In commemorating National Modern Day Slavery and Human
Trafficking Prevention Month, the Dominican Sisters of Houston, along with
other members of Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, participated in
activities during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Houston. On January 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day,
we hosted, in collaboration with St. Luke’s Health, a Prayer and Labyrinth Walk
in memory of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and human trafficking
survivors. In a contemplative setting, participants were asked to walk the
labyrinth and engage in other activities quietly.
Kimberly Williams from St. Luke’s Health explained the RED
SAND PROJECT, which is a participatory action created by Molly Goodman that
uses sidewalk interventions to create opportunities for people to question,
connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human
trafficking and exploitation. While the
original concept is to have people out in the streets filling in sidewalk cracks
with red sand to engage passersby in conversation, the concept has grown. During our event, participants were asked to
create a mandala by filling in cracks between stones placed in a round dish.
Margaret Harle, member of the Labyrinth Committee, provided
background on the labyrinth and suggested people hold victims and survivors in
their prayers as they walked the labyrinth and to ask for wisdom to know what
we can do in our lives and communities to end human trafficking. Several pieces of artwork along with survivor
stories from the Red Sand Project were placed around the labyrinth.
Ceil Roeger, OP asked attendees to assist in creating the
closing prayer, by writing a line from their reflections. The prayer was started with one line. The next person was to add his/her reflection
and fold the line above under so that only his/her reflection was seen. Each person was to do so. The result was our prayer.
On Saturday, January 25, the community participated with
Fair Trade Houston in The Good Market to promote Fair Trade and Ethically Made
products at A 2nd Cup, a coffee shop in Houston whose proceeds go to
assist survivors of human trafficking. Sisters staffed a table with Equal
Exchange coffee, teas, and chocolates. We
informed consumers that purchasing fair trade products decreases the risk of
children becoming victims of human trafficking how fair trade supports small
farm coops earn a fair price for their crops, build strong communities, and help
preserve our planet.