A21 Campaign aims to strengthen every aspect of international anti-trafficking efforts so that it can see slavery abolished in the 21st century. In fact, the A21 Campaign is one of the only few international organizations addressing the human trafficking problem in Europe. A21 has 12 offices in 11 different countries. All of their offices are stopping human trafficking before it starts, seven of them focus on fierce intervention and six of them provide restorative aftercare.
The heart cry of the organization is to reach, rescue and to restore lives. Christine and her husband Nick Caine are the founders of the A21 Campaign. Christine is also an evangelist, author and an international speaker.
Here is the A21 website: http://www.a21.org/
A21 Freedom Walk 2017
On Saturday October 14, 2017, it was A21’s fourth annual freedom walk that they had organized which was an international worldwide event to help spread the awareness of the injustice issue of human trafficking. There were tens of thousands of people across the globe that joined together from 600 cities and 50 different countries which included Toronto, Kiev, London, Singapore, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Sydney, Bangkok, Jerusalem, Oslo, etc. Walk for freedom really is amazing and it is very impactful because it changes lives. It focuses on awareness, education, prevention and fundraising.
Everyone who took a stand to join together to abolish slavery in A21’s annual walk for freedom all wore either black or black T-shirts that had written on them “Abolish Slavery With Each Step” on the front and A21 Walk for Freedom on the back. We also all had yellow bandanas over our mouths that had written on the front of them one of the three names – Amy, Eve or Ivan and on the back it was written the word free. When we truly take the time to look into the injustice issue of human trafficking sometimes the statistics and the numbers can seem overwhelming to us so A21 decided for their fourth annual walk to make it personal. These three names represent very real human lives – Amy is a girl from the United States, Eve is a young girl from Thailand and Ivan is a man from Ukraine. Three real stories of people, who were victimized, were rescued and restored.
While we walked we all listened to a podcast with detailed stories of these three individual people which really made the stories real of the people that we walked for. “It is to have a heart for the one. It is for the one man, the one woman and the one child who is set free. It is really important to value the one person who is trapped in human trafficking and it is just as important to value the one person who is walking for freedom as well. There are millions of slaves today but each one represents a very real human life. We wore the bandanas to remind us that we walked for the freedom of human beings and to walk to see people escape from bondage.” – This was from the podcast
“The walk is done in a single file because we believe in placing value on the one person. With every step that we took on the day of the freedom walk we are making a difference, we are taking a stand, we are walking for freedom. There is so much power in gathering together, in showing up in force and saying there are more of us that are against it than there are for it.” – This was from the podcast
“It’s one thing to experience hardship and poverty. It’s another to have your freedom and dignity ripped away from you. How devastating it would be to be offered hope, only to have that hope cruelly crushed…” – Christine Caine
“We are all walking for one thing, we are the new abolitionists, we have showed up, we are walking for freedom, we are convinced that if we do this together, if we keep showing up, if we continue to be tenacious, if we continue to have grit, if we continue to not bow down to discouragement but we turn up with strength, with numbers, with courage, with faith, then we can see slavery eradicated in our life time.” – Christine Caine shared this in the podcast
“This is our walk for freedom. It is a walk for justice and human dignity. It is a walk for hope and for restoration. A world without slavery is possible. While human trafficking is destroying lives. We know that freedom will have the final word. One step at a time we will see more people reached, one step at a time we will see more victims rescued, one step at a time we will see more survivors restored. Slavery still exists but we will abolish it everywhere forever.” – This was from the podcast
If you like to listen to the podcast here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxumnkOMolU&t=12s
My personal experience of the walk and how it had impacted me:
In the fall of 2016, I went to the YWAM LA base to do a three month leadership training school. At the beginning of the school my class split into groups and we did a fun scavenger hunt around the city of Los Angeles. That afternoon when I was in LA I saw signs up in one of the areas we were in that written on them “A21 Freedom Walk in LA on Saturday October 15th”. When I saw the signs I didn’t think much of it but then I realized a bit later that they were for telling people about the Freedom Walk that A21 Campaign does but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go because I had other plans since it was on the day of my birthday. Later that day the walk was on I talked to one of the DTS (Discipleship Training School) students from the Justice DTS class. She told me how amazing the walk was to be able to join in with people to help spread awareness of the injustice issue of human trafficking and Christine Caine even spoke there as well.
I am very thankful that I receive updates and newsletters by e-mail of what God is doing with A21. At the end of August I got one of A21 newsletters and it was at that time they shared about the Freedom Walk 2017 they will be doing again which was on Saturday October 14, 2017. When I got the e-mail about the Freedom Walk I was extremely excited because I knew that I wanted to take part in it this time. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t take part in the A21 Freedom Walk the previous year so I definitely didn’t want to miss it this time for 2017 and take part in the walk in Toronto.
