By: Kathy Stokes
Have you ever attended an event that changed your life? That’s what happened to Kathy Stokes of Jacksonville, NC eight years ago when she and her husband, Fritz, volunteered as chaperones for their church’s youth group trip for a “Forward Conference” in Duluth, Georgia. One of the main guest speakers was Christine Caine, the founder of A21.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking. After hearing Christine’s presentation, Kathy made a firm commitment to get involved. She contacted A21 and began what has now become a seven-year association by volunteering as a local host in her community, for the annual Walk For Freedom, a global event designed to bring awareness about human trafficking.
Since its beginnings fifteen years ago, A21.org has grown in both size and scope through their multifaceted, global operations to “Reach, Rescue, & Restore” victims of human trafficking. Currently working in 14 different countries, the A21.org volunteers and staff members have made a notable difference by providing numerous programs and tangible support to victims. To start with, the “Reach” component brings awareness of the plight of modern-day slavery to communities at all levels, with presentations for groups of all sizes (like the one Kathy attended) and curriculum for both young and older school-age students, as well as free training seminars for any individuals likely to encounter potential victims of trafficking. Additionally, A21 coordinates with host volunteers across the globe to hold a public event, the annual “Walk For Freedom”, in which volunteers hold posters as they walk in a single-file line in cities all across the world. For the sake of brevity, A21’s admirable “Rescue” and “Restore” efforts are outlined in great detail on the group’s website (www.a21.org).
A famous quote by Edmond Burke, states “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing” is as true now as it was when it was first uttered. What is also true is that anyone can take a stand and make a difference. Both Kathy & Fritz Stokes are standing up to make their city of Jacksonville, North Carolina increasingly aware and involved in the fight against human trafficking. They invite others to do the same, for there is strength in numbers as we rally around the A21 motto, “Abolish Slavery Everywhere, Forever”.