By Eli Hughes —

The University of Louisville held its first annual Human Trafficking Awareness Resource Fair  Jan 15. The event was held in the SAC ballroom and was organized by the program coordinator for the Women’s Center, Jamieca Jones.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so Jones organized the event to help bring attention to the situation. “I wanted to have this event, to of course bring awareness, but also to educate our students,” Jones said. “That way students are better equipped and prepared to really recognize if it’s real situation of not, and what they can do if they are bystander.”

The resource fair included booths from numerous organizations including the Refuge for Women, a non-profit that works to rehabilitate trafficked and sexually exploited women. The Refuge for Women provides a nine-month program that includes housing, weekly counseling sessions and job prep at no cost to the resident. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also had a booth at the resource fair. Marsha Gilmer-Tullis, the executive director of the family advocacy division, ran the booth. She is a graduate from U of L’s Kent School of Social work and was brought in by the women’s center to educate students, parents and professionals on the signs of child human trafficking and the ways to help keep children safe. 

According to Gilmer-Tullis, it’s important to educate college students on these issues so they are more aware when navigating the world in the future. “I know it’s a cliché,” Gilmer-Tullis said. “But knowledge really is power. And this is good knowledge to have, to know how you can even do your part.”

Jones hopes that the event can be an important resource for students who have been or possibly could be affected by human trafficking in the future, or who have friends that are in these situations. “By being equipped with these resources, these tools, and this information, they might be able to do something about it,” Jones said. 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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