Nefarious Movie Night in Sligo

Although we had put as much planning and preparation as we physically could into promoting this Movie Night, we waited with much uncertainty….Yes we had planned and prepared, invited and promoted, but we had not planned for the weather! I can only describe it as one of the hottest and most beautiful summer evenings we had experienced, here in Sligo, in a very long time.

Oh no! How was this going to effect the turn out. Most of Sligo had headed to the beach or to one of Sligo’s many beautiful scenic spots, where they could comfortably enjoy this fabulous weather.

But, as the doors opened, almost sixty people arrived to watch Nefarious. And, apart from one or two small technical hiccups, all went well

Described as an in-depth look into the Human Trafficking industry, it had promised to be an interesting evening and, possibly an eye opener, to anyone who wasn’t aware that this world of Modern Day Slavery even existed, much less happened in our own country.

And, yes, it really was a brilliant film. Telling the story of sex trafficking, from every perspective, it left us all without any doubt about the horrors and brutality of this hidden crime.

Afterwards, as we all left the room and came out into the lobby of the hotel, some people still had a look of utter disbelief in their eyes. Can this really be happening?

There were lots of conversations afterwards and we were able to answer one of The most asked questions of the night…’what can I do about this’. For us here at Invisible Traffick IRL, this was exactly what we had hoped would happen. One of our aims tonight was to create awareness of the existence of Modern Day Slavery and, having done this, let people know how they can get involved in making a difference. Explaining that there are so many things we can do, from something as simple as having conversations about the subject of human trafficking to actually getting involved in a more ‘hands on’ way.

Nefarious is billed as a ‘must see’ movie, and this is exactly how I would describe it. If you haven’t seen it, and get the chance to do so, I highly recommend you going.

The team of Invisible Traffick Sligo want to thank all who gave up their night to come and watch this film, and a big ‘thank you’ to Gayle and Marc, who travelled down in sweltering 30 degrees plus temperatures, to be with us.

 

Volunteer’s Recruitment and Team Building Day

On Saturday morning we had our very first Volunteer’s Recruitment and Team Building Day. The morning began with a cuppa & a scone. Then Invisible Traffick’s video ‘No Hope’ was screened (watch it below).

Our director then spoke a little about how Invisible Traffick all started 7 years ago. She had been to a conference where Christine Caine (founder of anti-huamn trafficking charity, A21) was speaking about how girls had been packaged up into boxes like cargo and were transported across sea and in cars to their destination. On route many of the girls died from oxygen starvation and the girls who did survive were sexually exploited across Europe. Our director couldn’t believe that this was still happening in our modern day world. She came back from the conference and bought a packet of mash potato for dinner one evening which actually contained a ticket saying ‘You’e won!’. That packet of mash potato led to the director winning £500!! The Director explained how she knew the money was not her own and she used to to set up Invisible Traffick.

CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL

It Tree

Being asked to be part of the Sligo Christmas Tree Festival seemed like a great idea.

It would be an opportunity to reach the vast crowds of people that would be attending the three-day event.

Two words came to mind as we thought about decorating and displaying a tree; challenge and opportunity

Challenge…how would we decorate the Christmas tree in such a way that the message of Human Trafficking, and the work Invisible Traffick does within the community, would come across visually?

Opportunity… this would be a chance to reach a wider audience. Hundreds of people, from every background would be at the festival. This was an opportunity we could not miss!

So we did it. On Wednesday afternoon we assembled the tree, ready to be viewed by the public when the Festival began on Friday 1st December.

Engaging the assistance of one of the youngest and most enthusiastic helpers Invisible Traffick IRL has ever seen, it was decorated and placed on display, with much excitement from said helper.

Beside the tree we placed a book-style story about Invisible Traffick’s work and why we chose to decorate the tree the way we did, as well as information leaflets. During the three day event many hundreds of people came to view the fifty-five trees on display. Here is the story below:

“The Story of Our Tree

Invisible Traffick is a Charity that works to create awareness about the existence and dangers of Human Trafficking. We emphasise the fact that Human Trafficking is not just a Global Crisis, but it is happening in Ireland and within our community.

Our Christmas tree uses our Name – Invisible Traffick and our Goal – Making the Invisible…Visible, to illustrate the fact that Human Trafficking is happening on our doorstep and is hidden in plain sight.

