Thank you some much to everyone who came out to our event on Saturday! We were overwhelmed by the amount of community support and immensely proud to be a part of a community that seeks knowledge and information in the face of a problem that many would prefer to ignore. For those of you that were unable to attend, both The Livingston Parish News and The Livingston Business Journal had journalists in attendance and will have articles detailing the panel in future publications should you be interested in learning more.
There were so many important messages to take away from the very informative panel members, but the questions I received after the event were these: How do we help? and How do we learn more?
To that end I want to share with everyone a few of the resources that were mentioned as well as a few of the areas of need should you want to do more to help victims of human trafficking.
Trafficking Hope and Hope House were the two non-profit organizations featured on our panel by Emily Morrow-Chenevert and George Mills. To learn more about each of these organizations follow the links to their websites. I know that many of you asked what specific needs these organizations have and of course, as always, the big issue is funding! There is never enough grant money to go around and private donations help to keep these great organizations operational. If you would like to donate to Trafficking Hope Louisiana and Hope House please go HERE. One thing Mr. Mills also mentioned was access to events – the women staying in Hope House are escaping very bleak situations in which they have not had any healthy contact with the wider world. If you have access to cultural events that you would like to share please contact Mr. Mills through the Trafficking Hope website. An audience member also mentioned that HPServe, the community service arm of Healing Place Church, does a lot of work with victims of human trafficking. For more information on HPServe and their Midnight Outreach go HERE.
One of the important facts stressed during the discussion was the importance of fully investing in your children’s lives. To that end a few apps were mentioned that aim to keep parents aware of what is happening in the lives of their children. The MamaBear and TeenSafe apps where specifically mentioned; these apps track social media and text messaging. Click the links to learn more about each of them. Mrs. Juneau also mentioned the See Something Send Something app (My Mobile Witness) which exists to connect concerned citizens to law enforcement officers. Sheriff Ard insisted on the importance of reporting suspicious activity. Mrs. Juneau affirmed this by saying that they look in to every report and that citizen reports have indeed led to arrests.
One of the most important aspects of the discussion (and a relevant theme in Julie’s novel, The Feathered Bone) was that of vulnerability. One panelist stated that “trafficking stems from vulnerability.” From the physical standpoint we counter this vulnerability with awareness; that is one way to protect our families and community. But the greater problem is our emotional vulnerability. Mrs. Chenevert spoke of the importance of valuing each other as one thing we can all do to help end human trafficking. Julie’s novel takes that to its furthest point and expresses what a strong foundation in love can grant an individual. Loving, valuing, and respecting not just our own children but our fellow neighbors and our fellow human beings is the greatest way to fight the darkness that is human trafficking.
Thank you again to each of you for giving your time to the start of this conversation. Let’s keep it going!
In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter's sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter's best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry---gone, without a trace.