Raising awareness for sex trafficking both locally and abroad
LANGLEY, British Columbia – Since an eye-opening trip to Liberia four years ago, when Trinity Western’s Mariah Perry (Everson, Wash.) heard the stories of young girls who had been stuck in the world of sex trafficking, the Spartans first-year guard has made it her mission to help raise awareness for sex trafficking both locally and abroad. As part of her efforts, she recently helped award two scholarships to a pair of Grade 12 students in Washington who are similarly working towards helping spread awareness.
This past Friday, Perry spoke at an event in Washington where she, alongside a Whatcom County Coalition Group, which is connected with Hope for Justice, awarded scholarships (one for $500 and one for $1,000) to two students who completed their year-end Grade 12 projects – a culminating project of that is required to graduate in some districts within Washington – with a focus on raising awareness for sex trafficking. At the end of the night, the coalition also surprised Perry with a $1,000 scholarship.
When Perry was in Grade 12, her culminating project saw her develop a “Tour of Oppression,” in which she hosted a dramatic evening that portrayed the plight of women involved in sex trafficking, both in the United States and around the world. She had friends help act out real stories in a dramatic fashion of women who were involved in sex trafficking, with the goal of helping people understand the realities of what is happening right in their own communities and around the world. From that, Perry connected with the Whatcom County Coalition Group and helped develop the scholarship program.
“In each room in the Tour of Oppression the girls demonstrated the tragedies that each of them faces and really showed how common this was,” said Perry. “For me, it was about bringing awareness to the fact that this is going on right here. It’s not just girls in foreign countries who are being trafficked like this.”
When Perry was in Liberia staying with her aunt and uncle, who were missionaries, she heard the stories of local girls who had been victims of sex trafficking. The largely teenaged girls were in the latter stages of a program that had helped them escape from sex trafficking.
“I was one of those people who didn’t know anything and I was exposed to it,” said Perry, who is studying psychology and is finishing her first year at TWU “I walked into a room and heard these horrible stories. I wanted other people to experience the same thing I experienced and that’s what I was trying to portray in the Tour of Oppression.
“After the event, there were so many people who just said they had no idea this was so prevalent and that’s what the whole purpose was behind the project.”
Beyond awareness, she also raised more than $400 on the night of the Tour of Oppression.
“I wasn’t expecting anything in terms of money, so it was really cool how God took my project and made it even bigger than I imagined,” said Perry, who sent the money that was raised back to the rescue home in Liberia.
Since completing her project, Perry has continued to push for awareness and this summer will volunteer at a Washington-based rescue and relief home that helps women escape the world of sex trafficking.
“Sometimes I think people don’t care about all this, but it’s just that they don’t know and they don’t know how to respond or what to do,” Perry said.
You can help spread awareness by sharing videos like the one Perry played at the beginning of her Tour of Oppression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMyExi2q-ZI
If you ever have any suspicions of human trafficking, you can the Human Trafficking Hotlines in Canada: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ht-tp/cont-eng.htm or in the United States: http://traffickingresourcecenter.org/.