By Nicholas Barden, with reporting by Sarah Chaffee and Gracy Howard; orginally published in PHC Herald 10//29/10. Pics by Gracy Howard.
Patrick Henry College
Natasha Malik and Alan Carillo lead a group of PHC students to "Stop Modern Slavery."
Eight Patrick Henry College students attended the walk, and PHC’s International Justice Mission Club exceeded its goal by raising $245.
The event included a 5k walk as well as speeches from survivors of trafficking and individuals combatting slavery.
“It really inspired me to see families at the walk,” said Natasha Malik, president of the PHC International Justice Mission club. “Fathers and mothers stood side-by-side with their children to fight injustice. Seeing middle schoolers and even younger children passionate about being involved in the fight against slavery gave me so much hope.”
The 5K walk circled the Lincoln Memorial before returning to the rally site at the Constitution Gardens. Participants heard speeches by survivors of human trafficking and members of organizations dedicated to fighting human trafficking in the United States and abroad.
The motto of the event was “We can do together what no one of us can do alone.” About 27 million people are currently in slavery worldwide. According to volunteer Ashley Marchand, the size of the walk has almost tripled since last year. The event raised twice the amount of money this year.
The walk attracted people from all parts of the political spectrum. High school student Tareatha Epps, a self-described liberal, attended the walk with a friend. She believes that liberals and conservatives can be allies on this issue. “It depends on where your heart is,” she said.
“Every day in the United States, 250 children wake up free and go to bed slaves,” said Melissa Snow, deputy director for Shared Hope International. Snow asked each person to tell five friends about the slavery issue over the weekend.
“North Korean women have two options - stay in North Korea and die of starvation or flee North Korea and face inevitable trafficking,” said Steve Kim, founder of 318 Partners of North Korea. Kim named the organization according to a Bible passage in Genesis where Abraham sent 318 warriors to rescue his nephew Lot from slavery. Kim has been imprisoned multiple times in China for helping North Korean refugees flee China to South Korea.
A group wears their "One Day, One Place, One Voice for the Voiceless" shirts as they walk.
“It’s almost an in-trend to support something,” Malik added. She notes that awareness of slavery has increased in recent years especially in social media circles.
Carrillo has been involved in the anti-trafficking movement since high school, and plans to intern with International Justice Mission’s Investigations Department next semester. International Justice Mission works in the United States and overseas to monitor and rescue slaves from human trafficking, as well as to raise awareness concerning human trafficking.
The event also featured music from various artists, including Lamont Hiebert from the band Ten Shekel Shirt, who performed the band’s single “It’s Not Your Fault,” a song dedicated to survivors of the human trafficking movement who deal with issues of selfblame. “[Modern slavery] is an incredibly dark subject, but we get to see some of the greatest stories of restoration,” Hiebert said.
“I like the fact that he’s somebody who can make money doing what he does, but at the same time, he’s willing to use his talents in a way that doesn’t really benefit him,” PHC student Geoffrey Seroka said.
The event featured organizations and participants from a variety of religious and political persuasions. “I thought it was neat to be in the company of people of all different backgrounds and faiths all marching for the same cause,” Carrillo said.
Seroka had the opportunity to talk with several middle-aged women during the walk.
“We got to talking about how it was great that there was something where people from all different political views can be involved in fighting something like that,” Seroka said. “They were very politically liberal but we were able to come together as conservatives, liberals, Christians and atheists because we all recognize that it is a problem.”
PHC students interested in helping the anti-human trafficking movement can speak with Carrillo or Malik concerning the campus IJM club, or to subscribe to the club’s mailing list.
“If they don’t have time to stop by a club meeting, they can offer up a prayer for the victims of injustice or look towards donating a few dollars to buy a ‘Seek Justice’ bracelet being sold by the club,” Malik said. “Any donation is extremely helpful.”