Everyday the news tells of tragedy and heartbreak across the planet. Many times college students feel relatively helpless when crisis occurs. However, an organization at Auburn University encourages students to aid in relief attempts in their own backyard.
Sex trafficking has grown into a leading form of human exploitation. The International Justice Mission (IJM) works hard to raise awareness and funds to bring freedom back to men, women, and children who had it taken away.
Grace Ann Hollis began the chapter at Auburn University in 2010. Hollis was a freshman at the time and was eager to begin spreading the word about IJM.
IJM is a non-profit, faith-based organization that raises awareness, funds, and support for rescuing, treating, and healing people who had been violently exploited through sex trafficking and slavery. According to the IJM website, sex trafficking specifically markets a total estimated to be $32 billion and is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world.
It is also the fastest growing.
"I wanted people to understand how close to home this exploitation actually is," Hollis said.
The Auburn chapter of IJM seeks to inform their fellow students of the problem and how they can help. Specifically, the chapter supports NightLight in Atlanta, Ga. "NightLight Atlanta is a faith-based, grassroots movement that reaches out to commercially sexually exploited individuals (domestic and foreign) through prevention, intervention, restoration, and education" (nightlightinternational.com).
"Over 7,000 men purchase sex from minor girls every month in the Metro Atlanta area," Hollis said. "If we can do something to help, then by all means, we must."
IJM at Auburn does several things to help the movement against human trafficking. First is the "Loose Change to Loosen Chains" campaign which collects loose change to help free enslaved people in 13 countries. "This campaign is an easy way for people to get involved and make a difference," said Hollis.
In addition, Auburn IJM will be hosting the first "Freedom Fest" in the beginning of April, which Hollis hopes will raise enough money to free two victims of trafficking. The festival will include local music and vendors, as well as a walk of prayer.
For more information about the "Freedom Fest", check out the Auburn IJM Facebook page.
"We are eager to spread the word that students can help in this movement," Hollis commented. " It is very exciting to see the change that has already taken place."