HOWARD — A conference on human trafficking will explore how the $32 billion industry exploits some 29 million people worldwide, including adults and children in Wisconsin. The event will take place Jan. 16, 8 a.m. to noon, at St. John the Baptist Church, 2597 Glendale Ave.
The morning conference will begin with a welcome and introduction on human trafficking by Sr. Celine Goessl, a Sister of Mercy of the Holy Cross and event organizer.
“Pope Francis has asked us to help eliminate human trafficking by the year 2022,” she told The Compass in October. “I think as long as I have the energy, and as long as I feel that this is the will of God for me, I will continue to work in human trafficking.”
Theresa Flores, an author and human trafficking survivor, will share her experiences during a keynote address. Flores travels around the country sharing her story. While living in an upper-middle class suburb of Detroit at age 15, she was drugged, raped and tortured for two years and kept in bondage.
Due largely to the efforts of Flores, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation in 2014 that makes human trafficking punishable by imprisonment for life and permanently created a state Human Trafficking Commission.
Now a mother of three, Flores has made it her mission to educate others about human trafficking. Her website, www.traffickfree.com, offers more information.
The Jan. 16 conference will also include an address by Todd Patterson of Truckers Against Trafficking. The organization raises awareness among the nation’s truck drivers about human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, that may be witnessed at truck stops around the country. The group’s website, www.truckersagainst trafficking.org, provides more details.
Sgt. Gregory Tilly, a member of the Brown County Sheriff Department, will discuss human trafficking in northeastern Wisconsin and share what local law authorities are doing to prevent it. The day concludes with a closing prayer.
There is no charge for the event, but a free-will offering will be accepted, with all proceeds going to human trafficking prevention. Due to limited space, registration is required no later than Jan. 9.
To register, go to http://bit.ly/trafficking_event or email name, address and phone for each person registering to htawareness firstname.lastname@example.org. Students in grades seven to 12 are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult.
The event is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross, St. John Parish’s Social Concerns Committee, St. John’s Christian Mothers and the Knights of Columbus.