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Why Volunteer? Help Survivors of Sex Trafficking

By | About HNP, Volunteer, Volunteer Spotlight | No Comments

Why Volunteer?

By: Elisabeth Mather, Volunteeer

I recall sitting in an auditorium back in 2014 and listening to Jessica Munoz speak about the urgent need for services to survivors of sex trafficking. After the talk, I timidly approached a volunteer sign-up table and said, “I can write. I don’t have anything on my resume that proves it, but I’d like to help.”

Since then, I’ve blogged, written grants, tabled events, and volunteered at several of the annual Pearl Galas.

In the midst of several jobs and graduate school.

Yet for many busy individuals like myself who invest our resources into Ho‘ola Na Pua, the answer to the question, “Why volunteer?” is simple—it lies squarely within the mission of the organization.

Help Survivors

As Ho‘ola Na Pua grows, volunteers continue to be drawn towards its visionary leadership in ending sex trafficking and its immediate impact upon local communities. Volunteer Licia Hill emphasizes that the organization “addresses a vital need in our community”; likewise, Genel Oganeku partners with Ho‘ola Na Pua, because it is “fighting FOR human value because every life matters.”

For Pamela Chun, volunteering with the Ho‘ola Na Pua is “a blessing because of the heart of the organization to bring awareness to the community about sex trafficking of minor girls in our State.”

Sex Trafficking Advocacy

Additionally, many volunteers are prompted by personal experience. Jasmine Baker joined Ho‘ola Na Pua after volunteering in the prison system and observing that women who experienced underage sex-trafficking “did not receive help but ended up in a cycle of drugs and petty crime.”

Towards that end, Ho‘ola Na Pua’s four-pronged approach of promoting health, education, advocacy, and reintegration provides services for affected youth, as well as preventative education and community advocacy. Retired San Jose Police Lieutenant Ernie King observes, “From my professional experience, I know that community education is a key component not only in educating the public, but possibly allowing victims to self-identify with what is happening in their or others’ lives as a criminal situation and then to reach out for help. As an Educational Advocate for Ho‘ola Na Pua, I have personally seen the positive impact our educational outreach has had in the schools.”

Sex Trafficking Education and Prevention

Similarly, Elizabeth Nohea Coleman—a Kamehameha Schools alumna and currently a student at  Dartmouth College who participated in Ho‘ola Na Pua’s public service announcements and its Educational Program Development Teen Review—says, “Teens need to be educated and need to know how to be protected. I hope my small part will have a large impact in helping Hawai’i’s teens to stay protected and safe.”

Individual Growth

As volunteers sacrifice their time and energy towards Ho‘ola Na Pua and the cause of ending sex trafficking, they often find rewards in unexpected places. Renee Perrington recounts her own experience: “All of the activities I participated in not only spread awareness of the issue of sex trafficking of minors, but they stretched and grew me as an individual. I found out that I was capable of more than I thought, that I did have a voice, that I could face the fear of public speaking and overcome it.”

Sense of Community

Ultimately, Ho‘ola Na Pua embodies the sense of ‘ohana that permeates our islands—we are one family and care deeply for each member of this closely knit community. With unrelenting compassion for Hawai‘i’s youth, combined with strategic, visionary planning, Ho‘ola Na Pua has empowered hundreds of volunteers like myself to shape the future of our local community. In joining with its mission, I have had the opportunity to use my unique gifts to advocate for and serve the needs of innumerable girls who have endured far beyond what any child should have to experience. Through volunteer opportunities provided by Ho’ola Na Pua, I have found a place to turn outrage over injustice and passion for social change into concrete action. As the organization continues to grow, I celebrate the progress produced by action with a community of like-minded people.

As Ho‘ola Na Pua intern Jade Pham observes, “Servanthood is proven to be a powerful tool for change.”

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Be Part of the Solution

Volunteers are the backbone of Hoʻōla Nā Pua and play an important role in our mission to provide a safe campus for underage female victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii. They are working professionals, parents, college and high school students, retirees, event organizers, fundraisers, and more. We have several volunteer opportunities and will have many more in the years to come, as we get closer to opening the home. If there isn’t something offered presently that is a good fit with your unique skills and interests, please follow our HNP Volunteer Facebook page to stay updated with our progress and any new volunteer opportunities.

Hoʻōla Nā Pua Sex Trafficking Prevention Education Milestones and Reach

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Sex Trafficking Education

We conduct multi-sector, community, active engagement, educational training to increase awareness of sex trafficking. Our objective is to provide safeguards for vulnerable persons and foster an interactive, multi-disciplinary, anti-trafficking community through outreach to neighborhoods, prevention program in schools, first-responders, service providers, lawmakers, faith based communities, and the population at large.

Age is the primary factor of vulnerability being used against the victims and the signs of being targeted are not immediately recognizable to an unsuspecting teen. Through education, we can teach our children to recognize the signs before they are caught up in a very dangerous cycle that is difficult to escape.

