Samantha Nieuwland was a typical eight-year-old ‑ carefree and innocently naïve.
But her worldview changed when Scott Forbes of International Justice Mission (IJM) spoke to her church about the issue of human trafficking.
As part of a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world, Forbes described work being done to rescue victims of violence and sexual abuse.
“I developed a passion from there,” says Nieuwland, now 24 and a member of the Sarnia-Lambton Committee Against the Trafficking of Women and Children.
“The part that really hit me was how they went in and rescued the girls. It sparked something in me.”
Nieuwland says she knew growing up she wanted to work with youth in some capacity, and will earn her BA in Social Work this spring from Brock University.
She joined the Sarnia-Lambton Committee Against the Trafficking of Women and Children to raise awareness about the issue.
“It exists in Canada. If you were vulnerable and couldn’t get out of a dangerous situation, wouldn’t you want help?”
The committee is hosting a human trafficking event May 8 in Sarnia featuring guest speakers, including Forbes, who will share the reality many women and children face daily around the world.
The IJM partners with local authorities in 20 places to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems to better protect the poor from slavery and sex trafficking.
Other committee members will speak, as will Sarnia’s Jorge de Guzman, member of the UNICEF Task Force on Abuse and Exploitation of Women and Children.
de Guzman was one of 10 finalists for CBC’s Champions of Change in 2011 for his work rescuing children from the sex trade in Southeast Asia, as well as teaching thousands of young girls self-defence techniques.
He will also provide some self-defence training at the May 8 event.
IF YOU GO:
WHO: Sarnia-Lambton Committee Against the Trafficking of Women and Children
WHAT: Human Trafficking: It’s Here, Let’s Shine a Light of Hope
WHERE: Temple Baptist Church, 1400 Quinn Dr.
WHEN: Friday, May 8, 6 p.m.
OTHER: $5 admission, refreshments provided, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org