Human Trafficking Task Force Active In Community
The St. Augustine Prep Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in response to the compelling presentation by Somaly Mam on the effects of the sex trade industry on young girls, presented at the Prep last October, has been active in raising awareness of the issue in our local community.
On July 21, the task force made a presentation on their efforts to an international gathering of justice and peace animators gathered at a week-long conference titled Pursuing the Path of Justice and Peace Together at Villanova University. Students Austin Neri, Alec Williams, and Nick Brown, along with moderator Ms. Kathy Vermeeran, spoke about various projects, both locally and internationally, in which they have been involved during the past year. The presentation was well received and gave encouragement to the representatives that concrete action is being taken by high school students on this critical issue.
On Brotherhood Day on April 15, the group sponsored a school-wide walk which raised over $3,600. The proceeds, in the form of $900 donations, have been distributed to the following organizations: Atlantic County Women’s Center (Linwood, NJ); International Justice Mission (Washington, DC); Somaly Mam Foundation (New York, NY); and New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Trenton, NJ). Representatives from all Augustinian high schools in North America, assembled for the Student Augustinian Values Institute, participated in the walk and learned about how they can become involved in the issue at their own schools.
In addition, the group was invited to create a display for the New Jersey State Awareness Day of Human Trafficking in Trenton on January 7. They later participated in a workshop sponsored by Stockton College entitled Ugly Truths: The Reality of Human Trafficking in New Jersey, on May 19.
The task force works with the Prep’s Model U.N. Club in collaboration with the Augustinian-sponsored NGO at the United Nations. The special focus of the NGO at this time is on Human Trafficking. The members were featured in the Spring/Summer 2011 edition of The Augustinian, a magazine published by the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova.