UMCOR’s Armenia field office offers a holistic program of services to women, children, and men who have been trafficked or enslaved and who seek to reintegrate into society.
By Klay S. Williams*
January 10, 2013—A travesty that has marked our world for centuries has received national awareness in the United States. Since 2011, January has been recognized in the U.S. as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“Trafficking in human beings is a crime that deprives people of their basic rights and freedoms. It increases global health risks, fuels growing networks of organized crime, and is an obstacle to development,” remarks Nicholas Jaeger of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Jaeger is a program manager working with UMCOR’s field office in Armenia and its anti-trafficking program.
Often we are horrified when we hear about news stories that describe cases of slavery and human trafficking. Although the spotlight eventually fades on those crimes, the devastation experienced by survivors remains an ongoing nightmare—often shadowing a survivor for the rest of her or his life.
“The impacts of human trafficking on the individual, the family, and society are devastating,” says Jaeger. “Those who are trafficked may suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, and threats against themselves and their families. Human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of nations and has long-term implications for all of society.”
So, where are these crimes occurring?
“Trafficking in human beings is not a crime that occurs only in far-off places in the developing world. Trafficked persons, especially women and girls, can be found in the United States and other developed nations,” Jaeger explains.
While the psychological and emotional experiences of survivors post-slavery/ trafficking are not the same, all survivors are challenged to remake their lives in society. “Survivors of human trafficking face many challenges, but successful reintegration into society may be one of the biggest,” says Jaeger.
UMCOR’s anti-trafficking program in Armenia is the only program in that country that provides a holistic set of services to survivors of human trafficking to ease their journey to wholeness and facilitate their return to their communities. It includes a toll-free hotline and a shelter, and offers survivors psychological and medical care, legal assistance, education, and vocational development.
The program also includes community education and sensitization activities to try to stem the tide of human slavery in the first place.
“Reuniting survivors with their families, providing them with skills to support themselves and their children without falling prey to further victimization by traffickers, and connecting survivors with needed services: these are just some of the tools that UMCOR provides to assist survivors’ reintegration,” Jaeger says.
Ultimately, how can you help prevent the trafficking in human beings?
Jaeger highlights the following recommendations:
- Become educated on the subject. Find organizations in your community that raise awareness of slavery and/or human trafficking, and get involved in their work. Contact your political representatives to learn how they are addressing these crimes through the legislative process.
- Pressure your legislators to support local, national, and international efforts to combat slavery/human trafficking. And support the work of UMCOR through our Anti-Trafficking Global Advance.
Make National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month the most effective and memorable by doing your part to help heal the world.
Your gift to UMCOR Advance #333615 will help UMCOR to alleviate the suffering of survivors of human trafficking and prevent others from being ensnared by it.
*Klay S. Williams is a writer and contributor to www.umcor.org