Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Victims of Human Trafficking in Minnesota: How to Help

Around 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States every year, according to the United States government. "Trafficked" as in shipped as merchandise. It's not a nice business.

Some of the people who are "trafficked" end up here in Minnesota.

We've got quite a few options:
  1. Ignore them
    • They're just foreigners
  2. Ask, rhetorically, "why don't they go back where they came from?"
    • Then ignore them
  3. Help them
I think #3 makes sense. Particularly since the Catholic Church says it's the right thing to do.
"Christ died out of love for us, while we were still 'enemies.'100 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.101
"The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: 'charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'102"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (1825)
(June 18, 2010)
An outfit called Civil Society in St. Paul, Minnesota is a nonprofit organization that helps human trafficking victims.

They're looking for donations to help them put together "care packages" for the victims of human trafficking. The packages include:
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine toiletry products
  • Razors
  • Shaving cream
  • Encouragement letter/card
"Feminine toiletry products?" What can I say? Human trafficking isn't a very nice business: and quite a lot of their merchandise is women.

Who get stranded in what, to them, is a strange foreign country. They've got no money, no friends or relatives nearby, they don't speak the local language: they can use help.

Care Package? Big Deal

Actually, I think the care packages alone would be a fairly big deal, but there's more to the program. According to the official newspaper of the St. Paul - Minneapolis archdiocese, Civil Society or a related organization also provides:
  • Prayer support
  • Funding for
    • Shelter
    • Food
    • Legal services
    • English as a Second Language classes
    • Counseling and health services
The same article has a link - www.civilsocietyhelps.org - plus a phone number and an email address for folks who want to help.

I can imagine worse things to do with a few bucks.

Why Focus on Minnesota?

I live in a small town in central Minnesota.

The St. Paul - Minneapolis archdiocese newspaper doesn't go into this sort of detail: but my guess is that most of the victims of human trafficking are in or near what we call "the Metro." That's the urban area centered on Minneapolis and St. Paul. It's the biggest concentration of people in the state - and was known as a collection point for human trafficking several decades back. Looks like not much has changed, except that the victims now are incoming - and the faces are different.

There's more to the Twin Cities than an illicit slave trade, of course. They're also known as the home of the Guthrie Theater and the Minnesota Historical Society. And, to our credit, slavery is illegal in America - which doesn't stop those who traffic in human beings.

The Metro is just a couple hours' drive down the Interstate - and it's in my home state. Even if human trafficking was strictly limited to the Twin Cities, and I doubt that it is, it's happening in my state. Which makes it an issue I have to pay attention to.

Posts about neighbors and the poor:In the news:More:
A tip of the hat to catholicspirit, on Twitter, for the heads-up on their article.

2 comments:

Brigid said...

I can't help but wonder what people in Minnesota would do with slaves.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

There isn't much room, economically, for slavery these days - it's argued that the cotton gin would have crushed slavery in the Old South, if the Yankees hadn't butted in. But that's another matter.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.