Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NGO: Traid Ladder of Hope

I recently received an e-mail from a member of an organization called, "Traid Ladder of Hope." She was seeking for support to establish shelters for human trafficking victims in North Carolina. Granted, human trafficking in the United States is nothing new. But I have never imagined North Carolina as a state of high human trafficking rate.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Sandra Johnson ( founder) and Danielle Mitchelle (executive director) of the organization, " Triad Ladder of Hope-- an anti-human trafficking organization located in North Carolina. The two representatives of Triad Ladder of Hope answered a few questions regarding the organization and its anti-human trafficking effort:


YK:
Tell me a little bit about your organization:

Sandra: I worked for a year under a federal grant. Seeing the need for more faith based organizations to get involved in the human trafficking issue, Triad Ladder of Hope Ministry was born. The human trafficking issue is a social issue which should be addressed by our churches.

YK:
What is the current situation of human trafficking in NC?

Danielle: Pretty much the same as the current HT situation everywhere…it's bad. It's hard to know all the numbers and statistics because it is so underground. We work with survivors of Human Trafficking in the Triad and through hearing their stories, we know this issue is much bigger than anyone can comprehend. However, when people ask me for statistics in NC my answer is always the same: What number are you looking for? What number will make you care? What number is enough? Because as far as I am concerned, 1 case of Human Trafficking in NC is TOO MANY!

YK:
Your organization has an interesting name. Does it have any meaning behind it?

Sandra: “Triad” represents the area in which we live and minister. “Ladder” is a visual picture of our motto … “Rebuilding lives One Step at a time”.

Danielle: We didn't want to just raise awareness about the issue of HT. We want to help victims get rescued and become survivors. We want to be the ladder that gives them the steps to have renewed hope in their lives. There are also 4 rungs on our ladder b/c we have 4 “steps” to help us focus on eradicating slavery in our communities and bring hope to victims.

EDUCATION is the key to eradicating modern-day slavery in our communities. Triad Ladder of Hope utilizes volunteers to organize campaigns against slavery and raise awareness in our communities. We offer training and education on why trafficking happens, how it takes place, identifying predators, identifying and interacting with potential victims. We offer training and education to churches, law-enforcement, service providers, schools, and anyone else who will listen.

RESCUE: We work closely with law enforcement and the community to help identify potential victims or trafficking situations and to rescue victims from their situation.

RESTORATION: After rescue, victims have many needs such as shelter, food, clothing, legal help, protection, and counseling. We work to meet those needs and walk the victim through the process. We are currently working toward opening a shelter where trained staff will continue to help victims through the restoration process.

RE-ENTRY: Once a victim has been rescued and worked through the trauma of exploitation they need to re-enter society. We walk with them through the process of employment training, becoming self supporting and independent.

YK
: What are some specific examples of your anti-human trafficking effort?


Sandra:
In raising awareness, we recently found out how much sex trafficking was happening in the local high schools through gang recruitment in NC. So we decided to start raising awareness with students. We gave away free t-shirts to middle and high school students that say “Slavery Still Exists…” and on the back it says “in North Carolina”. With the shirts we hand out cards with sex trafficking and gang involvement facts. We encourage them to wear the shirt and tell their friends what they have learned. Our website is also listed on the shirt for students to find out more information. (You can check out the t-shirts on our website and even buy one. For every shirt you buy, it gives us the ability to give away 2 free shirts to students).

Last July, we also trained over 170 law enforcement officers and service providers on how to recognize victims of Human Trafficking and what to do if they come in contact with someone they think is a victim. We do presentations on HT in undocumented immigrant communities in hopes of getting tips on trafficking situations. Sometimes, we even have victims contact us after hearing one of our presentations.

As a faith-based organization, we recently implemented a program called 1 in 100. It is a program that we ask 100 churches in the triad to join us in the fight against slavery. We believe that slavery is a COMMUNITY problem so the community should step up to fight it. We want 100 churches to say, “No, we will not tolerate slavery in our own backyard!”These are just a couple examples but feel free to check out our website and sign up for our newsletter to hear more.


YK: Does your organization work with other community organizations, service providers, or law enforcement or government?


Sandra:
We are a part of the Health and Human Services Rescue and Restore Campaign; on the NC Human Trafficking Task Force; and Christian Women’s Job Corps organization. We work with all agencies of law-enforcement, World Relief and other non-profit organizations to help victims re-enter society. Danielle: Of course! We all have a part to play and one of the things I love about anti-trafficking efforts in the Triad is that we are working together! See above about our Rapid Response Team. Also, when working with our clients (HT survivors) we work hand in hand with FBI, local law, Legal Aid and many NGOs to ensure that our clients are being taken care of. YK: Do you utilize volunteers and, if so, how do you recruit volunteers and who are they?

Danielle: We depend heavily on volunteers. Every time we do an awareness event we encourage people to come to our weekly volunteer meeting and get involved. We do Awareness events about twice a week. Our volunteers help out in a lot of ways but mostly with awareness events, training and outreach.

YK:
What about your organization’s unique efforts do you think makes it a particularly effective in the means of raising awareness of trafficking?


Sandra:
Triad Ladder of Hope exists for our community. Community means that we help each other. There are people who find themselves in our community, desperate but too afraid or unable to ask for help. It may be the night watchman that notices, or someone living in the next apartment. We all need to be aware in order to eradicate slavery in our community. We offer training to local churches and other organizations to educate each of us who live here. We work closely with the local law enforcement agencies and first responders both with training and victim assistance.

Danielle:
I had to decide a while back that I will not be able to eradicate slavery in the world during my lifetime, probably not even in the USA. However, I do believe that if we all work together then in 5-10 years we CAN start to see slavery eradicated in the Triad. We really focus on people fighting slavery in their own community. After all, how can we fight slavery in other countries if we allow it to happen in our own city?


YK: How do you see your organization evolve in the future?

Sandra: Our dream is to become so successful in the Triad that other parts of the state will get involved in their communities and fight along with us. We want to change lives by creating laws and awareness to allow these victims to become contributing members of our communities.

YK: How can people support your organization and its initiatives?

Danielle:
Volunteer. Sign up for the Victim Partnership Program where 100% of your donation goes directly to a service for a victim. The more partnerships we have, the more victims we can help. Encourage your church to be 1 in 100 if your church is in the Triad of NC.

For more information, visit http://www.triadladderofhope.org.

2 comments:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Margaret

    http://grantfoundation.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your support Margaret!

    We greatly appreciate your note and will continue working towards providing informative, insightful content on human trafficking around the world.

    At the same time if you have any suggestions on how we could make the blog more useful feel free to contact us at any time.

    Justin

    ReplyDelete