By Katie Ellington, Contributing Writer
Every thirty seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern slavery. According to the A21 Campaign, human trafficking is the largest growing criminal industry in the world, with the number of enslaved persons higher than ever at 27 million. These sobering statistics are the reason that Threedom, an anti-slavery campus organization, exists.
“I like being part of an organization that fights for justice,” said Bruce Truax, who manages the group’s Facebook page. “Unless there are activist groups and people going around advocating human rights, things will deteriorate.”
The group originated from a couple of classes during the 2011-2012 academic year, according to Threedom president Kelly Hall. The name stands for “Three Steps to Freedom.” Threedom members believe that these three steps—engage, empower and emancipate—are crucial to ending slavery.
“Threedom’s purpose is to engage students and community members with the topic of human trafficking; empowering them to join the fight… to emancipate women and men enslaved by this industry,” said Hall.
The group works to raise awareness on campus with monthly events. Last semester’s events included a movie night, a lecture from a human trafficking survivor and the Fair Trade market event that took place in the student center last December. The student center was full of tables of crafts, from clothes to carvings to jewelry, made by women in third world countries who have escaped slavery and are now artisans making fair wages.
“I was little nervous because we had only confirmed four vendors as opposed to the five to seven we had last year,” said Hall in an email. “But God blessed us… We had a pretty steady flow of students and faculty. Each vendor raised from $300 to over $1000 that night, which is a huge success.”
The group is currently planning spring events, including a Freedom Run in March and a two-day Threedom Conference in April entitled Restoring Human Dignity: Engage, Empower, Emancipate. They will also be hosting a movie night this month. The admission cost: one unused chapstick.
Threedom’s chapstick ministry is based on a similar project by Lexington’s Hope Campaign. Once a month, volunteers bring unused chapsticks to local gas stations, hotels, and truck stops and place them in public restrooms. The chapsticks are labeled with information about what human trafficking is and the number of the state Human Trafficking Hotline. Public restrooms are often one of the few places that victims are alone. After the Lexington Hope Campaign launched its chapstick outreach program, calls to the Kentucky hotline increased by 71 percent.
“We went to some shady hotels and restaurants,” said Truax.
In addition to working on campus and in the Nicholasville area, Threedom also maintains a network chapter via Facebook, Twitter and its website, threedomfront.org. The website features articles, blog posts and an interactive map that shows which countries have the lowest and highest rates of human trafficking.
“We have a wonderful leadership team that works in these areas, and we are always looking for more to join and connect,” said Hall.
Interested in becoming a Threedom member? Contact Kelly Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lydia Sisco (email@example.com) or Lynn Schmidt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or check out threedomfront.org.