The third stop on our tour brought us to Tampa, Florida, where we met with Ida Lopez, Project Director for World Relief Tampa.
Ms. Lopez and her team are devoted specifically to anti-trafficking efforts in the Tampa area. World Relief has been at work in this area since 1980, and since 2006 has been targeting trafficking. We were surprised at the gravity of the issue there and were pleased to hear that World Relief is a light of hope in the darkness.
- With 27 million people enslaved in the world today, 2.5 million of those live right here in the United States.
- Florida is one of the top three destinations for trafficking in the United States.
- Tampa is the number one destination for trafficking activity in the state of Florida.
A LIGHT OF HOPE
As these issues have recently come to light, a number of government agencies as well as NGOs have been working together to form a task force to help stop trafficking in Tampa.
One of World Relief’s main tasks is to be a first responder to trafficking raids. They provide a source of support for the victims, beginning with basic care packages that are put together by local volunteers.
World Relief continues to act as an advocate for the victims, providing them with a wide range of services, from taking them to the laundromat to helping them navigate legal proceedings with the police and lawyers.
FUNDING THE WAY
A large portion of World Relief’s funding comes from grants via the Department of Justice and other sources. They are required to raise about 25% of their funds, most of which come through in-kind donations from local service providers like doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals who donate their time and skills to serve these victims.
World Relief, along with professors from St. Petersburg College, offers training to many in the community to help others identify potential trafficking activity in local neighborhoods. They even offer training for local police departments to better get involved in their communities.
MUCH TO BE DONE
While World Relief has been active in the Tampa area for quite some time, their staff remains small, and the need remains great. They rely on volunteers to help with presentations, coordinating services for victims, and rallying local churches to come together and help with housing needs for the girls and preparation of care packages.
To learn more about World Relief in Tampa, or to learn how you can get involved, visit http://worldrelieftampa.org/anti-trafficking.