"My parents served as house parents for many foster children over the years. One child that we fostered, a young boy, came to us after being prostituted by his mother. I remember thinking that this kind of stuff didn't happen in America, but it does. It's unfortunate and tragic, and sadly, it happens more than we think. People just don't realize that this is a major issue; they don't realize that there are more than 30 million slaves in the world right now."
The Shorter University chapter of Not for Sale, a national non-profit organization that works to wipe out human trafficking, formed two years ago. Since that time, Shorter's Not for Sale chapter has been able to send two student officers to a two-week training in California. Through this training, they were certified to conduct local workshops that focused on the prevention of human trafficking.
Right now, Shorter's Not for Sale chapter is working to raise awareness and financial support to put an end to human trafficking through a new faith-based initiative. This Wednesday, the group of 16 students, along with faculty advisor, Linda Palumbo Olszanski, will kick off the "Fast for Freedom" event by gathering in the front circle for a time of prayer and fasting. The prayer time, which will begin at 3 p.m., is organized to coincide with Ash Wednesday and will continue through the 40-day season of Lent.
Students who are participating in the prayer time are also fasting one meal a day. The money that the students would have used for that meal will be donated to the national non-profit Not For Sale organization. Bright orange buckets will be visible around campus, and students, along with faculty and staff, are encouraged to contribute.
Like Brandon, a personal brush with trafficking is what drives sophomore Dani Fairbairn's involvement with Not for Sale. "I had just read about human trafficking, and then I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. We were playing with children in a park, and the park was right next to a brothel. We spoke to a woman at the park, and she told us how she sold herself to that very brothel in order to support her kids. It was eye opening. What I've learned though, through my involvement with Not for Sale, is that this is not just a problem in Guatemala. It's everywhere. In fact, Atlanta is one of the biggest hubs for human trafficking."
For sophomore Courtney Overton, the desire to get involved in the Not for Sale organization was so strong that it prompted her to change majors. "I was a psychology major, and after reading the heart-breaking stories about human trafficking and slavery and realizing that this is such a huge issue, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to speak out against slavery. I switched my major to communications so I could better prepare myself. I want to be involved, not only here at Shorter, but later on in the future."
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