A reporter friend — thanks to him being on the east coast — was the first to tip me off to the fact that today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. He created a graphical image for Facebook users to share. It depicted saints who were also slaves. What made me stare at it for a bit (it was really the third eye popping moment I had this week) was that three out of the four saints depicted have parishes in our diocese named after them:
- St. Brigid — also spelled St. Bridget, which is how the Mesa parish at Lindsay Road north of McKellips Street in Mesa spells it.
- St. Vincent de Paul — Phoenix has among the world largest Society of St. Vincent de Paul outreach plus a parish and school named after him in Phoenix’s Maryvale neighborhood on 51st Avenue north of Thomas Road.
- St. Patrick — a large and vibrant parish west of Loop 101 in Scottsdale and north of Shea Blvd.
Didn’t know I was so close to the names of real victims of human trafficking. Nor did I realize how widespread it still is today. His image said 12.3 million victims of slavery and human trafficking remain today. So as you can imagine, all other Facebook posts and emails (even if they were old emails) relating to that matter caught my eye today.
- Catholic Relief Services has a six-item “From slaves to homeowners” photo gallery and brief story of their struggles in Brazil.
- A mass email from the Global Centurion Foundation, which is focused on ridding slavery, announced its latest round of Norma Hotaling Anti-Trafficking Awards. The awards’ namesake was trafficked into prostitution as a child and remained trapped there for 18 years. The awards went to:
Courtney’s House, a survivor-centered service provider with a focus on preventing sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes. It has helped over 500 victoms escape from being trafficked since 2008.
Truckers against Trafficking, an Innovative Demand Reduction Award recipient. The nonprofit combats domestic sex trafficking by trafficking by empowering members of the trucking and travel plaza industry.
Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, the award recipient for policy development. The Hawaii-based nonprofit focuses efforts in the Aloha State and the Pacific and has advocated for newly passed laws prohibiting prostitution and labor trafficking.
- There’s the trailer for “Chosen,” a documentary due out sometime this year about the true story of two ‘All-American’ teenage girls tricked into trafficking
- And I often keep in mind DIGNITY, an outreach of Phoenix’s Catholic Charities Community Services which helps women turn from a life of prostitution to a life of self-worth. All of January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, according to its Facebook feed.
- A search of Catholic News Service‘s database always yields good results too. The Vatican held a trafficking conference last May, a Catholic fashion designer in Iowa uses her profits to help women rescued from sex trafficking in Nepal and in advance of the Olympic games last summer, a coalition of U.S. and U.K. investors came together to strengthen their focus against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Last year’s Super Bowl also had an Anti-Trafficking Initiative.