Learning to be a Change Agent in the Face of Modern Slavery

By Hana Ashchi

On the evening of Friday, February 21 I attended the ArtWorks for Freedom’s “Face-to-Face with Modern Day Slavery.” Attending this event and seeing the passion, hard work and dedication of everyone who put this event together almost brought me to tears. It was a very moving experience. From watching a dance performance to listening to a survivor’s story about how she was trafficked at the age of 13. All of the people who spoke on stage made an impact in my life.

Keynote speaker, Benjamin Skinner, came in to speak to us about modern-day slavery happening overseas. There are these large organizations and companies who treat their workers like dirt and pay them little to nothing. Everyday people are tortured to death but cannot do much about it because they usually have a debt to pay or are forced into it. This made me realize that these multi-billion dollar businesses only care about making as much money as possible and leaving their workers with scraps. What kind of life are these people living?

Who can define who is better than the other? People should not be treated like dirt based on their income or where they grew up. It is hard to believe sometimes that this is still happening in the world today. You would think slavery ended years ago; unfortunately it is still happening today.
I learned that speaking up and ‘going with your gut’ can change how you see other people and just how you see the days ahead of you. As an interfaith leader, I have learned what it means to take action and be a part of something bigger. When the survivor came on stage to speak about her experience, I felt out of my comfort zone and out of my skin. I was so moved by this story and could almost feel her pain. My skin crawled with goose bumps thinking that this actually happens to little kids. For a while I wanted to hear more but then I also wasn’t sure if I could handle anymore.
Listening to her story made me think about all the women in my life and almost brought tears to my eyes. I respected her for having the courage to go on stage and speak in front of 200 people. We need more people like her to influence people and help them get on the right track.

Human Trafficking happens all over the world and it seems like no one really knows about it. I think that what I am doing at the Interfaith Center and being involved with raising awareness about Human Trafficking has helped me realize that we have a lot more work to do. We can host documentaries and information sessions, but we need to start sooner. People need to realize that modern-day slavery is happening in people’s own backyards.

This experience has motivated me to want to teach others about this tragedy and how we can help. So far I am working at the Interfaith Center to teach students about this but I am also presenting it in my speech class to inform students about it as well. It is the little things that can add up to become bigger things. One day I am speaking to a group of students and the next day something bigger could happen. You have to stay positive to be able to stay motivated and motivate others. I think that by doing this, I can become a ‘change agent’ and work towards trying to make the world a better place.

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