this cause. http://www.GoodRunCocktail.EventBrite.com