In 2007, the United States Senate declared January 11 National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In recognition of the day, the Sacramento Rescue and Restore Coalition and Sacramento Metropolitan Lions Club will be presenting “Food for Thought”, a free event designed to raise consciousness about this national issue taking place in our region.
Hosted at the Pocket area’s Riverside Wesleyan Church on Monday, the event will include short-film screenings with survivors of labor and sex trafficking, which will be followed by a panel discussion and resource fair exploring poverty and hunger as some of the risk factors for human trafficking in the Sacramento area.
Since becoming a founding member of the Sacramento Rescue and Restore Coalition in 2007, Opening Doors Inc. has worked with the coalition to establish its “Survivors of Human Trafficking” program. Through such programs, survivors have been provided shelter, medical care, repatriation, safety planning and training and further resources depending on his or her needs.
Opening Doors’ Anti-Trafficking Outreach Specialist, Rico Ozaki, said community members can help to identify victims and connect them to appropriate services by becoming more informed about human trafficking.
“They may be surprised at the breadth of activities occurring locally,” Ozaki said. “This event will shed light on these issues and include a rescue fair to help attendees connect with some of the local organizations engaged in anti-trafficking activities.”
In October of 2015, FBI officials in Sacramento announced the recovery of five underage victims and the arrest of seven pimps as part of a nationwide operation. Most recently, Sacramento was chosen as one of six cities to flagship a national enforcement team focusing on human trafficking.
“Both labor and sex trafficking are occurring in Sacramento,” Ozaki said. “Victims can be minors or adults, any gender, U.S. born or foreign born.”
Since January is also Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Lions Worldwide Week of Service to Fight Hunger & Poverty is between January 10-16, there will be a suggested donation of nonperishable food in lieu of admission.The Sacramento Metropolitan Lions Club will be collecting and delivering donations to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.
Doors open at 5:30pm. For more information on the event, contact Ozaki at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 209-0626.
More information on local and national human trafficking is available at the Sacramento Rescue and Restore Coalition website at SacramentoRescueandRestore.net.
To report a tip, you can call local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (1-888-3737-888).
Photo by Ira Gelb/CC Flickr