A steady stream of energized teens and adult leaders moved through the Women of the ELCA human trafficking exhibit space at the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit.
Those of us staffing the exhibit space unpacked hundreds of hygiene items to be assembled by youth for giveaway to local agencies, some serving homeless LGBTQ youth. Our exhibit displayed how these homeless teens are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking. And yet, the display also showed that there is no socioeconomic thread among trafficked victims.
It was a heavy topic for this lively event—a mature subject for a gathering of church-going youth. But Women of the ELCA is committed to spreading awareness about human trafficking.
We’re doing it again
Women of the ELCA again will be part of the interactive exhibit area at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston in June. Because of a resolution to end human trafficking approved at our Tenth Triennial Convention (2017) last summer, we are again inviting youth to be part of a service project that helps organizations in the area serve victims of trafficking.
In 2015, as the youth gathering was ending, a group of excited teens who had visited our space the day before came back to let us know they were affected by what they learned.
They gave us $55 that they had pooled to put toward the work of ending human trafficking. They said they wanted to spread awareness of human trafficking at their church, school and community. They knew the work would take commitment, and they believed financially supporting the cause would be a tangible gesture.
That was a powerful moment for me. We had started the week wanting to share how our organization cares about ending human trafficking. We ended the week with teens joining our efforts.
You responded by donating to the youth gathering
Before the 2015 Detroit event, we invited Women of the ELCA participants to help us with the cost of purchasing hygiene products for the project. You responded by donating more than $10,000 to the cause.
As a result, we filled 1,500 bags of hygiene items for seven local human trafficking organizations in the Detroit area. Your gifts also helped with the cost of producing the exhibit space and learning materials.
We are inviting you to help us again this summer with our exhibit. Share your tangible expression of faith by donating money that will purchase hygiene items for organizations in Houston that serve victims and survivors of human trafficking.
We have both tangible and non-tangible ways—like prayer—to end human trafficking. If you would like to support our efforts, say a prayer, and donate here. Thank you!
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs and editor of Cafe.
Photo: Valora Starr, right, instructs visitors to the exhibit at the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering about placing a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, lip balm, shampoo, conditioner, tampons, lotion and a towel in every bag. Photo by Jim Veneman