Posts made in February 2020

How Music Led to an Extraordinary Global Anti-Trafficking Effort

By Mitzi Perdue

Wincey Terry-Bryant is a musician with a fabulous career. She’s worked with Sting, Tina Turner, Garrison Keillor, and a whole host of other famous people. She’s talented, charismatic, funny, and has a warmth that can light up a room. 

However (and as you might guess, there is a “however”) her music career took an unexpected twist when it led Wincey to devote a large part of her life to combatting human trafficking.  Here’s how it began.

Terry-Bryant in Schools 

Terry-Bryant is often invited by school authorities across New York and New Jersey to share her valuable message.

“I teach students that God gave each of us a gift. Our job is to discover how that gift can bless others and help solve problems in the world.” 

So, in between appearances that included the David Letterman and Arsenio Hall Shows, she visited school stages, to motivate hundreds of students at a time.  Her goal was to inspire youngsters to be all they can be. 

One day, while teaching a songwriting workshop for a class of girls, she asked the students “What shall we write about?”

“Human trafficking,” several of the young women answered, almost in chorus.

This took Terry-Bryant aback. She wasn’t expecting human trafficking to be top-of-mind for the young women at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but she went along with it. “Ok, what important facts should we include in our verses?

Facts about Human Trafficking

The youngsters were quick to answer.

“Children as young as two years old are trafficked.”

“A 76-year old woman was a victim of human trafficking” 

“You can be boy-friended into trafficking.”

The facts and figures kept rushing in. Where does this happen, Terry-Bryant asked?  She was expecting that the answer would be somewhere far, far away, like maybe Africa or India.

The students quickly clued her in. “It’s happening right here in New Jersey.”

They explained that human trafficking is prevalent in New Jersey because the state boasts several airports, seaports, and large number of interstate highways that crisscross the state.  

As they told her, “A trafficker can grab a person and be in another state in less than an hour.” 

Many times, victims are taken out-of-state before they can be reported missing.  With so many neighboring states as potential hiding places, law enforcement doesn’t know where to begin looking.

Terry-Bryant’s anguished train of thought was, “I’m teaching them songwriting–and they’re changing my life!”

The girls completed the music assignment, Terry-Bryant gave them all hugs, and just barely made it to her car.  “For the next two hours, I was bent over my steering wheel, sobbing. Finally, I called my husband, crying. You may have to come get. I’m not sure I can drive.”  

This unexpected songwriting session, turned human trafficking 101, changed Wincey forever. Not long after, she founded Traffick Jam.  It’s a global effort, and its mission is: 

  • To empower existing anti-trafficking NGOs objectives by educating new international workers to assist and support in varied areas of skill through train the trainer programs for workers worldwide.
  • To pioneer new projects internationally to reduce harms caused by power imbalances, gender bias, and exploitation
  • To empower exploited people through emotional healing, financial, educational and spiritual opportunities to restore their lives to their original God-given design

Traffick Jam reaches thousands of people each year through arts education programs that use live musical stage plays. Professional actors demonstrate strategies and tactics used by traffickers to entrap victims.

Wincey also collaborated with organizations and friends around the world to create the multi-lingual coloring book and cd set “Safe”. The book teaches early childhood audiences to recognize healthy relationships and practice safety.

For more information, visit TraffickJam.info. Among the rewards for visiting this site are six ways that you can raise human trafficking awareness.

Mitzi Perdue is founder of the Anti-Trafficking organization, Win This Fight, and author of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@WinThisFight.org or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

 

Preventing Trafficking by Changing Hearts and Minds

 

By Mitzi Perdue

Everyone has his or her own story for why they want to combat human trafficking. In the case of Jennifer Keltner, Founder of Rescue Party Give, it began when she was a terrified little girl.

A Child’s Sense of Security is Ripped Away

As you hear Keltner tell what happened, you get the impression that it’s like a film, with flashbacks and jump cuts.  The first scene is when she’s a three-year old, happily playing by herself in her family’s back yard.

“There was a 14-year old boy in the yard next to where I was,” she remembers. “He held up a bright, shiny quarter. I was fascinated. He wanted me to come over and see it.”

The boy lured her over to his house.

Keltner’s voice quavers as she recounts what happened next, almost as if reliving it: “We’re on the porch. He’s pulling my diapers down. He’s touching me.”

If this were a documentary, the camera would now pull back and Keltner would voice-over, using a firm, factual, almost clinical tone: “The touching was in the genital area. Technically, this is assault.”

The next thing the camera would show is an extreme close-up of Keltner’s mother clutching her little girl tightly against her chest. The camera would pull back to a medium close-up, seeing that the mother with her mouth wide open, screaming and screaming at the top of her lungs, shouting to the neighbors about what had happened.

Flash forward to a hospital room.  A doctor is telling the mother, “Your daughter is OK. Her hymen has not been broken.”

 Permanent Awareness of Vulnerability

For the rest of her life, Keltner has felt gratitude to her mother for saving her from something that had the potential of being truly awful. She still has some unanswered questions.  “Was the boy beaten for his act?  Did he become a pedophile?”

