For All Seasons Brings Awareness to Human Trafficking Awareness Month

For the past four years, For All Seasons has been active in the Red Sand Project, a participatory art project created by artist and activist Molly Gochman that invites community members to question, connect, and act against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation. In 2024, the agency is expanding the project to engage the business community to be a part of the solution, specifically, to know what to look for and how to report suspected incidents of trafficking.

The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.

“A primary focus of For All Seasons’ Human Trafficking Program is to expand outreach and education on Human Trafficking to inform the community. For All Seasons’ Center for Learning is committed to leading the way in having a positive impact in this regard,” Susan Ahlstrom, Regional Human Trafficking Navigator, comments.

Recently, For All Seasons brought the Red Sand Project to the Packing House in Cambridge to highlight the complexity of the problem of Human Trafficking and build greater awareness in the business community and beyond. The educational event invited community partners such as law enforcement, social service agencies, educators, front-line workers, and community leaders to connect for greater collaboration in addressing the problem of Human Trafficking in the region. Participants poured red sand into cracks in the brick floor. The red sand represents the victims of human trafficking who have slipped through the cracks yet may still be hiding in plain sight. 

As a follow-up to this gathering, there will be a “Lunch and Learn” at the Packing House on February 7th, where business and community members are invited to come for a Human Trafficking 101 presentation to learn more about the challenges we face as a region. During January, proclamations were also presented by local government officials in Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties.

Last year, For All Seasons joined a statewide network of agencies working to respond to and prevent human trafficking under the Maryland Human Trafficking Regional Navigator Program. The agency’s Human Trafficking program offers support to survivors and their families and provides community outreach, awareness, and education. While many on the Eastern Shore believe that human trafficking is a distant issue, our region – and especially the Route 50 corridor – experiences a high volume of cases. Several of the known factors that increase the prevalence of human trafficking on the Eastern Shore include our rural communities, poverty, proximity to airports, large public events, and more. 

Additionally, with youth having increased access to the internet and smart devices, technology plays a big role in putting youth at risk for human trafficking. The overwhelming majority of human trafficking cases – 83% in 2020 – involved online solicitation. Knowing that online safety is key to prevention, this past year, For All Seasons provided regional schools with activities that helped children and families learn tools to keep kids safe from predators and potential trafficking situations.

According to Ahlstrom, For All Seasons will continue to highlight the vulnerabilities created by technology and the Internet and the risks that youth encounter regularly. In an upcoming program, For All Seasons will again collaborate with the Dorchester Center for the Arts to create an exhibit and activities highlighting technology, Internet safety, and its intersection with Human Trafficking. Future programming will invite the public to explore the question of “feeling safe in a technology-based world.” 

As for those in trafficking situations, Ahlstrom wants survivors to know, “We see them and we understand how complicated the problem of trafficking is and how scared they must be. We want to help them move forward in their lives.”

To learn more about For All Seasons Human Trafficking programs or to request information about trainings and presentations on Human Trafficking for your organization, visit WeSupportSurvivors.org. If your community organization would like to receive a packet of red sand and participate in the Red Sand Project, contact Susan Ahlstrom at sahlstrom@forallseasonsinc.org. For All Seasons will post community Red Sand images/videos throughout January and early February. 

For All Seasons provides the highest quality mental health and victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines, outreach, and community education. For information about For All Seasons walk-in hours, contact For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or visit ForAllSeasonsInc.org.