College students belonging to InterVarsity Chrisitan Fellowship USA at two universities led a live webcast campaign Tuesday that resulted in more than 2,400 people calling Congress members to voice their support of victim protection laws against child slavery.
Volunteer students encouraged other students during the webcast to call and push politicians to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which expires at the end of this month. Bills to reauthorize it are currently before the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The students at Ohio State and George Washington universities went “on air” for seven hours to help walk people through the process of calling a Congress member, something organizers said can be intimidating for a young person.
By the end of the day, and with reports still coming in, more than 2,400 people had called their senators, according to organizers. The campaign was organized by World Vision’s ACT:S ministry, a program encouraging political activism among young people. The grassroots ministry is within the international relief organization’s U.S. offices.
“There’s so much we can do in terms of the human trafficking issue by making our voices heard and passing the type of legislation that’s really going to make a difference,” said James Pedrick, program director for ACT:S. “You can send 1,000 letters to Congress, but one phone call is the equivalent because Congress is not counting emails and letters in the same way anymore.”
GW student Quinn Baron produced a promotional video for the event and was part of the group that encouraged students to place calls and take part in a prayer chain.
“The idea of 27 million slaves around the world in different forms of slavery is appalling on a human level,” Baron said. “It wasn’t that long ago that we had slavery here in America and some people think that was the last stronghold of slavery in the world, but it’s still going on in big ways. I would encourage people to do what they can to help end it.”
Hosted online at Livestream, students were able to participate in a chat room and ask questions.
“It’s so intimidating for a young person to call their Senator if they’ve never done it before even thought it’s so simple,” Pedrick said. “We did this at Delaware University last year and it became popular through social media.”
Gia Coluccio, who was one of the online hosts at GW, said that as the result of the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, many people get their information on important social issues online.
“We need to be educating ourselves about what is going on. It is something that God has called us to do,” Coluccio said.
“My faith in Jesus, and everything I read in the Bible on a day to day basis has to do with living our faith out and using the gifts that God has given us to help other people,” she said. “Here in the U.S., (human trafficking) is not that’ something that is not visible all the time, but it’s definitely going on. We can’t be blinded.”
Human trafficking includes the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a child or adult for profit, said World Vision communication leader James Addis. “It’s estimated that there are more than 12 million trafficked people in the world today – a $32 billion industry.
“Every day, children are forced to perform sexual acts or work long hours in filthy, dangerous conditions for the financial benefit of someone else,” stated Addis on World Vision’s blog.