It's hard to believe that human trafficking could be happening right in our own backyard.
This startling fact was hammered home with a bang to many in the audience, at last month's discussion of the topic sponsored by the Press Club at Edison College.
Nola Theiss, director of the Human Trafficking Awareness group, here, punctuated her remarks with examples of distressing local situations that were eye-openers to many in the audience. She urged the group to be aware of this increasingly alarming problem that haunts transients and young female workers, and to call her agency with any suspicions or information.
More light was shed on the subject by Penny Rambacher, founder of Miracles in Action, Guatemala. Her non-profit organization is funding schools for the "dumpster children" she met in the villages of this country .So far, 27 schools have been funded and a priority is encouraging girls to attend school through the sixth grade.
A plus for meeting attendees was the group’s display of Guatemalan scarves, phone covers, wallets, purses and other handmade accessories she made available for purchase during the evening.
Christine Buckley related her experiences in Vietnam and other countries hunting down the white slavery "coyotes". Her book "Slave Hunters" is a depiction of her experiences with these poor enslaved women and children. She asked
the audience to get involved locally by requesting Publix supermarkets to honor the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
request that the retailer adopt a code of conduct including a zero tolerance on slavery; take a stand against inhumane conditions for tomato pickers; and pay an extra penny for every pound of tomatoes picked –bringing the average wage per picker from $10,000 to between $16,000 And $17,000 annually.
Janine Zellin, award winning Ft. Myers news reporter discussed her coverage of the recent multiple murder of a local Haitian family by their father.She pointed out that the wife and mother of this family was a victim of domestic abuse for many years and suffered with a husband who eventually snapped.
Donna Fiala, county commissioner ably moderated this timely discussion.