In the middle of the tree we have used six Human Trafficking images to show the grim reality of what could be happening behind a very ‘normal’ looking door, in a very ‘normal’ looking street. This is Modern Day Slavery and yes, it still exists. We placed these images in the middle of the tree to show that this injustice is happening right in the middle of our community.

We also wanted to focus on the true Christmas story.

To do this we have put three song lyrics at the top of the tree. We put these on the top as a reminder that this is where we should begin our story.

Light of the World

You stepped down into darkness

Opened my eyes, let me see.

This is the story we want our tree to tell.

Jesus, the Light of the World, came down to earth to bring light and hope into a dark world that had no hope. And for us involved in Invisible Traffick, one of the greatest dark and hopeless situations is the atrocity of Modern Day Slavery.

We have covered the bottom of the tree with seven bible verses, each of them speaking about Light; because we believe that God’s word has the power to pierce the darkness and bring light and hope to those who are trapped in Modern Day Slavery…. but God asks us to be His hands and His feet to bring that hope and healing. Putting these bible verses at the bottom reminds us that darkness will not have the final say…God and His word will.”

The atmosphere in the Cathedral was magical. The children’s faces were almost as bright as the trees they were looking at, as they excitedly walked in and out, and literally, around every single tree, making sure they missed nothing. This also meant the parents and grandparents missed nothing either!

Over the three days we had so many opportunities to talk with people we would probably not get the chance to speak to in a normal Invisible Traffick event or presentation.

It was amazing. People chatted and took the information leaflets, as well as giving us lots of praise for the way we had decorated the tree. We were delighted that our message, “Human Trafficking is happening within our community!” was clearly displayed.

The Tree really did tell the story; and we were on hand, as much as possible, to get the verbal message out there as well.

Today, as we dismantle the tree, there is a sense of sadness. Not because we are taking down the tree, but sadness at what that tree represents. It represents the truth that, within our community, there are many people being held by invisible chains, victims of Modern Day Slavery.

We are grateful for the opportunity this Festival gave us to create awareness and speak about the issue of Human Trafficking. And who knows what ripple effect this small group of people may have made, when they decided to decorate a Christmas Tree.

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HUMAN TRAFFICKING – THE TERRIBLE TRUTH

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When our IT Ireland director is doing workshops in schools, she encourages students to think about writing a blog for our website.

Below is one sent from a student from St. Attractas Community School in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo. Her name is Mia Thomas.

‘Although I was aware that human trafficking was an issue in the world, I did not realise the sheer scale of this epidemic. As a result of the talk given by Mary, Jamie and Becky, I have become much more aware and understand just how serious the situation has become.

Mary explained that there are about 21 million victims of human trafficking in the world today, where one person is worth €70. This caused me to feel nauseous with anger and disgust. How could anyone have a right to put a price to another being? As if they were property, not human beings with feelings and most importantly, rights. How could anyone have a right to undermine others and claim that they were superior to them?

During the talk, Mary told us how in every 30 seconds, one person somewhere in the world was being trafficked. We went on to calculate that in just one school day, almost 1000 people were being trafficked somewhere in the world.

I never knew that human trafficking was taking place at such an enormous scale. Having listened to the presentation, I feel motivated to act against human trafficking once and for all. This behaviour is unacceptable and must be abolished if we want to live in a world that is perhaps safe and allows people to live without fear.

Thank you, Mary for the inspirational talk. I honestly have been moved by this and I hope our efforts will one day be enough to see the back of human trafficking!’

INVISIBLE TRAFFICK IRELAND AWARENESS RAISING EVENT

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On Thursday the 19th October at 10am Invisible Traffick Ireland held an Awareness Raising Event in Sligo Town Hall. This event was to celebrate their two year anniversary and coincided with Human Trafficking Awareness Week 2017.

Mary McSharry (IT IRL Director) kicked off the event explaining a little about her work with IT in Sligo. She explained that the main role of IT IRL is to raise awareness and get the public engaging in the issue of human trafficking.

Next, the IT GB Director spoke about her work across the water. She explained that lots of other charities in Great Britian do lots of awareness raising and instead felt what was missing was long term after care for survivors of human trafficking. She then spoke about her work in Tamar House, a safe house set up by IT GB for female survivors of sexual exploitation.

Alison was followed by Edward Keegan (Anti-Trafficking Project Officer for Immigrant Council of Ireland) who spoke about his work in Dublin. He explained the legislation in place in order to keep human trafficking survivors safe by helping them remain in Ireland, and how they ensure survivors are provided with adequate housing.