I ordered an action kit from the A21 Campaign which included a T-shirt, though unfortunately it was too big for me but thankfully I was able to exchange it for a small size when I got to Toronto where we met for the walk. I also got a water bottle, a yellow bandana with the name Ivan on it so I walked for him and a couple of other things. I wasn’t sure if my action kit would arrive on time for the walk but thankfully it came the day before the event. Early in the morning on Saturday October 14th, I took the GO train from Whitby to the Union station which is downtown Toronto and then I took the subway to the Ramsden Park.
When I arrived at the Ramsden Park I was extremely excited and just bubbling over with so much joy for this amazing opportunity that God had given me to be a part of that morning. I arrived at 9:00am and it was at that time that everyone started to gather for the Freedom Walk. I didn’t really know what to expect because it was my first time doing the walk but I can honestly say that it definitely was very impactful and a bit overwhelming at the same time of how in this short time how life changing it was for me. At the park there was a long table with T-shirts, bandanas with the three different names we walked for (Eve, Amy and Ivan) and a place to register if people didn’t already register.
There were also signs that were available for people to carry throughout the line when we did the walk that were held up had written on them: “Slavery Still Exists”, “Abolish Slavery Everywhere Forever”, “99% of Victims Are Never Rescued”, “1% of Victims Are Ever Rescued”, “Every 30 Seconds Someone Becomes a Slave”, “There Are Millions of
Slaves in the World Today.’ I believe these signs were extremely helpful to spread more awareness to people of why we did the walk on this day. We also had flyers that we handed out which explained more about human trafficking and some of the statistics but unfortunately we quickly ran out of the flyers.
It was a real blessing from God that my friend Vanessa was able to come and join me when we did the walk. It was really nice to know someone to do it together but I also met other people as well and I ended up talking to three girls while I waited for people to arrive for the event to start.
I am very thankful for everyone who organized the A21 Freedom Walk in Toronto because I think they all did such an incredible job. Jeff and Mika Pike organized it along with their church in Toronto. There were around 120 people that came out for the walk in Toronto which was such an amazing turn out to see so many people express interest in standing up and spreading more awareness of the injustice issue of human trafficking.
Jeff gathered us all together before we left for the walk to share with us more about A21, a bit about human trafficking and how we were going to do the walk. We were also blessed to hear from Timea Nagy who came to share her personal story from her own life experience. Timea is originally from Hungary but now she is living in Canada. She is a human trafficking survivor, author and social advocate who immigrated to Canada in 1998. Timea challenged us to tell two more people about human trafficking and the effect it is having in our community and globe.
We walked throughout the downtown area of Toronto and it took around a couple of hours. We walked in a single file and we did not talk the whole time but we walked in silence. In the past I have done prayer walks in different cities when I lived overseas but this was my very first time doing a walk like this especially to not talk to anyone the entire time. I am really glad that A21 put together a podcast for the Freedom Walk because when I listened to it, it was quite eye opening and it made the walk a lot more personal as well especially to hear three people’s stories who are survivors in three different countries and to hear how God has restored their lives.
When I did the walk it felt kind of strange to not to talk to anyone and to have a yellow bandana over my mouth which also prevented me from talking to anyone as well. I did hand out some flyers to some people but once I ran out I just continued to walk without any kind of interaction with anyone who saw us do the walk. I noticed there were some people who had a negative reaction to us doing the walk and then there were other people who very supportive of us to see us spread more awareness of the injustice issue of human trafficking. I honestly wonder how many people know about human trafficking in how it is affecting our world today and even right here in Canada where we live. I decided to do a bit of research to learn more about it myself of what is happening in Canada right in my home country so I included some facts and statistics in this blog if you are interested in finding more about it as well.
Now that I take a bit of time to reflect back and think about my short experience I had when I had the yellow bandana over my mouth during the walk it helped to give me a new perspective of how victims of human trafficking feel. Thousands of children, teenagers and adults all across this world who are caught, held captive and in slavery of the injustice of human trafficking all feel like they do not have a voice, they are voiceless because they are probably living in fear of speaking out to reach out for help. Wearing a bandana over my mouth I felt like I didn’t have any freedom to speak out even if I wanted to which is probably how many people feel like their voice is not worthy to be heard.
I believe victims of human trafficking are actually screaming, crying out and begging for people’s help but I think their voice feels like it is trapped to actually speak out to reach out for help. This is why we put bandanas over our mouths to show people they are voiceless but we can be their voice by speaking out to spread awareness of this injustice issue and to reach out to those who are hurting.
