This summer, we were lucky to have Jake Hurd as an intern on N2 Publishing’s IT team. Little did we know, his girlfriend’s summer plans were much different than Jake’s, yet still much-aligned with N2 Publishing’s interests. Sarah Nash spent her break in San Jose, Costa Rica, as an intern for Lightforce International -- an organization that seeks to prevent and eradicate human trafficking.
Our team sat down to talk with Sarah about her time spent fighting Human Trafficking and how making a difference is possible.
Tell me about your passion for fighting human trafficking:
It was during my freshman year at Clemson University. I took a social psychology class, and our professor had us read a book called Half The Sky. It broke me in half. I couldn’t believe these brutalities were happening. I couldn’t ignore it.
The book continued to bother me and changed how I thought about the world. While heartbreaking, it was also cool to read about people who had started organizations in response to the violence against women.
That same semester, I ended up doing a bake sale to support a local organization based out of Greenville who fights human trafficking in upstate SC. We raised a couple hundred dollars. I also got involved in UNICEF which hosts an annual human trafficking awareness week.
Tell me about your summer. How did you choose Lighthouse International?
I knew I wanted to do some sort of mission work in another country, so I began to research different summer programs. The program I decided on had multiple location options, but going to Costa Rica combined my interests in Spanish, fighting human trafficking, and working with kids, so that’s what I decided. A missionary on the team is involved with LightForce, the anti-trafficking organization, so I got to work with them a lot through my connection with her.
Lightforce International is an incredible organization. They’re involved in a lot of different things, but primarily focused on prevention. Through after school programs in areas with kids in vulnerable living situations, Lightforce teaches kids English and provides Bible lessons. They also work with a local kids feeding program.
What’s one of your favorite memories from this summer?
One of the coolest stories from this summer involved the street outreach program.
On Saturday nights, Lightforce drives a van full of people to downtown street corners where prostitutes congregate (legally in Costa Rica). We pack the van with cookies, coffee, and tea, which we offer to the girls. . Two full-time staff members have coordinated this program for a couple of years now, so they’ve developed relationships with many girls. It was really neat to hear them ask personal questions like , “how is your family doing?” or, “how is your health issue?” And they were able to check in if someone was missing. They talk to the girls for a few minutes, then ask to pray with them. Praying with these girls in a huddle on the street while cars raced by was probably one of the more powerful things I’ve experienced.
Another cool story came from helping with an after-school program. I would often talk to the kids about what they wanted to be when they grew up. One teenage girl spoke English really well and told me about her plans to be a biochemical engineer. It hit me that programs like the Kid’s Club provide these kids with the opportunity to have a future, to find a career that they enjoy, and to be successful. Reducing vulnerability by providing a safe, encouraging environment for kids to learn and grow is a huge part of preventing trafficking.
Sarah, what do you want to do in the future? Do you think an element of fighting human trafficking will be involved?
Following many different people in different organizations while in Costa Rica was eye-opening in regards to the range of careers involved in the fight against human trafficking.
I definitely want to be involved in some way, specifically in prevention. I would love to provide a safe haven for kids who are vulnerable for being trafficked, where they can feel loved and safe. I feel very passionate about working with teenage girls to teach them about their worth.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in the fight against human trafficking?
I think educating yourself on the realities of the issue is an important first step. Everyone can be involved in spreading awareness, whether telling your friends or coworkers about what you’ve learned or connecting with an organization. And I think the more you learn, the more you will feel a desire to get involved.
Any skillset, any level of experience, any amount of time you can give is important. There are a lot of organizations who need volunteers, whether that’s with filing, accounting, counseling, event planning, or awareness.
There is a lot of need, and the only qualification you need is a willingness to get involved.