Education and Awareness are Key in the Prevention of Child Sex Trafficking

HNP conducts multi-sector, community, active engagement, educational training to increase awareness of sex trafficking. Our objective is to provide safeguards for vulnerable persons and foster an interactive, multi-disciplinary, anti-trafficking community through outreach to neighborhoods, prevention program in schools, first-responders, service providers, lawmakers, faith based communities, and the population at large.
Children and adolescents in today’s world face many challenges including the oversexualization of girls and overdependence on the internet and social media. These are factors that contribute to increased vulnerability of a youth being targeted, groomed, and victimized for commercial sexual exploitation. Prevention education can reduce risk factors by raising awareness of warning signs, red flags, and tactics used by traffickers to lure unsuspecting youth.

Individuals Reached Through Awareness Events and Education

The issue of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) must be addressed from a community perspective. HNP conducts presentations, sponsors events and participates in community events in collaboration with partners. Through these events, trainings, and community presentations, HNP reaches an average of 2500+ kids annually. HNP community awareness and advocacy messages reach thousands.

Formalizing the Prevention Education Program.

In 2017, HNP took its education program to a new level through the design and implementation of the Prevention Education Presentation v1.0. This presentation was designed for students and is adaptable to use for age ranges from middle school to college. Version 1.0 covers the following topics:
  • What is CSEC
  • Vulnerabilities, Risk Factors, and Warning Signs (Red Flags)
  • Protecting Yourself on Social Media
  • The link from Pornography to Sex Trafficking
  • Why it Happens in Hawai`i
  • Resources and How to Get Help

Recruiting a Teen Review Board

Popular (teen) opinion matters! It was important for HNP to hear the voices of pre-teens and teens throughout the process of building v1.0. Through the critique of a diverse teen review board (and some parents), HNP was able to design a presentation that delivered the message in a meaningful and age-appropriate way. In fact, the idea for the Student Resource Card came from the review board and is now given out to all students at all presentations.  In 2016, 2057 middle school to college aged students in 10 schools and in 2017, 1888 middle school to college aged students in ~19 schools or venues were reached.
donate to stop girls sex trafficking
First Student Review Board May 2017

 

donate to girls sex trafficking education
Middle School Prevention Education Program Presentation Dec 2017

Volunteer Education Advocates Training

Well trained and vetted volunteers are key to the sustainability of the education program. 28 dedicated volunteers on Oahu and Hawai`i Island have completed HNP’s training to become Education Advocates. These volunteers with a passion for education and the issue of CSEC undergo a vetting process and receive 18 hours of initial training followed by quarterly workshops.
Volunteer Education Advocates O`ahu June 2017

 

Community  Awareness Events

HNP has been raising awareness and increasing community involvement around the issue of underage sex trafficking through community awareness events, e.g., Human Trafficking Awareness Walk & Fair; Good Deeds Day; Make A Difference Day; educational presentations to youth, young adults and the community at large; Volunteer Orientation & Advocate Trainings (VOAT), Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Trainings, Train the Trainer as well as many community outreach events.
Human Trafficking Awareness Walk & Fair Jan 2017

Interns at HNP

Interns have made significant contributions to the work at HNP since 2016.HNP is grateful for all the wonderful students that have been a part of the HNP family from the following schools:
  • UH West O`ahu
  • Corban University
  • Biola University
  • Kamehameha Schools Kapili `Oihana Internship Program
  • Chapman University
  • University of North Georgia
  • UH Manoa
  • Kamehameha Schools Kapalama
These students were  from UH West O`ahu, Corban University as well as Biola University. In 2017 HNP partnered for the first time with Kamehameha Schools Kapili `Oihana Internship Program becoming a site host for student interns.

Teacher Feedback:

The Education Presentation on Sex Trafficking of Minors was highly effective at Dole Middle School.  The presentations allowed for a safe avenue for dialogue to take place on this subject. We were able to identify and red flag several students per grade level for increased monitoring in regards to this subject.  We were also able to use this as a jumping off point for discussions amongst staff and students on this subject. We hope that we continue to have a partnership with Ho’ola Na Pua to better service our community.
–Kara Nakashima
Dole Intermediate School
Department Chair Social Studies 

Volunteer Feedback:

As retired San Jose Police Lt assigned to Domestic Violence-Child Abuse-Threat Management Bureau of the Family Violence Unit, I was responsible in part for the community-educational outreach in collaboration with community based partners addressing these issues. This also included child exploitation. From my professional experience, I know that community education is a key component not only in educating the public, but possibly allowing victims to self-identify with what is happening in their or others’ lives as a criminal situation and then to reach out for help.
As an Educational Advocate for Ho’ola Na Pua, I have personally seen the positive impact our educational outreach has had in the schools. The response to our presentations has been overwhelmingly positive, with requests for additional presentations. The potential for community outreach and the expansion of the mission of Hoʻōla Nā Pua is limited only by the financial resources available to them.
– Ernie Kong, Volunteer Education Advocate

Be part of the solution! It’s with the dedication of our supporters that we are able to advance education, awareness, and action to provide restoration for children rescued from sexual exploitation. Whether you want to volunteer your time, voice, or resources, we’ve made it easy find a way to get involved with Hoʻōla Nā Pua.


You can help victims of sex trafficking. Donations to Hoʻōla Nā Pua support Health, Education, Advocacy and Reintegration, which includes our Starfish mentorship program and sustains ongoing operating and Pearl Haven site development costs. Our Federal ID number (EIN) is 46-5139164. Your gift may be 100% deductible from your taxable income.