I can honestly say when we ended our walk it was like a relief and so liberating when we moved our bandanas off of our mouths and turn them over to show the word free on it, it was such a freeing moment for me and for all of us. It is exciting to know that the three people we walked for are all free now and are living a life of freedom and victory. It is the deepest desire of my heart to see everyone set free and liberated from the injustice issue of human trafficking. It says in the Bible in Isaiah 61:1 that Jesus came to set the captives free and He has called us to proclaim freedom to those who are held captive and to see them released from this spiritual darkness and prison they are in.
When the walk was over we all gathered together for a group picture with smiles on all
of our faces knowing that with Christ there is freedom and it is truly possible to see human trafficking abolish everywhere forever. We walked for the voiceless. We walked for the nameless. We walked for the faceless. We walked for the one.
Human life does not have a price tag. We are not commodities and we are here to say it is not okay. We are priceless and valued in God’s eyes and we are His beloved sons and daughters. What an incredible opportunity to spread more awareness of the injustice issue of human trafficking and it was really great to join in with thousands of people around the globe the exact same day to do the walk as well.
So, let’s pray for God to release freedom and liberty to those who are held captive, who are held in slavery and are held in bondage. Let’s pray for God to bring healing and restoration to those who are wounded, broken and hurting. Let’s pray for God to give courage to those who are vulnerable and feel like they do not have a voice to reach out for help. Let’s pray and ask God for courage and boldness for ourselves to be a voice for the voiceless and to be His instruments of hope to those who feel they don’t have any hope. Let’s pray for human trafficking to be abolished everywhere and forever.
Promotional video for the Freedom Walk 2017
Re-cap video for the Freedom Walk 2017
Here are some of the statistics and facts in Canada on human trafficking:
- Canada is ranked in the top 3 countries that consume material containing cybersex trafficking.
- Over ½ of trafficking cases in Canada are withdrawn before the proceeding of court cases.
- In Canada, victims typically earn their traffickers between $500 and $1,000 a day.
- The majority of victims are forced to provide sexual services between 10 and 14 hours per day, but many are obligated to be accessible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and are rarely provided with any time off.
- 25% of Canada’s human trafficking victims are minors and nearly 50% of victims are in the age range between 18 – 25 years old.
- 12 -14 years of age are very common when young girls are forced into the sex trade.
- More than 90% of the victims of sex trafficking within Canada come from Canada.
- 60% of all reported human trafficking cases in Canada occur in the densely populated Greater Toronto Area.
- Canada isn’t doing a very good job of monitoring labor trafficking. A couple of examples are nannies and seasonal agricultural workers.
- Those who are likely to be at risk include people who are socially or economically disadvantaged such as Aboriginal women, youth and children, migrants and new immigrants, teenage runaways, children who are in protection, as well as girls and women, who may be lured to large urban centres or move or migrate there voluntarily. Young women are sometimes recruited by younger male members of street gangs who use the promise of affection as a tool to recruit them.
- Non-Canadian victims are often brought to Canada from countries in Asia, notably Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as countries in Eastern Europe.
- Labour trafficking is very high in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario. They are both male and female and they are from different countries including the Philippines, India, Poland, China, Ethiopia, Mexico, Thailand and Hungary. Foreign victims are usually trafficked in the country alone without any family or any kind of a support system, there are often language barriers and they are also skeptical of the police.
News articles to check out:
International Justice Mission Canada Urges Canadians to Join the Fight Against Cybersex Trafficking of Children Nationwide Campaign ‘Not on my Screen’
Trafficking in person in Canada, 2014
RCMP, Domestic Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Canada
Domestic Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Canada
25% of Canada’s human trafficking victims are minors
The reality of sex trafficking in Toronto
‘Anyone can be a victim’: Canadian high school girls being lured into sex trade
National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
A Report on Assessment of Sex Trafficking:
I’d like to leave you with a few quotes:
“Slavery is often talked about in numbers. Millions of slaves–1% rescued–a 150 billion dollar industry. But we see the one and fight for the one and sacrifice to restore the one. We won’t stop until every single one is free.” – A21 Campaign
“Once this generation goes from Apathy to action, we will see human trafficking end in our lifetime.” – A21 Campaign
“We are convinced that if we do this together, if we keep showing up, if we continue to be tenacious, if we continue to have grit, if we continue to not bow down to discouragement… but we turn up with strength, numbers, courage, and with faith, then we can see slavery eradicated in our lifetime.” – Christine Caine
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” – William Wilberfore
“I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller