OBERLIN, OH - On Sunday September 24, Oberlin students and community members came together at the Oberlin Public Library to attend an interactive workshop on anti human trafficking activism in Ohio.
The state of Ohio is number four in the country for human trafficking, behind California, New York, and Florida. Lorain County, the county in which Oberlin resides, has a very high rate of human trafficking, and in order to combat this issue, Oberlin College’s anti human trafficking club, Project Unbound, partnered with human trafficking educator Teresa Merriwether, to host a workshop with the purpose of educating the college and town communities.
With almost all the chairs filled, Merriwether led an engaging workshop that left the audience inspired to join the fight. She taught the crowd how to spot a trafficking victim when they are in public, such as at a hair parlor, what happens to the victim once they are in the trafficking life, and how the state of Ohio is working to fight this crime.
Governor Kasich has made it law for firefighters, police officers, and other public servants, along with cosmetologists and other professions, in the state of Ohio to be trained on how to identify both a victim of trafficking and a trafficker, as well as how to respond. Merriwether travels throughout the state of Ohio to help train these professionals and help survivors recover from the trauma of trafficking upon their extraction.
Merriwether and Project Unbound plan to maintain their partnership and work together to further educate the Oberlin and Lorain County community on the issue. Together, they are hoping to create a class at Oberlin College about human trafficking that would be open to both students and local residents. They also have major plans for events and fundraisers that are in the works for the spring semester; as for the rest of the fall semester, Project Unbound is hosting their annual fundraiser Voices Against Human Trafficking, with all the proceeds go to the Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County to help survivors, after the college’s fall break, and they working to host a couple more workshops, as well as a documentary screening to further spread awareness of the issue.
The club’s main purpose is to inform the local and college communities about the issue plaguing their home town and country, along with fundraising for survivors, and they have expressed major excitement about this partnership.