I was working as an office administrator at a community minded church a few years ago and we learned, (through a women’s group wanting to use our facility for an event), about how human trafficking was happening in our community. We held a few informational events ourselves and formed a committee to study the issue and to figure out what we might be able to do to help. The first thing we did was put together a program to provide care bags for survivors of human trafficking, who often do not have anything of their own when they are supported into shelters. We gave these bags to the women’s organization and to the first responders who were working with trafficking survivors in the community. I was hesitant to get involved with the issue personally, because I knew it would break my heart to be near the stories of these women, and that my desire to help might take over my life. But one day I was standing in a store looking at towels and washcloths to find my contribution to add to one of our care bags, and I started to cry. I usually buy the cheapest towels for my home, because I don’t really care too much about them. But as I was looking at the quality of towels in the store, I was thinking about how this woman might feel, receiving a bag full of things that were just for her, knowing that it meant someone out there cared about her situation. And I had to find the prettiest color of towel to bring cheer to her heart, and the softest feeling towel to bring comfort to her ravaged body.
Eventually I listened to the calling in my heart to get involved and do something and the thing I wanted most to do was raise awareness about how human trafficking happens in our communities all around us, because so many people don’t know that it does. I created a display and gathered RCMP materials to hand out to inform people, and I found places to set up my table at local craft and trade shows. I absolutely love talking with people about the issue, and making sure that more people learn about the signs to look for and who to contact if they suspect human trafficking is taking place. I heard someone say once that if you see an injustice, you should shine a light on it until it feels so uncomfortable that it can not continue. I really feel that is what I am trying to do with my display. The only problem is, it can be expensive to pay for the table space for my display, and I don’t really have the money to go to the shows where it would have the greatest impact. So, I decided to use my rudimentary sewing skills to create some hand sewn bags that I could sell, to fundraise for the awareness raising enterprise. I visit second hand clothing stores to find small items of clothing made with pretty fabrics, and things with zippers that I can repurpose. I really enjoy the process of making the bags, and letting people know what I am doing it for. I had some successful bag sales in the last few years at craft shows in my area and I raised about half the funds needed to purchase table space for the awareness raising display at the 2019 National Women’s Show in Toronto where 30,000 people come in over a weekend. Others supported me to get the rest of what was needed, and with the help of some other ladies who work with trafficking victims, we set up our table, had good conversations with over 900 people and gave out literature to many more. About 75 percent of those we spoke with knew very little about human trafficking before our conversations. I am so proud that my little crafting enterprise helped make that happen!