This experience left Keltner with an awareness that children are vulnerable and that in a moment, what seems like carefree safety can be transformed into terror that leaves a mark for the rest of a person’s life.

Keltner’s career has been in the travel industry.  However, because of her lifelong interest in and empathy for the vulnerable, she’s been eager to help anti-trafficking organizations, such as the International Justice Mission (IJM).

In 2012, she helped IJM raise a million dollars in one evening. “I collaborated  with my travel industry colleagues to create numerous amazing different silent auction items.” These included VIP trips to Turkey, or adventures with Navy Seals or complementary stays at Marriott Hotels.

Thinking back on this volunteer experience, she points out, “It was the first time IJM ever raised a million dollars in a single evening.”

Today, as the founder of Rescue Party Give, she is still working on innovative ways to stop human trafficking.  In this case, she’s aiming at something that few other anti-trafficking organizations focus on.

Prevent the Demand

“Our goal,” she explains, “is to help prevent the demand.”

How does she go about this?  “Rescue Party Give creates beautiful family-centered neighborhood events. In a typical one, the event is free, and we have anti-trafficking films, musicians performing songs of freedom, and local restaurants will donate heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine.”

It’s something everyone can get behind, including having kids hear stories that will help keep them safe.  The whole community hears how huge the problem of trafficking is, and how important it is to protect the community’s children.

People who attend one of the Rescue Party Give events no longer accept the idea of turning a blind eye to sexual exploitation.

Fathers who have been to one of these aren’t going to think it’s cool to have sons go to a brothel as a rite of passage.. Instead, they see that what’s really at stake is modern slavery with human beings for sale.

Keltner aims to address human trafficking on a subliminal level. Her goal is for people to understand at a deep, deep level that exploiting other people is wrong.

For more information go to www.rescuepartygive.org and volunteer your talent, or  host a RescuePartyGive event in your neighborhood.

 

Mitzi Perdue is the founder of Win This Fight, and author of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

Atlas Rescue – Sean Williamson

ATLAS RESCUE

Sean Williamson, a Former Green Beret and Founder of Atlas Rescue, has an important story.  However, before we get to it, he has what may be surprising yet reassuring information for you.

Although the information may not apply to you, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that it does. If you work in the anti-trafficking field and you have even a reasonably high profile – maybe you’re on the Internet, or you give talks, or you donate money to anti-trafficking causes – do you need to worry that the traffickers will find you and harm you? Or your children?

Do You Need to Worry?

Williamson’s answer is, “In almost every case, no!”  He goes on to qualify that statement by explaining that if you’re engaged in actual rescues, you may be in danger, or if you’re in law enforcement prosecuting traffickers there can be danger.

Still, short of these two cases, the traffickers could care less about you. “They know that anti-trafficking efforts are so ineffective,” he points out, “that less than half of 1% of victims will ever be rescued each year.”

He goes on observe that in our current state of affairs, most people who combat human trafficking aren’t even on the traffickers’ radar screens. Williamson, with his special ops background, was shocked by the fact that traffickers are so little concerned with being caught and so unconcerned about doing anything about those who are trying to stop them.

“I was expecting traffickers to act like terrorists, with encrypted messages and hiding everything they do.  But no, they’re  just using private groups on Facebook!”  In other words, they act with impunity. And they’re not particularly bothered by you.

Williamson and His Colleagues Do Experience Risk

Unlike most of us, Williamson and his team of retired military specialist are in the category of people who are in danger.  His for-profit company, Atlas Rescue provides specialized security services, and criminals are highly likely to want to cause harm to him and his colleagues.

To see an example of the kind of work Atlas Rescue does, imagine for a horrible moment that you discover that there’s an organization that wants to kill you.  You go to the police, and a likely response is something along the lines of, “We wish you luck, but we can’t help.”  

Dealing with threats like this isn’t the job of police. However, it is the job of the Atlas team of retired special ops people.

They exist to help people like the imaginary you who find themselves in situations somewhere in the world where they need security.  Or possibly they need rescue.  

What’s special about the for-profit Atlas Rescue company is, revenue from the for-profit side is part of what helps fund their non-profit arm, Atlas Humanitarian Rescue. The charity specializes in fighting human trafficking.

The reach of this non-profit is global and they’re adept at working with other countries. “With our anti human trafficking expertise,” Williamson explains, “other countries invite us to provide training to the local police and military.”

The special ops teams work to be so culturally sensitive that they’ll be invited back over and over again. “Our attitude is,” says Williamson: “We are a guest of that nation, and we’re there to help them push the ball forward.”  

Williamson can take satisfaction knowing that he’s part of helping, but he’s also quick to point out that he hasn’t helped as much as he wants.  But still, he keeps on working towards his goal:  “Create a worldwide effort of such highly trained anti-trafficking forces that potential human traffickers will be so afraid of who will come for them in the middle of the night, that they will not even consider enslaving another human for profit.”

What a great goal!  To learn more, go to: https://atlasrescue.org

 

Mitzi Perdue is a business owner, speaker. and author of  52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at 410 860-4444.