by Jessica Robb
Being in the UCM Public Relations Program for a year and a half, I have learned a lot about the public relations profession and have considered which industries interests me most. Sports public relations would be really fun in my opinion, but on the other hand public relation for nonprofits interests me as well. Recently my heart has been set on nonprofit work, and the End It movement is one of the reasons why my love for non-profit has grown even more.
This January I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta for my first ever Passion Conference. For those who do not know or have never heard of Passion, you could think of it as a really, really big church that takes place in four days.
As I left with my church group from our home church on two huge buses, I knew my mind was going to be blown. Little did I know that this experience was about to completely change my life. There were a lot of people; to be exact, there were more than 60,000 people that filled the Dome, making this the largest Passion Conference ever held in North America. Immediately, I knew something big going to happen here, but it wasn’t until the second day that this revelation would come to light.
After we finished the main session guest speaker Louie Giglio, really the Pastor for the Conference, warned us that what we were about to watch on the giant screen was not going to be pleasant and that “if there are children in the audience I am going to have to ask that parents please take them out into the halls for a while.” In that moment I wondered if I should have joined them.
I won’t explain in great detail what I watched in the video, but I can tell you I have never felt so many different emotions in such as a short span of time in my entire life. It was the story about a little girl, maybe 11 years old at the time, who had run away from her home because she was being abused. When she got to the city she was hungry and thirsty but had no money to buy these things. So she began working for a man who offered her these things, but in return she had to work for him, as a sex slave. He threatened her saying that if she tried to run or steal his money he would find her and kill her.
After working for him for several months, she knew she had to find a way out. Then one night, she along with several other girls were on a boat with these men who were going to take them away when the police found them and arrested the men. All the girls were taken to the police station and were held over night. The next day a lawyer from International Justice Mention met with them told them that were safe and he couldn’t hurt them anymore. They had been rescued and eventually the man who was selling them was arrested and is in jail serving his sentence.
As soon as the video stopped I remember the entire Dome was silent, aside from a few sniffles here and there. I wiped away tears from my eyes and took several deep breaths. Her story is one of 27 million people that are being sold as slaves. They are told they have no rights, that they are property, and are threatened and brutally beaten if they try to escape.
This is wrong, and we know it is. And yet we remain silent about it. Why is it that we don’t want to talk about it? What, because it is sickening and heartbreaking? Of course it is, but that is why we need to talk about it. That is why we need to know more about it, so we can help spread the word. As an aspiring public relations professional, I know how big of an impact social media and communicative efforts that tug at your emotions has on spreading the word for any organization. Most everything that the End It Movement team communicates is through social media. It is also important to note that the End It Movement understands how to get its audience emotionally involved, without making people feel guilty. Human trafficking is not a light subject. However the End It Movement exemplifies strategies that pull people in and entice them to engage and rally around a cause, instead of driving them away. The movement’s simple goal of spreading awareness makes people feel like they can actually make a difference. This should be more relevant among all nonprofits today.
For those of you who don’t know what the End It Movement is or have never even heard about it, you should look into it. Right now men, women and children are being bought and sold in human trafficking. They are being forced to work in factories, in fields and in brothels, against their will. It is hard to grasp that this is going on, I know, but it is. Did you know Kansas City is the fourth largest hub in the United States for sex trafficking? Did you know that most of the people being trafficked here are under 18 and some are even children?
This is happening right here in our area. The innocence of our nation is being targeted and most of us don’t even know that it is happening. Aren’t we supposed to learn from our mistakes? At least, that’s what we say about history. The truth is that slavery never ended. But we can do something to change this.
I want to encourage you to visit www.enditmovement.com to learn more about how End It is teamed up with seven coalition partners to raise awareness to the different types of slavery and are in it to stop it. We should be too. Now I know you are probably thinking “well can we really end it?” My answer to you is that if we spread the word and get people talking about it then we have already done more than before.
We have the power to spread the word in so many different ways. Get involved and the join the movement. A lot has already happened, but we still have a long way to go. So I guess the only thing left to ask is this: Are you in it to End It?