For the last few years, the fall and October has meant planning for Walk for Freedom and leaning into the important conversations being had around human trafficking in our city, nation, and world.
After a lot of thought, prayer, and counsel — we’ve decided to not host Walk for Freedom this year. It was an awesome 6 years of partnering with A21 in this way. It opened up the door to some amazing relationships with local organizations who are doing the work right here — which has always been the goal. Of course, this is bittersweet — but it is far from the end of our engagement in this work.
For us, we know that the most integral way we are called to this fight for freedom is to come alongside and create fair employment opportunities that reduce vulnerability to trafficking, here and around the world. Good employment is critical in preventing vulnerability that can often lead to trafficking and good employment is vital for survivors. According to the Freedom Business Alliance, “80% of those rescued out of trafficking will be re-trafficked absent employment opportunities.” * Supporting artisan groups, social enterprises, businesses, and non-profits who are providing fair pay, safe working conditions, medical care and other benefits, and ultimately caring for people well matters — and that is our number one job.
As we lean into this invitation around the world, we believe we have been placed in Williamsburg, Virginia for a reason and we never want our passion for what is happening around the world to cause us to miss the needs in front of us. Human trafficking is not just a far-off thing, happening in some other country, state, or city. As we have been so privileged to hear the stories of survivors right here in Williamsburg, we cannot turn a blind eye to the need for increased awareness and prevention-based education. Moving forward, our number two goal as a company will be to support anti-trafficking, survivor-informed curriculum in the WJCC schools in partnership with FreeKind.
Lastly, like we mentioned — one of the beautiful things that came out of our six years of facilitating Walk for Freedom in Williamsburg was the relationships. One, with A21 — we are huge fans and so grateful for the way they educated, supported, and gave us the tools necessary to lean into this conversation. And, two — with our local non-profits who are leading the way in Williamsburg and on the peninsula. As they care for and seek to listen to the voice of local survivors, we see them as the experts in this and are privileged to learn, support, and come alongside. Our third and final goal is to offer opportunities for our community, to learn from the experts on the front-lines, with ways to fight for freedom, inviting each of us to live more compassionately and aware.
So, all that to say — to those who have been a part of Walk for Freedom the last few years, thank you. What an honor it was walking with you. I hope you will join us this year for what we have coming, because we are far from done. Also, to find a Walk for Freedom — go here.
And, to those who are here now, welcome. We are thrilled and so honored to walk with you this fall as we lean into this important conversation and grow together. Stay tuned for all the things — they’re coming.
For freedom, here and around the world.