During the week of Jan. 25, Heidelberg University will bring to light the ever-growing issue of human trafficking, one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world and in our own backyards. The series of events that comprise Human Trafficking Awareness Week is designed to raise awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking and ways to prevent it. All of the events are free and open to the community.
The series includes survivors, activists and researchers. The keynote speaker for the series will be Lee Ann Campbell, a survivor of human trafficking, who will share her story, “From the Pits of Hell into HIS Grace,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in Heidelberg’s Wickham Great Hall (Campus Center).
As an adolescent, Campbell became a victim of human trafficking, which led to drug use and a downward spiral. In 2006, Lucas County Children’s Services came into this single mother’s life and removed her six children from her home. She completed the required programming and completed her case plan, including drug treatment and mental health evaluating. She credits her strong faith to changing her life. In 2007, her children were returned to her and she began a life of full-time ministry. Four years later, she began Rehab’s Heart, an outreach program for human trafficking victims. “These are people most of us turn away from,” Campbell says. “They are the people who don’t know how to cry out for help.” Rehab’s Heart is a place for these “broken people” to become whole through the love of Jesus.
The series kicks off on Monday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. with a presentation by Jen Wakefield, publicist and activist for the Pink Cross Foundation. Pink Cross Foundation is a faith-based, humanitarian outreach movement that responds to people who are victims of pornography and sex trafficking. Titled “Commercial Sexual Exploitation and You, the Consumer,” Wakefield’s presentation will be at 6 p.m. in Campus Center 120.
On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Heidelberg will host Stacey Litam and Jesse Bach, who study domestic sex trafficking. Litam, a doctoral student at Kent State University, is a licensed counselor in northeast Ohio. She co-developed the human trafficking docket with the Cleveland Municipal Court. She provides counseling services for survivors of sec trafficking, and also is a researcher, educator and social justice advocate. Bach is the founder and executive director of The Imagine Foundation, a small non-profit in Cleveland dedicated to spreading awareness and promoting solutions for ending child slavery worldwide. His research interests include the systems and institutional agents associated with domestic sex trafficking and the role education holds in rectifying the situation. He has presented nationally and internationally on the topic of domestic exploitation and human trafficking.
Litam and Bach will give a pair of presentations: “An Appetite for Innocence: The Typologies and Recruitment Techniques of Convicted Sex Traffickers” at 2 p.m. in Campus Center 120 and “Labor Trafficking: How a Simple Purchase Initiates a Cycle of Oppression,” at 6 p.m. in Wickham Great Hall.
The series concludes on Thursday with Heidelberg’s weekly series, Matters of Faith, at noon in Rickly Chapel. Special guest will be Sister Mary Kuhlman, director of Sisters in Shelter, a local provider of education and awareness about human trafficking. Sisters in Shelter serves the critical first needs for women survivors of human trafficking, such as emergency safe housing, medical care, safety planning and legal advocacy.
The planning committee for Human Trafficking Awareness Week is comprised faculty members Dr. Kristen Williams (School of Education), Pat McLeod (School of Business), Dr. Stacey Pistorova (School of Education), Dr. Marjorie Shavers (Graduate Counseling), Heidelberg Chaplain Paul Stark, Sister Mary Kuhlman and student members of ‘Berg STOP. Sponsoring organizations include Heidelberg’s Student Senate, the Community Engagement Committee, the Academic Enhancement Committee and the Office of Student Affairs.