Freedom Movement made great strides last week as the group celebrated End It Week Feb. 22 – 27, an effort created to inform college students on the cruelties of human trafficking.
“End It Week is our big event,” senior Public Relations major and co-vice president Andi Hale said. “It’s our main push for awareness and fundraising.”
The campus organization planned for a five-day crusade as a way to spread the message behind its actions, complete with guest speakers, a special documentary and a glow-in-the-dark dodge ball tournament while Freedom Movement wrapped up the work week with the worldwide event, “Shine A Light On Slavery Day.”
Each student sported a large red X across his or her hand to show support for the cause last Friday.
Freshman art education major Sam Shamard has seen first-hand the effects of human trafficking during a semester in Athens, Greece, last year. During her time abroad, she was exposed to the heartbreaking issue while working in the immigrant ministry, which sparked her desire to make a difference.
“It changes your perspective on so many things, knowing there are people all over the world not living in freedom,” Shamard said. “We are given freedom in Christ, and not only do these people not know this, but they are in physical bondage.”
Others, like Hale, heard about the growing problem of human trafficking through word-of-mouth. This eye-opening experience led to their involvement in order to equip others with the means to act on the information.
“I have an advocate’s heart and a passion for people,” Hale said. “Anytime I hear about injustices, it gets me worked up.”
Freedom Movement, inspired by a 2011 Passion conference in Atlanta, was brought to campus the following year by a group of students, which included the organization’s current president Nathan Gilmore and co-vice president Alec Loyd who were moved by realties and brokenness of human trafficking. The organization remains prominent at other college campuses around the United States.
While the efforts of Freedom Movement continue to grow, its endeavor is simply to provide support for similar nonprofits by raising funds and providing awareness.
“We didn’t want to compete with nonprofits already in place that have resources to effectively fight human trafficking,” Hale said.
As a result, the organization selects a local nonprofit to work directly alongside with for a period of time. This year, Freedom Movement tailored its efforts to assist Jesus Said Love, a Waco-based group passionate about building relationships with dancers and strip club employees.
Members of Freedom Movement invited a representative of the organization to speak with students last Thursday evening, where city team leader and university alumna, Lauren Rodriguez, introduced the expansion campaign known as Love I35.
“The overall goal of our organization is to awaken hope and empower change,” Rodriguez said. “I love getting to know these women and showing them Christ by meeting their needs.”
Jesus Said Love, which began only 11 years ago, has expanded to other areas of the state including Killeen, Bryan, Dallas and San Antonio.
Members of Freedom Movement encourage any interested students to attend any upcoming events or come to the Thursday night meetings at 6:30 p.m. in the Bawcom Student Union building.
“It’s absolutely vital to be educated,” Hale said, “so you can know where you can help.”