This past Saturday, it was a great pleasure for Justice Network to be able to attend the Human Trafficking Summit through CAN and NJ Coalition Against HT. Vital members of our team attended the various sessions that were offered, each attending different ones to learn about how we can better end human trafficking in our lifetime.
While we wanted to attend all the sessions, we could each only choose two, as they were held at the same times to rotate into. This post is a conglomeration of what was stated or learned at the event. Not all of the sessions available were attended by us, and we apologize for that. I hope you will enjoy our overviews so it can inspire you to research and want to learn more on your own or attend an event like this in the future!
JN Team Member #1
Abolition in the Travel Industry
“Presenters: Kate Irwin, Administrator with NJ Coalition Against HT; Rev. Dwayne Leverett, Shared Hope Defender; Laura Soria, Flight Attendant with Airline Ambassadors
‘This breakout session highlighted the many ways in which the hotel, trucking and airline industries cross paths with HT. Attendees learned about the S.O.A.P. initiative, which trains hotel/motel staff to spot trafficked victims, save missing kids and prevent sex trafficking through increased awareness; Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), which empowers truckers to identify and report trafficking activities at truck stops and other locations across the country; and Airline Ambassadors, training designed to help flight attendants recognize trafficking situations (often involving unaccompanied minors) in airports or aboard airplanes and inform other travelers about how they can save trafficking victims. Participants learned about signs of HT in these industries and how to report if they suspect a trafficking situation. Someone who wishes to report suspicious activity may do any of the following: 1) contact the national HT hotline: call 888-373-7888 or text BE FREE (233733); 2) call the NJ HT hotline: 855-END-NJHT (855-363-6548); or 3) call local police or 911. Tips to the national and NJ hotlines may be left anonymously. The national and NJ hotlines share all tips with local law enforcement agencies — all reports are acted upon; however, information given to local police may receive faster attention. ”
JN Team Member #2
Community Mobilization & Abolition Advocates:
“We learned about how to be involved more and how to raise awareness in our community. One question can be the result of something big. You can be the bridge to something much bigger! What you do matters!”
Prevention/Detection in schools:
“There are many different signs to see if a student is being trafficked. Some signs include if they are always depressed, or tired. Also watch out for fake families who try to lure your children in for sleepovers and such. They use their children to befriend someone and then trap them. If a child has been main stream all their life and then all of a sudden they are in special ed classes and are diagnosed with a learning disability, that could be a sign as well.
JN Team Member #3
“8:37-8:45 am: I enjoyed watching Parsippany Mayor James Barberio receive the NJCAHT HT Honors Award. It was wonderful to see someone so close to my hometown fighting to end this injustice.
“At the 8:45 session, conducted by Sonia Lane from Sanar, I was able to learn more about all the statistics regarding human trafficking: how it is a crime, where it takes place, what are the risk factors for it, and more. It helped to remind me more about the dangers of human trafficking, even though I thought I knew everything about it. Also, the poetic video by Kate Keisel of Sanar was amazing. With her poetry displayed on various body parts, her raw emotions of being a vulnerable child, who is abused by family, and who then becomes a sex slave, was expressed, all while searching for what she thought was love.
“9:55 – 10:25 am: During Breakout session 1, I went to the “Community Abolition and Abolition Advocates.” Mandy from CAN, someone from NJCAHT (not in the pamphlet), Mark Avery, and Adrian Pina, lead the panel and I learned about what I can do, practically speaking, to increase awareness for HT and create abolitionists. I learned that it is important to talk to this issue with the top 2% of people involved with changing laws and creating change. I also learned that gift cards are the best donation you can make to the FBI who handle HT victims, since the victims will have more freedom with what they purchase with the card.
“10:35 – 11:05 am: During breakout session 2, I went to the “Abolition in the Marketplace” session, which was led by Justice Network’s Susan Panzica, Diana Welch, Kelly Lyndgaard, and the owner of the Eurasia cafe of Calvary Temple. I learned about how by shopping fair trade items, I can empower those that make the items, so they can get a fair wage. I also learned about the Eurasia café and how each coffee item goes towards a different cause. In addition to learning about each panel speaker’s individual organizations, it was empowering to learn how I could change people’s lives just by how I shopped.
