In commemorating National Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Dominican Sisters of Houston, along with other members of Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, participated in activities during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Houston. On January 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we hosted, in collaboration with St. Luke’s Health, a Prayer and Labyrinth Walk in memory of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and human trafficking survivors. In a contemplative setting, participants were asked to walk the labyrinth and engage in other activities quietly.
Kimberly Williams from St. Luke’s Health explained the RED SAND PROJECT, which is a participatory action created by Molly Goodman that uses sidewalk interventions to create opportunities for people to question, connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation. While the original concept is to have people out in the streets filling in sidewalk cracks with red sand to engage passersby in conversation, the concept has grown. During our event, participants were asked to create a mandala by filling in cracks between stones placed in a round dish.
Margaret Harle, member of the Labyrinth Committee, provided background on the labyrinth and suggested people hold victims and survivors in their prayers as they walked the labyrinth and to ask for wisdom to know what we can do in our lives and communities to end human trafficking. Several pieces of artwork along with survivor stories from the Red Sand Project were placed around the labyrinth.
Ceil Roeger, OP asked attendees to assist in creating the closing prayer, by writing a line from their reflections. The prayer was started with one line. The next person was to add his/her reflection and fold the line above under so that only his/her reflection was seen. Each person was to do so. The result was our prayer.
On Saturday, January 25, the community participated with Fair Trade Houston in The Good Market to promote Fair Trade and Ethically Made products at A 2nd Cup, a coffee shop in Houston whose proceeds go to assist survivors of human trafficking. Sisters staffed a table with Equal Exchange coffee, teas, and chocolates. We informed consumers that purchasing fair trade products decreases the risk of children becoming victims of human trafficking how fair trade supports small farm coops earn a fair price for their crops, build strong communities, and help preserve our planet.