“Our conservative estimate is that there are 27 million people in slavery today. This means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history,” according to the Web site of Free the Slaves, a not for profit organization dedicated to eradicating slavery around the world.
Statistics like these are what propelled seniors Katie Coleman, Amanda Sullivan, Megan Hackler, Alyssa Deutschmann, Amy Gulbzinski and Kat Melheim to hold a Global Slavery Awareness Week on campus, which took place Nov. 29 through Dec. 3. The week started as a project for their social work methods class, and blossomed into a weeklong undertaking involving four other campus organizations, including Campus Entertainment Commission, Campus Ministry Commission, International Justice Mission and Social Justice. Since global slavery is something college students have difficulty imagining themselves directly helping with, the group decided to focus on the awareness aspect of it.
“People think slavery was abolished when it ended in the Deep South,” Hackler said. “People think sex trafficking doesn’t happen here. Sex trafficking happens in Fargo. This is an issue that needs to get out there.”
The week included events such as a speaker on the evening of Nov. 29 and the documentary Call + Response on the evening of Dec. 2. The speaker was Wayne Barnard, director of student ministries at International Justice Mission. Additionally, the group hosted chapel on Dec. 1 and 2. Buttons and Christmas ornaments were on sale throughout the week to help raise money to free slaves across the world. Money raised from the button sales will go to the nonprofit organization Free the Slaves, and money raised from the ornament sales will go to International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that works to secure justice for victims of slavery, specifically sexual exploitation.
“A lot of sex slaves come out of India,” Hackler said. “Families will send their daughters to find a job in the city, and their daughters will end up in the sex industry.”
Coleman, Sullivan, Hackler, Deutschmann, Gulbzinski and Melheim coordinated much of their efforts with Concordia’s International Justice Mission. The Concordia chapter of IJM is new this year, and was started by junior Melanie Thompson. For students who want to get involved with global slavery awareness but missed the events during Global Slavery Awareness week, they can contact Thompson or go to the group’s meeting on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m.
“Concordia claims that we are globally engaged, that we care about injustice, that we want to be involved,” Thompson said. “But true compassion will lead to action. Human trafficking is a universal wrong, not a debatable wrong. This allows us to do something about it together.”
Kate Campbell, class of ’13, is the copy editor of The Concordian and is majoring in English education. She is from Sauk Rapids, Minn. At Concordia, Kate is involved in choir and band and works at the Writing Center. After graduation, Kate would like to teach English in a middle or high school.