Human trafficking event set for Friday

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 4:53 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — An event to promote awareness of human trafficking is scheduled for Friday night.

"Human Trafficking: Ears and Eyes Wide Open" focuses on creative expression through performance and visual arts to emphasize freedom of expression, which modern slaves lack, said Deb Hume, co-chair of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. The goal is to use creative expression to promote awareness of human trafficking and celebrate and encourage freedom.

Entertainment will include hip-hop singer Nick Rodriguez, soul rappers Tyree and Jesca Byndom, storyteller Milbre Burch, the band Pop Fiction, singer Elise Brion, Jessie Adolph performing spoken word and the Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

There will be art displays by West Boulevard Elementary fifth-graders, children’s art from the St. Lazarus School in Nairobi, Kenya, a silent auction and a fashion showcase in which models will wear items from Mustard Seed Fair Trade and circulate through the crowd to explain their ensemble.

The event is free and open to the public. “We hope the community will come out and celebrate with us,” Hume said.

The event, sponsored by the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, Mustard Seed Fair Trade and Stop Traffic, will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at Sven’s Kafé and Gallery, 110 Orr St.

The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, one of the event’s sponsors, will also celebrate its first birthday. The coalition, which is made up of community members and organizations such as law enforcement and faith-based groups, began in April 2008 to maintain anti-trafficking efforts.

According to its mission statement, the organization exists to end forced labor and sexual exploitation. As part of ending modern slavery, the group encourages efforts to find invisible slaves, rescue visible captives and restore victims to their lives.

“One of our missions is outreach and raising awareness in the community,” Hume said.

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