Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One SUPER Weekend

11:45 PM

Tampa Bay was invaded a few weeks ago, by crazy, loud, noisy football fans. That's right, Super Bowl was in town! And as much as I was looking forward to that event [ok, not really, I don't like sports], I had something else even more exciting going on that weekend.

I was able to volunteer with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking in an effort to raise awareness about domestic minor sex trafficking going on right here in the U.S. and more specifically, right here in Tampa Bay.

FCAHT and Brad Dennis from KlaasKids, teamed up to educate the entertainment, restaurant, and hospitality industries in Tampa Bay about this serious crime plaguing our city. With the influx of tourists and the party atmosphere that accompanies the Super Bowl, we were keeping our eyes open for anything suspicious and out of the ordinary. Brad gave us flyers of missing girls, each gone missing in the Tampa area within the last month and under the age of 18. 2100 children go missing every day in the U.S. and 1/3 of those children are approached by pimps within the first 48 hours. It's essential to get their photos out into the community to avoid the risk of the victims being trafficked.

So Friday afternoon we took to the streets of downtown Tampa. We covered from Ybor City to Dale Mabry to International Mall. My team was responsible for walking Dale Mabry right past the stadium. We visited several businesses, most of whom were very receptive to our information. A few however were not. We were actually thrown out of a Sonny's BBQ! It may have had something to do with an MSNBC cameraman with us, but still, the manager didn't even want to hear what we had to say. But overall, the experience was successful. Several tips were reported, and further surveillance was done later that night.

Saturday afternoon, we moved over to Pinellas County and my team had the well-traveled area of Rocky Point and across Gulf-to-Bay. There was mostly hotels on that route, so we spent even more time educating front desk managers and staff by leaving flyers, posters, and indicator cards for their disposal. Saturday was really hot for activity, and one of the missing girls we were looking for had been identified several times. Unfortunately, she has not been located yet, but we do know she is still in the area and even more people are looking out for her.

Overall, the weekend was a success! Any chance there is to educate and raise awareness about the global crime of human trafficking is a win in my book. And as an added bonus, I was able to see “Taken” that weekend, which highlights the perils of a sex trafficking. More and more people are seeing this crime for what it really is and I believe change is going to come. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!


CR said...

Great work, Joy! I'll have to add Taken to my Netflix, it looks like an interesting movie.