Leigh Forbush is a Global Citizenship Fellow with the New England Regional Office of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
What is human trafficking? Where does it occur? Why is it happening? Who is helping to combat it? What is the historical context of this appalling practice? This past weekend, I, along with 17 U.S. Fund for UNICEF volunteers, learned more about human trafficking at Free2Walk Boston. An annual event sponsored by the anti-trafficking group Not For Sale, Free2Walk proclaims no human being should be for sale. The event comprised a two-hour guided tour of sites of the abolitionist movement in Boston.
As the Global Citizenship Fellow in Boston, I was thrilled to learn about this event! I knew it would be a great way to educate our Boston UNICEF volunteers and raise awareness about a new U.S. Fund for UNICEF project, End Trafficking, that was established in 2011 to advocate and educate others about child trafficking in the United States. I thought to myself, “What if we mobilized our UNICEF volunteers to participate in this Free2Walk event that has a goal similar to ours: a day when ZERO children are exploited?” Because our End Trafficking project is new, I wasn’t sure many volunteers would be interested in coming. Boy was I wrong! On Saturday, September 8th at 9:00 a.m. UNICEF volunteers gathered at the Boston Common Parkman Bandstand for the event. We had representation from UNICEF Campus Initiative Clubs, UNICEF High School Clubs, UNICEF volunteers and friends new to UNICEF! The event was fantastic! Our two groups of U.S. Fund for UNICEF volunteers traveled to over 12 locations in downtown Boston, visiting sites from both the historical abolitionist movement and the current fight to end trafficking. We learned about all facets of slavery and trafficking, from the meetings in the 1800s at the first African-American Meeting House, to William Lloyd Garrison’s speeches in Quincy Market, to recent anti-trafficking legislation by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, to the importance of buying fair-trade goods from stores like Ten Thousand Villages. After the walk, we returned to the Parkman Bandstand for a debriefing on all the fascinating things we had just seen and heard. We were newly energized and motivated to combat trafficking. Luckily, Free2Walk and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF have many ways to take action! The question was, what were we going to do? Were we going to volunteer at a local organization that helps survivors of trafficking? Or use social media to raise our voices? Or sign the letter writing campaign to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2011? We hope to do all this and more. Will you? Learn more at our UNICEF Action Center and join us in the movement to end this horrible form of exploitation and abuse!