In March of 2020, Covid-19 abruptly changed everything about daily life in the United States. As the nation moved online overnight, abolitionists fighting modern-day slavery faced new, unexpected challenges and roadblocks. Rates of human trafficking rose drastically while access to services decreased, creating a need for innovate solutions to address rapidly evolving problems.
For years, Vanguard University’s Live2Free student club has worked to empower students to play an active role in recognizing the dignity of others, slowing consumer demand for slave-produced products, and aiding victims on their road to recovery. As traffickers exploited the global crisis for their own financial gain, Live2Free recognized the need to find creative avenues to promote continued awareness, education, and prevention.
A year into the pandemic, Live2Free has created opportunities at every season and stage to address human trafficking.
In July 2020, Live2Free led a virtual webinar addressing Online Safety During a Crisis. Guided by Live2Free Coach Ruthi Hanchett, four Live2Free college students presented about media literacy and body safety to help students safely navigate their new digital environments. Since the event was held online, Live2Free expanded its reach beyond Orange County, providing training to young adults and parents across the country.
In November of 2020, Live2Free transformed one of their annual signature events, the Fair-Trade Fashion Show, into a completely virtual experience. Live2Free’s Celebration of Fair-Trade Fashion included a social media challenge and a series of three webinars focusing on the fundamentals of fair trade, local fair-trade options, and how to shop fair trade on a budget. This fun, interactive event served to engage young people and provide practical steps to reduce consumer demand for slave-produced goods.
In February 2021, Live2Free partnered with Vanguard University’s Black Student Union to present a conversation on Sex Trafficking in the Black Community, featuring survivor advocate and U.S. Advisory Council member Kathy McGibbon Givens. This event highlighted the intersection of Black identity and vulnerability to exploitation, and it invited viewers to consider ways they can advocate for historically minoritized communities in the anti-trafficking space.
In Spring of 2021, a year after the onset of the global pandemic, Live2Free was honored to host an event at the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Virtual Forum. This event, “Girls Fighting Human Trafficking in the Time of Covid-19: How Youth are Leading in Peer-to-Peer Prevention,” focused on best practices for effective mentorship and advocacy regarding human trafficking.
While the onset of the pandemic presented obstacles, Live2Free exercised resilience and effectively pivoted to create opportunities to reach new audiences. Moving forward, Live2Free will continue to garner these new lessons and skills to combat human trafficking in the local Orange County community and across the globe.
To keep in-touch with Live2Free, follow @_live2free_ on Instagram.
For inquiries, reach out to L2F@vanguard.edu