GFU Student Campaigns Against Human Trafficking
Reported by Jen Wright
On October 20, people across the world participated in the Walk for Freedom march, including Meghan Elford, a student at George Fox University (GFU).
The walk was started by the nonprofit organization A21, which stands for “21st Century Abolitionists” and combats human trafficking worldwide.
Elford, an intern for Spiritual and Intercultural Life (SpIL), tried to organize a group of GFU students to walk in Portland, but wasn’t able to get enough people for a group.
Elford is not surprised by the lack of interest shown. This is the first year a walk has been organized, and it’s hard to get students interested in brand-new events. She said that most of the lack of interest shown in campus outreach events is due to students not wanting to try new things.
“I’ve noticed a lot, this year compared to last year, people just don’t want to participate. They don’t feel safe, they just don’t want to do something out of their comfort zone,” Elford said. “I think it’s just repetition that will get people, hopefully.”
Elford is studying inter-cultural sociology, and wants to pursue a masters in nonprofit at Portland State University. She has been involved with various missions and charities for many years, and last year she joined a group of GFU students on a mission trip to Romania. The trip focused on immersion and service, and Elford saw first-hand the effects of human sex trafficking.
“There are so many people that are being forced to do this—children that are being sold into this, people across the world that cannot get money—so they have to resort to this,” Elford said.
“I worked with this girl at the organization, she is nine years old, her mom and her sister are in prison for prostituting, and she’s already started to take on the family role [herself].
“It’s really hard for me to watch people be like, ‘oh that doesn’t happen in our city’, or like, ‘well, that’s somebody else’s problem’,” Elford said. “[Highway] 99 is one of the biggest trafficking highways in Oregon. It’s so easy to get from a port and get to the city.”
Even simple things like anonymous text messages are a potential danger. Replying can give away the location of the user.
Students can still help A21 by donating or helping spread word about the cause. Elford hopes a walk will be organized next year and attract more participants. Meanwhile, Elford is running a clothing drive for Door to Grace, a ministry for young girls affected by sex trafficking.
“I have had mixed success there, because people didn’t have to go anywhere, they just had to donate stuff,” Elford said.
Elford is also planning a day to make and eat a meal together with girls from the Door to Grace program on Nov. 28. Students are encouraged to donate food or time, and see how they can get involved by contacting Elford at the SpIL office.