Lynchburg will host A21’s “Walk for Freedom” Oct. 17
Christine Caine’s global anti-human trafficking organization, the A21 Campaign, is out to make its mark in the fight against human trafficking around the world. This time, it is making its rounds in Lynchburg.
Since its start in 2008, the campaign has worked alongside the FBI to find sexual predators. Volunteers continue to visit schools around the world to teach about the dangers of human trafficking, and participants have built hundreds of safe houses for survivors of sexual exploitation according to the campaign’s website.
Now, all they are asking you to do is walk.
The Walk for Freedom, a worldwide effort hosted by the A21 Campaign, is taking place Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. in downtown Lynchburg. To the A21 Campaign, it is a “collective effort to heighten awareness of human trafficking.”
“It’s a silent walk,” Liberty senior Chrystal Bobe said. “It’s not a loud protest. It’s everyone walking in a single file line, wearing black, being a physical representation for the people who don’t have a voice.”
This year Lynchburg joins large cities such as London and Amsterdam that are hosting their own walks. The walk will wrap around the streets of downtown Lynchburg with the goal of spreading awareness to a growing human trafficking problem to the Lynchburg community.
Bobe, who is single-handedly hosting the walk for Lynchburg, said that she gained inspiration for hosting the event after interning with the A21 Campaign in Greece. She takes every chance she can to speak for the need for awareness of human trafficking, especially in the community of Lynchburg.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there was an 88 percent increase in human trafficking cases reported to the agency from 2012 to 2014 in Virginia alone.
According to the Central Virginia Task Force Against Human Trafficking’s website, the city recently invited representatives from A21’s team to hold a conference to educate a group of police officers and social workers about the rising human trafficking problem in central Virginia.
For Bobe, the Walk for Freedom can make significant gains in spreading awareness. This event is a steppingstone for Liberty students and others in the community to better approach human trafficking in their backyard.
“As college students, we feel like we can’t give enough to change anything,” Bobe said. “It’s either ‘I don’t have enough money to give’ or ‘I can’t go overseas and do work on the ground.’ But I think college students have a lot of time to give, and that can make a huge difference.”
To make a difference, Bobe said that she needs more support. With the walk being only a little less than three weeks away, only a handful of students have registered for the event. With the costs of paying for an insurance policy and getting a permit to host the event in Lynchburg, Bobe said that every bit helps.
Last year, The Walk for Freedom took place in 17 countries with 2,000 total participants, according to the A21 Campaign’s website. This year is the second year that the event has existed, and Bobe hopes that Liberty being a part of the walk can help the event gain momentum.
“I seriously think human trafficking can be eradicated,” Bobe said. “It’s a huge task, but I really believe if people work together, and everybody does their part, there’s nothing that can’t be done.”
To register for the Walk for Freedom in Lynchburg, go to www.A21.org or email Bobe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YOUNG is a feature reporter.