A21’s Walk for Freedom

img_6137 Spreading awareness about human trafficking is the first step towards ending slavery.  If enough people learn about its continual growth and that it still exists, the more likely they will voice it to others and make actions towards ending it.

A21‘s Walk for Freedom had more than 300 walks in 40 different countries on October 15th. A couple representatives from our organization signed up to take part in the walk closest to our location here in New Jersey.

We began by gathering at Hoboken’s Pier A Park.  We were the first ones there other than the A-team that organized the event.  Once everyone seemed to have arrived, we gathered together to listen to a speech about human trafficking with eventual introductions to three survivors of human trafficking (two males, one female – all adults).  They joined us in our walk, which was really touching.

Everyone was dressed in black.  Many put tape over their mouths (including us), some held signs with statistics  or statements about human trafficking, and everyone was handed a flier with information in case people approached them.  It was a silent walk and well over 200 to 300 people were lined up ready to go.  We were somewhat near the front of the line, maybe 30-50 people in.  Bicycle pedaling policeman guided us and helped direct traffic along the way.

Many onlookers gawked at us in an attempt to figure us out.  At one time a middle-aged woman told a person she was walking past us with, “It’s about human trafficking! I knew it was! Yes!”

We noticed a lot of people recording us with their phones or taking pictures while talking and asking people they knew what they thought was going on.  One child asked their father, “Why do they have tape on their mouths?” One woman was clapping and thanking us as we walked by while she held one of the flyers that was passed to her earlier on in the walk.  A few people said, “They’re still going? That’s a lot of people.” Some looked a little shocked and disturbed as they read the signs one after the next out loud.

A group of teenage boys seemed to be confused and didn’t understand what was going on.  I reached out my arm to them as I held the flyer out as far as I could reach without leaving the line.  One of the boys took it and started to read it to his friends.  There were two pre-teen girls who read a sign that said, “Slavery still exists,” while asking each other if it was true.

Overall it seemed to be a successful event filled with newly informed people that will hopefully research and learn more about human trafficking so that they can spread the information out even further.

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Photos from A21’s Joanna Prem, their photographers, & Justice Network

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