By Maribel Rivera
Human trafficking thrives on chaos and desperation in communities already ravaged by situations including addiction and poverty. While we do not – and cannot – know exactly what the long term affects of the global pandemic are on sex and labor trafficking here in the United States, we can be pretty sure that those underserved communities are even more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation in the wake of this massive, worldwide economic and social disruption.
With layoffs, furloughs and businesses closing, we will see those with generational wealth or accumulated savings recover from the economic devastation of this crisis struggle through but eventually recover more easily while others will fall deeper into poverty.
How this will work for labor and sex trafficking is pretty clear. People will take jobs that may be exploitative, off-the-books; less than minimum wage, or with no wage at all and with no legal or health protections. For people in dire economic straits, or without legal documentation to work in this country, traffickers will find ways to keep them trapped in these situations.
This means we must stay vigilant and continue to raise awareness, provide support to victims, and find other ways to minimize harm to vulnerable groups.
On our part, Life Preservers Project is coming up with innovative ways to raise funds, but also give back to each of you. In May, we held a music event courtesy of our friends at Jet City and streamed it online. Most recently, our founder produced handmade face masks for a minimum donation of $13.00. For each donation received, a customized face mask of their choosing was sent to the donor, and with each contribution one additional mask will be distributed by the Life Preservers team to the homeless as well as those in shelters. In the coming months, we will host virtual walk/run fundraisers and Facebook Live discussions.
During all of this, the donations you provide give us the ability to provide $1500 worth of meals monthly to those in shelters. It also allows us to provide online art programs for members of our underserved communities as well as much needed essentials including face masks.
The energy and response from our community in sharing what we are doing as well as donating to help our programs has been overwhelming.
We thank you for your continued support and generosity.