“11:15: The survivors speaking out was extremely moving. Danielle Douglas’ story demonstrated how anyone at any time can become a victim, especially those who are young and insecure. The other HT victim’s story (name not in the pamphlet), was also extremely moving. Both victim’s survivals are nothing short of a miracle.
“12:00 pm – For the Call to Action segment, Susan Panzica explained that by just using Facebook and Twitter, we could raise awareness during the Super Bowl.
“Overall, the event was great for anyone with an interest in learning more about HT or with a desire to increase awareness for it. It was moving and made me feel good to be with a group of people who all cared for the same cause.”
JN Team Member #4
“I jotted a few things down that Mark Avery mentioned about mobilizing others and spreading the impact across communities.
“This problem is too complex and embedded within our communities for any one organization to tackle. We have to work together.”
“Rather than finding people to get involved, we can ask ourselves ‘What communities already exist that can be activated to participate? PTA, rotary clubs, church groups, etc.'”
“Every group that’s out there already, needs someone in it who is a voice for this issue.”
JN Team Member #5
“While I was mainly at our vendor’s table in case people had questions about Justice Network, I was able to pop in and out of many of the sessions. I found myself talking more one on one with vendors/organizations and individuals who attended the event than I had been in on the sessions, which really is a beautiful and enjoyable way to connect with others who long to find an end to human trafficking. Doing so is my favorite part of every event we attend or host.
“At one point, I believe at the Student HT Prevention and Detection in Schools session, Rebekah Contarino of Love True‘s organization and Patty Mojta of NJ Prevent Child Abuse spoke. I loved that when a question had been asked about male exploitation, they answered that there is not enough information out yet about the exploited boys, but how they believed it was definitely an important issue that we need to learn more about and that many boys are incredibly abused in both labor and sex trafficking. The audience seemed highly engaged and filled with raised hands to ask questions.
“It is always a pleasure to listen to Susan Panzica (our director/co-founder) speak. She introduced the Abolition in the Marketplace session in a warm setting at the Eurasia Cafe. She spoke about how our purchases can make an impact on ending slavery today in demanding that companies run their businesses ethically and fairly. It was exciting to hear how the Eurasia Cafe was started and how every purchase is helping those who are in need from the hungry or poverty stricken to the slave. Diana Welch introduced us to the start of her company Simply Fair and how she felt led to a living-wage business to help women out of poverty through women empowerment. She is helping sell handmade jewelry by women she interacts with from Botswana, India, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. This led very well into the introduction of Kelly Lyndgaard of Unshattered who helps former victims of trafficking and drug addiction find purpose in re-purposing handbags. She talked about how one of the women she worked with (who was there) began to unfold her own story while working with these women and how healing and restoration was possible for the brokenhearted.
“At the Student Abolition Movements session, Danny Papa of Project Stay Gold had introduced himself as a teacher in a New Jersey school who began to challenge and teach his students about human trafficking. He wanted to equip young people with resources of being student leaders that make a difference as abolitionists. Christian Boujaoude gave a wonderful presentation on how he had found out about human trafficking and all the involvements he has been a part of in seeking an end to slavery today. He spoke about Theresa Flores’ S.O.A.P. initiative leading up to a couple Super Bowls ago which helped inspire him to create his own organization called R U Aware. If a young man can do all of this, you know there is great hope for our future in fighting slavery! Afterwards one of Mr. Papa’s students spoke named Ina Joseph. She stated that Mr. Papa had his 8th grade students go into 7th grade classes to teach about modern-day slavery, and how she was one of those 7th graders who learned that slavery happens today. Now she is in high school and speaks up for those who are oppressed. She was a great speaker and I can see the impact she will continue to have on the youth today and of the future.”