Many people are afraid to acknowledge that human trafficking is real and exists. Many people are not aware that human trafficking is happening right in our neighborhoods, even in Grand Rapids. Many people do not know that January is Human Trafficking Prevention month.
However, some people do and they are fighting to make a change. Grace students Adara Lebron, Kate Shellenbarger, Taylor Wahl, Alex LaMotte, Allison Eding, Emilee Prins, and Mal Walker have decided to wear one dress every day for the month of January to spark conversation about human trafficking. Not only are they hoping this will bring awareness, but that it will also bring more knowledge. Senior Taylor Wahl says, “Knowledge will be the change. We are doing this so we can answer the hard questions.”
These women are also trying to raise money for Sacred Beginnings, a Grand Rapids based nonprofit organization. Sacred Beginnings, founded and led by Leslie King, provides a safe haven for trafficked women.
Leslie King can relate to every victim because she is a survivor. She was forced into sex trafficking at the age of 15 and spent the next 20 years in captivity. She broke free in 2000 and since then has been an advocate for change in the human trafficking world. According to the Sacred Beginnings website, it is the first survivor-led outreach and recovery program in the State of Michigan for women who have been sexually exploited/trafficked.
The Grace women would like to raise $1,000 this month. This is an opportunity to make a change in the lives of many women and also to support local businesses trying to make Grand Rapids a better place. Senior Allison Eding states, “Wearing this dress reminds me every day of the women, men, and children who aren’t free and do not have a voice and how important it is for me to utilize my freedom and my voice in order to advocate for them!”
Below are links to their GoFundMe page, Leslie King’s story, and the Sacred Beginnings website. If you are interested in learning more and donating, take a look!
Written by Robin Gould