Clear Vision for Trafficking Awareness Month

Let us each be aware of those who are struggling in the throws of trafficking at this time. Some are facing a situation they feel are inescapable. Others may be able to escape and yet feel unable or unwilling to leave their situations because of fear or a sense that they are in a situation they deserve.

This month there are a few opportunities to learn more about human trafficking here in Dubuque, Iowa.

On January 6, at 6:00 a free discussion for teens and adults covering human trafficking basics and the unique vulnerabilities local teens face.

pinStatera: Integrated Health and Wellness Solutions3375 Lake Ridge Drive, Dubuque, Iowa 52003

On January 11, at 10 AM, I Am Still Here will screen at the Grand Opera House. 135 8th Street, Dubuque, IA 52001

There will be free parking in the ramp across the street. This screening is held thanks to the Tri-state Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Before the screening local service agencies will have information booths open starting at 9:30 AM. After the film will be a Q&A with local service providers.

On January 30, a free screening of the documentary Gridshock will address human trafficking in Iowa. This film is part of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival’s Winter Film Series. Afterward, questions will be answered by the documentary’s director, Vanessa McNeal.

Powerful Connections

Powerful connections are those connections that can cause transformation. We at Set Free are blessed to have connections that are transforming the lives of trafficking victims and survivors in our community. Below are just a few examples.

We are so grateful for the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and the sustained commitment the festival has to films that create awareness. Each year, during the film festival held in late April, we get the opportunity to answer questions and address local concerns about trafficking. Throughout the rest of the year, we will hear from people who saw a film and they share how a film’s message has stayed in their minds.

Tonight we were contacted by a festival attendee/volunteer because he had heard about disconcerting behavior in the Dubuque area. After talking for a bit, he shared the number of a local pastor who had witnessed predatory behavior and needed assistance in knowing what to do next.

Lights for Liberty Event – hosted by Indivisible Dubuque speech given at Washington Park, Dubuque, Iowa 7/12/2019

Good evening.

Thank you to Indivisible Dubuque for inviting me to present tonight.

I am Suzie Wright and represent Set Free Dubuque. It is a local non-profit that educates the public, advocates for survivors, and eliminates the demand for human trafficking.

Let us take a few moments to recognize the members of the Tri-state Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery, and anyone else in the audience who seeks justice for trafficking victims, immigrants, and refugees in our community and around the globe.

It breaks my heart that we need a night like this, and yet, here we are.

Bradley Myles, CEO of the Polaris Project, states, “We cannot let growing anti-immigrant rhetoric create a climate of fear for vulnerable populations and prevent immigrant victims from seeking help. Traffickers are emboldened by anti-immigrant statements and policies, which they can weaponize as more powerful threats.” Polaris Statement on a Border Wall and Human Trafficking, WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 1, 2019)

Looking away from the heart-rending circumstances, the border refugees face, is too easily-done from our comfortable, midwestern homes.

The connection between what happens on the border and what happens in Iowa is closer than we realize. These issues may be the reality for our co-workers, our neighbors, and our family members.

Do not be distracted by political agendas and forget that these stories are about living and breathing people, many of whom are children with no home, no sense of security, and often no family.

It does not matter if you agree with why they and their families came to this country, what matters is that they are human beings deserving of humanitarian aid and compassion.

Traffickers take advantage of people all through this story.

They prey on the vulnerable in their home countries, as they pass through other countries, and as they arrive in the states.

Even worse, when the refugees have found shelter here in the United States, they are still vulnerable to being trafficked. This border crisis supplies easy targets for traffickers. 

We know of the stories of children sold, we know the stories of children stolen, and the tragic stories of those placed in the hands of traffickers who were to foster these children.

Those children need us to do better.

We need to seek out justice through every resource we have.

Seek out our elected officials. Respectfully demand justice.

Seek out wise choices in the agencies you fund by sending donations to well-established and respected agencies.

Seek out volunteer opportunities at local charities, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Scouting, and the Fountain of Youth. Empower the young through mentorships to realize they are not commodities with price tags.

Finally, I challenge those of you with the resource of time, use it well. Consider going to the border, seek out those places desperate for more helping hands. Be present.

Good evening.

P.S. There is an event coming up on July 30. Keep reading previous posts for details.

Below are photos of the event taken by Suzie Wright and Laura Field.

Freedom and Liberty?

Oddly enough, there was little overt patriotism this first week of July 2019. Fewer flags than usual flew this weekend. There weren’t as many patriotic songs on the radio, and even on the 4th of July, there weren’t very many people decked out in red, white, and blue.

My Netflix feed didn’t promote any epic “America is awesome,” films and neither did Hulu. Here in Iowa, the week consisted of relentless fireworks mixed with humidity and heat. Visible patriotism was light, even among the numerous presidential ads.

Are we beginning to question what defines freedom from liberty?
Is American society becoming humble?
How do we achieve freedom for all?
What is the quality of our liberty?

Americans do not enjoy a pristine past when it comes to the concepts of freedom and liberty. Our country is extremely polarized on these issues. Thankfully, many now see human trafficking is unjust. It destroys the fabric of our freedom and inhibits the individual liberty of anyone subjected to the travesty of human bondage.

Even in our bleakest times, ordinary citizens stood for liberty for others. Many sought freedom for those in bondage and restored liberty for the oppressed.

I am honored to know many people who work to set others free from the bonds of human trafficking. They will never have a parade thrown for them. And yet, they deserve celebrations filled with great joy, fireworks, and waving banners.

Learn More About Human Trafficking and how to stop it July 30 6:30-7:30 Convivium Urban Farm 2811 Jackson St, Dubuque, IA Free event with light refreshments Questions? 563.451.7914