15 November, 2011

It Starts with Education

Here at LTHF we start with three basic ideas: awareness, education and advocacy.

It has to work in that order. To find out about something and become a voice for it, with no real idea of what is happening, the core problems or what is already being done, is detrimental. Too often new initiatives get started because a) someone did not want to work under someone else's plan; or b) they did not take the time to find out what was already being done.

You have to tell someone about what is going on:

There are domestic victims of human trafficking (a lot of them!)
Before someone goes to purchase a child overseas they are abusing a child at home. 

Then you educate, you talk about stats, how it happens, responses, prevention, who the authorities on the subject are. Give people resources. Pull them into a dialogue about the topic. This can be done (rudimentary) in one meeting. But it should be a discussion over time. Don't just parrot a stance to someone, help them make it theirs and let them figure out how to spread the word.

In Denver, there are an average of 225 arrests a year of minors being prostituted
The average age is 12 - 14
A third of all runaways are pulled into prostitution within the first 48 hours
How we can classify 17-year-olds being prostituted as victims and 18-year-olds being prostituted a criminals is unreasonable and unfair. If she has been abused since she was 12 - how can she go from being a victim to a criminal in one day?

Then you tell them how they can respond. How they can get connected. Most people are not called to move overseas and start their own NGO. Some are, but there is a lot of preparation and humility that goes with that. There are resources helping victims in your area you can get connected to.

Give shoes or other supplies
Donate time or money
Speak out for better legislation

This is what you can do to help a victim of violence. It is so small - a pair of shoes, and yet it can have a profound effect. It's a pair of shoes - and it can be given without a second thought. But to know - to be made aware of the problem, educated to what is happening and given ways to assist - to be fully aware of what this seemingly small donation can do - makes the giving of shoes that much sweeter and better for all involved.

All of these shoes will grace the feet of survivors of violence and help them start their path of (hopefully) healthy healing. All were donated by people in the community!