Q: What is Human Trafficking? Where does it happen?
A: Human trafficking is the practice of forcibly and illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. There are five types of human trafficking: bonded labor, forced labor, child soldiers, involuntary domestic servitude and sex trafficking. In 2016, each of the 50 states had tips to the human trafficking hotline for suspicious behavior. The top three states of reported human trafficking are: 1. California 2. Ohio 3. Florida. Human Trafficking is a global injustice, with major activity focused in Thailand, Russia, China and Venezuela.
Q: What is A21, what does it stand for, what does it do?
A: A21 stands for Abolish Injustice in the 21st Century. It is international non-profit started by Christine Cain. For the past four years, the global Walk for Freedom awareness event has helped educate individual communities all over the world. A21 works to reach victims, restore them and rebuild their faith and value as citizens of their society. It also is involved prosecuting the traffickers and helping victims recover through safe houses. Local A21 chapters, called A-teams, help raise awareness and educate local communities.
Q: What is the goal of the Pensacola chapter of A21? What does it do?
A: The A21 Pensacola A-Team was formed in 2014 and held its first walk in October that year, hosting over 150 walkers. Since then the A-team has doubled in size, collaborating with like-minded individuals who represent more than 30 different businesses, churches and non-profit organizations. Our goal is to stay relevant among the people of Pensacola, teaching and spreading awareness about human trafficking to multiple audiences. We speak at different organizations and conferences year round and we host the annual Walk for Freedom.
Q: What is the Walk for Freedom? What impact do you think the walks in Pensacola have had?
A: The annual Walk For Freedom is a global, silent and single-file demonstration walk with all of the walkers dressed in black. With the help of community members, churches, and local businesses, anti-human trafficking efforts have multiplied, bringing the conversation to schools, doctors offices, and men & women’s groups. The impact has been exciting: from hosting a “Yoga 4 a Cause” event at the Blue Wahoo Stadium & Studer Family Group, to gaining endorsement from Congressman Matt Gaetz, and sponsoring “Not 4 Sale” student groups at Catholic High School and the University of West Florida.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with all of this?
A: The future goal of A21 Pensacola is to collaborate with the Pensacola Dream Center to continue to educate and spread awareness of human trafficking locally and internationally. Future plans include a Safe House through the assistance of the Independence Project out of Atlanta. We need volunteers, civil and professionals, to help facilitate the safe house. We also need people to train to become speakers and help educate smaller organizations of the signs of human trafficking.
Q: Where and how can I learn more?
A: Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/a21pensacola or at the Dream Center website: pensacoladreamcenter.org, where you can fill out a connect card online so we can keep you informed of future events. Our A21 Meetings are held the 1st Thursday of each month once at 8am at DeVilliers Square 2nd Floor Conference Room, 321 N. DeVilliers St., downtown Pensacola. 6pm and again at 6 p.m. at The Rex Theatre, 18 N. Palafox Street, 3rd Floor main room.