“My message is the only way to fight human trafficking is a network of communities working together to prevent it and stop human trafficking from existing. It’s been around for hundreds of years; we just keep renaming it. I think it’s time for everyone to realize slavery is slavery, and we need to do something to stop it.”
– Barry Jurgensen
Barry Jurgensen will be walking with a purpose as he takes his second 500-mile journey from Omaha to Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
This graduate of Dana College and history teacher will be taking the time to visit in the cities he passes through to spread awareness of human trafficking through Walk Forever Free 2017.
In fact, this is the second time in only two years that he’s doing this trek. Last year, he went from Nebraska City to Chicago, raising $27,000 for the nonprofit, anti-human trafficking organization, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. This organization has a focus in education within schools and their communities.
For this year’s effort, The Set Me Free Project, I Have A Name, the Coalition on Human Trafficking and the Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration Outreach have all partnered with Jurgensen.
(image source: enterprisepub.com)
This year, the Human Trafficking Initiative released a report revealing that the commercial sex trade had managed to spread statewide across Nebraska. About 900 people are sold as sex slaves monthly, according to the report.
Some of the cities Jurgensen stopped in were selected according to the information that was in the report. Many of the cities Jurgensen has chosen to walk through were prevalent in the study. He claims, “The most beneficial thing is to meet people. Then, they introduce you to other people.”
(image source: enterprisepub.com)
Students and Colleagues In the Cause
Amber Sims, an English educator, helped in organizing both of the treks. She says that this walk continues because the issue still exists.
“I know last year when he was in Chicago, we felt a great sense of accomplishment with everything we did and we have a lot to be proud of, but we both said we weren’t done,” She said. “I think today and the start of this walk is a testament to the fact that we’re not done and the work isn’t done and it won’t be done until slavery doesn’t exist anymore.”
“You can’t look elsewhere until you try and do something here,” She said.
Senior, Grace Volk, also shares Jurgensen’s passion in fighting human trafficking
“I don’t think a lot of people know it is even here, especially in Omaha, Lincoln and all those places along major highways,” she said. “I don’t think people know what a big problem it is. They think it is just overseas or in developing countries. I think it’s really nice to show people that it’s a problem here so we can help stop it.”
Ross Miller, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student and AHS grad, participated in 2016 and now walks with Jurgensen to Omaha.
“He’s been a great influence on my life,” Miller said. “What he does is awesome to spread awareness for human trafficking, and I just want to be a part of that.”
What can YOU Do?
Do you want to join a movement like this on behalf of O.U.R.?
Check out the O.U.R. Phoenix Rescue Run! You can also support the event outside of the Phoenix area by running wherever you are through a virtual sign-up to donate to the cause.
You don’t have to walk to spread awareness. SHARE this article.