By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
For many, human trafficking seems like something that takes place in a faraway land when in reality it could be happening right next door.
“There was a mother who was human trafficking her own daughter,” said Women At Risk Youth Ambassador Jenn Amo, who is the featured guest of the Community Awareness’s upcoming show on Women at Risk, International show set to air this month.
Amo tells Community Awareness host Donna Kidner-Smith that there is a lot of misconceptions about human trafficking in that those involved in the trade will target just about anyone: age, race, income and gender really don’t matter.
“In West Michigan, at any given time, about 2,400 minors are for sale,” Amo said, adding that while most of these are online, the number is appalling.
The goal of Women at Risk, International (WAR), a non-profit headquartered in Wyoming, is to provide protection around at-risk women and children. The organization hosts a number of programs designed to help those in need along with educating the public on a variety of issues such as human trafficking.
Amo visits schools and other organizations talking to students and parents about the signs of and how to prevent becoming a victim of human trafficking.
“We call it our wheel of risk because everybody, no matter who you are, faces multiple things in a lifetime,” Amo said. “Sometimes you can handle it on your own and at other times you don’t know where to turn.”
Through the Community Awareness program, Amo discusses the signs of human trafficking, safety steps people can take to avoid or prevent it, and the importance that the entire community must stay vigilant in reporting questionable activities.
“The traffickers have always been there,” Amo said during the program. “As marijuana was legalized, people thought it would just eliminated what the traffickers do. Instead, we saw an increase in human trafficking. They basically just changed what they were trafficking.”
Amo also discusses what WAR is about, volunteer opportunities and the WAR Chest Boutiques located at 2790 44th St. SW, Wyoming, and 25 Squires St. Square NE, Rockford. These stores are the retail arm of the non-profit featuring hand-crafted items created by at-risk-women (and some at-risk-men) in WAR’s partnering programs that are in more than 40 countries including the United States.
For more about WAR, visit www.warintertnational.org. The Community Awareness program featuring Women At Risk runs Monday, March 7, at 9 p.m. , Wednesday, March 9, at 11 a.m. and Friday March 11, at 10 a.m.
For a complete WKTV lineup, visit www.wktv.org.