Students can partner with these organizations to help free trapped women
Culture | Jillian Schmid
The Red Thread Movement is one way that students can help support getting women out of sex trafficking. | Image courtesy of Red Thread
An estimated 12.3 million people around the world are trapped in forced labor, bonded labor, and forced prostitution. The statistics are overwhelming. But what can YOU do about it? Here are some ideas for getting started.
International Justice Mission
Bethel has an active chapter of IJM, an organization of students concerned about the issues of injustice who work together to advocate for those suffering from oppression worldwide. IJM chapters raise voices, awareness, and support in order to help victims.
Tim Riendeau, a freshman Biblical and Theological Studies major, encourages students to get involved in Bethel’s IJM chapter. “Get on our email list, talk to us, and ask questions. We can get you involved in any way you want to,” he suggested.
IJM holds weekly meetings on campus and sponsors events such as Justice Week to raise awareness of international justice issues. “We show movies such as ‘Taken’ and ‘Sex and Money’ to spread the word about sex trafficking,” notes Riendeau.
GlobeMed has a Bethel chapter for students interested in global health and social justice. Since 2011, Bethel has partnered with GlobeMed as one of 46 chapters nationwide working to improve the health of people living in poverty worldwide. Each university chapter works with a grassroots health organization in a developing country. Bethel’s chapter is linked to the Rural Economic Development Association in Svay Rieng, Cambodia.
Along with REDA, GlobeMed strives to provide programs aimed at improving livelihood, including agricultural skills, health system strengthening and vocation training for young adults—all in hopes of supporting households in becoming self-sufficient and staying together. Contact chapter leader Andre Scarlato for more information or go to razoo.com to contribute to the latest mission of the GlobeMed chapter: providing toilets and water pumps to impoverished families in Cambodia.
The mission of the Red Thread movement is to create awareness of global rights crimes involving human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual slavery while also generating financial support to end trafficking. Red Thread sells bracelets made by young women in Nepal who would otherwise be at risk of being trafficked. For every bracelet bought, $1 supports the young girl who made it, while the remainder goes towards anti-trafficking work. The bracelets also work as a symbol of awareness of sex trafficking.
Kingdom Investments Nepal is the Nepalese non-profit organization linked with Red Thread which operates safe houses for victims of sex trafficking where they can seek refuge, counseling, and vocational training. This NGO has also established border units between India and Nepal that rescue as many of the 12,000 human trafficking victims annually.
Red Thread has been a success at Bethel thanks to the hard work of junior Laura Hastings, who researched the movement and along with a few friends decided to bring it to Bethel. They sold bracelets at tables in the BC and found that their efforts were successful. “It was amazing to see how supportive the Bethel community was,” says Hastings. “I am encouraged every time I see a student wearing a bracelet that has changed the lives of others.”
Students can buy bracelets, stickers, or T-shirts on the Red Thread movement’s website. Hastings, however, challenges students to take the movement some place--whether that is a youth group, a school, or on a family vacation. “No difference that can be made is too small,” she explains.
Hastings cites the Red Thread bumper sticker as a motivation for spreading the Red Thread message. It reads: “I bought this, so they wouldn’t buy her.”
“That message resonated in my heart and I knew that I was responsible for the things that I had seen,” she explained. “This injustice should be stopped and with organizations like this, everyone can do a part.”
We all saw them around campus: students wearing the same shirt day in and out. Whether you knew the cause, or simply thought they lacked a sense of fashion, throughout the month of April, many Bethel students took part in the ministry of Project Rescue. A branch of the ministry Illuminate, Project Rescue is a specific mission to liberate people caught in human trafficking. The targets are victims in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
Bethel’s involvement with Project Rescue is the mission called “Speed the Light,” a month-long challenge to wear the same SLT t-shirt every day in hopes of increasing awareness of the problem on college and high school campuses.
For three years now, students have been participating in this campaign. Bethel sophomore Briza Bohne, one of the students involved with STL, reflected on the impact of the month-long challenge. “It wasn’t as hard for me because I’m not obsessed with fashion,” she said. “But for those who are, it can be a real sacrifice.”
A non-profit organization located in St. Paul, Breaking Free educates and provides services to women and girls who have been victims of abuse and sexual exploitation. Students who are interested in volunteering can find an application on the group’s website. Donations of any amount can also be submitted through the website.
Source Ministries, directed by Bethel alum Peter Wohler, works with marginalized Twin Cities youth who are at-risk and homeless. Source offers victims a chance to break from pasts of abuse, prostitution, and drugs by placing them in a transitional home where they grow and gain lifelong relationships with fellow victims and live-in role models.
Students interested in volunteering with Source can attend the Wednesday night dinner and Bible study, help with the group’s traveling art exhibit and art seminars, or apply for a live-in position at the Annex, one of the organization’s transitional homes.
College is a stressful, busy time of life. So it’s understandable that some students may not have the time to commit to these organizations. Luckily, there are easier ways to get involved.
One option is to sponsor a girl or woman through organizations such as Plan International, Women for Women International, or World Vision. These groups provide women with the tools and resources to stabilize their lives and become self-sufficient. Although monthly sponsorship fees tend to be around $30, it is a life-changing commitment that will move a woman in need from victim to active citizen.
One of World Vision’s programs is goat sponsorship program to provide families in developing countries with a goat.
Goats provide nourishment to hungry children and families by producing healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. They also provide families monetary gain by selling offspring and extra dairy products of the goats.
This spring, Bethel was involved with goat sponsorship by creating a fundraiser in the Kresge Courtyard. Students were drawn to the event by a pen containing a goat and her several young “kids” that were constantly in the arms of students.Students were encouraged to donate whatever they could towards the program, with BSA offering to match up to $300 toward the purchase of goats through World Vision.
New York Times’ journalist Nicholas Kristof encourages people to do whatever they could to help those suffering worldwide. “Don’t worry that your efforts won’t solve the global problems of oppression,” he states, “for they will make a difference in real people’s lives.”