There was then a question and answer panel including Edward Keegan, Paul Molly (Detective Inspector Garda, Anti-Human Trafficking Unit) and Simeone Barnett (Justice Department Anti Human Trafficking Unit) who answered questions from the audience.

The event was closed by Sligo Mayor who highlighted everyone’s responsibility to fight the issue of human trafficking, whether that is by teaching our children about respect for women, or simply informing others that human trafficking still exists.

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DON’T FORGET THE BOYS…

It Irl Blog

When thinking about human trafficking we often allow our minds to run straight to the young girls sold into “a better life” only to find themselves sold into a life of prostitution, violence and loneliness scenario. This is obviously a huge part of the area that we seek to bring justice too through the efforts of Invisible Traffick. However, I have recently been thinking about it from a very different standpoint…

The men…

The boys…

Not the taken but the takers…

You may find these people a horrific group to spend time thinking about but hear me out… I find it hard to believe that as these traffickers grew up, in whatever circumstances they found themselves, they dreamt of becoming a slave traders. Most of us answer wit,: teacher, mechanic, fireman, as we answered the teachers question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I don’t ever remember hearing slave trader in the classroom.

It got me thinking to my own boys… Indeed it is important to make people aware of the signs to look out for but also it is important for us to raise up young men, and women who are honest, just and respectable people in their community. It is about raising men who are gentlemen, who know the true value of a woman, of a young girl and who through no action de-value her.

It is about raising young men, who are content with what they have, never striving for too much in terms of money, power or status – but being content with what they have and using it wisely. I fear the role of slave trader does not come from a childhood fantasy growing up, but rather from a desire for power and money that gets out of control… and can only be fulfilled through the horrific injustice of using other people in inhuman ways. It is simply a lack of respect for others and their value as humans, which has been overshadowed by a deep greed and lust for power.

Indeed we need to make people aware of the signs to look out for, but equally, we need to train up our young men and young women to value people, respect one another and be content with their materialistic situation.

TRANSITION YEAR

Transition Year Blog

Invisible Traffick IRL are committed to teaching young people on topics, such as the of the signs of human trafficking and how to protect yourself from the possible dangers.  We are convinced that a workshop aimed at 15/16yrs would work well.

Transition Year (TY) is a programme designed to give ‘teens’ the opportunity to learn new skills, while gaining both life and work experience. It is a one year programme that promotes social, vocational and educational development for students during their 4th year of secondary school.

This week we contacted all the Post Primary schools in our area and offered to deliver a human trafficking workshop.  We are excited to say that, just a few hours later, we received our first phone call from one of the schools, inviting us to come along! As I spoke with the Principal, I was thrilled with his positive response.

He asked about Invisible Traffick, and the work we do. I was able to explain our aims and objectives, alongside the benefits that we would hope to accomplished through the workshop. Within minutes we had decided on a suitable date and divided the large group into four workshops, each with their own timeslot.

As part of the presentation we will be providing information on current facts and statistics about human trafficking.  The real ‘fact’ is by going into schools we are getting the opportunity to, quite possibly, help stop someone becoming one of those ‘statistics’.  We therefore believe and hope that these workshops will play an important role in the young people’s lives.

We are also excited to have the opportunity to ‘shed light’ to one of the most hidden injustices in our society, and to help make the invisible….visible.

If you know of a school or youth group that you believe would benefit from our worshop please get in contact via mary@invisibletraffick.org

FLIGHT ATTENDANT ‘SAVES TRAFFICKING VICTIM WITH SECRET NOTE’

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A flight attendant has described the moment that she saved a young girl from human traffickers after leaving a secret note for her on the plane.

Sheila Fedrick said that her suspicions were roused after she spotted a well-dressed middle aged man travelling with a battered young girl aged around 15 who “looked like she had been through pure hell”.

After trying to speak to the pair and being rebuffed by the man, she left a note for the girl in one of the plane’s toilets.

In reply the girl wrote: “I need help”, she told NBC News.

Ms Fedrick said she immediately informed the pilot about the situation and the flight was met by police at their arrival destination.

She shared her story as part of a training programme run by US non-profit group Airline Ambassadors aimed at helping flight staff to spot human traffickers.

Millions of people are thought to be trafficked every year – including many who are transported on flights.

The AA group has trained thousands of staff in a number of countries to recognise the signs that someone may be being taken against their will.