With the release of the film, Sound of Freedom, we have an opportunity to listen and learn of the very real horrors that impact children and families right here in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast. The movie sheds light on human trafficking - in particular, child sex trafficking. And while the scenes and setting focus largely on children from international locations, this issue is by no means exclusive to foreign lands. For several years, Catholic Charities has been working with partners in the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, the US Department of Justice, local law enforcement, areas victim services and other community partners to raise awareness of human trafficking, identify and provide support and services to victims of human trafficking, and to advance the prosecution of those who are responsible for these horrific crimes.
Our program, named after St. Bakhita - who herself was sold into slavery and servitude - works daily with men, women and children who have fallen victim to human trafficking - both sex and labor trafficking. Last year alone the agency served more than 65 individuals. For each trafficking victim we served, we have also supported their families - parents, children siblings, spouses - whose lives were broken because of the victimization of their loved ones.
The stories depicted in Sound of Freedom are stories we hear locally. The stories are dark, they are hard to witness, and in so many ways, they strike at the core of our beliefs that value the worth and dignity of all life. To be clear, human trafficking is a threat to the sanctity of life - regardless the age, the skin color, the nationality or the gender of the victim.
After watching the movie, many are disturbed and uncomfortable. We encourage you to channel that discomfort in two ways; prayer and action. Pray not only for those who are victims of this crime, but also for the strength and courage of those working to stop human trafficking. And pray too, for an understanding of how you can assist in responding locally. Then act. Your financial support, your willingness to help raise awareness, or even your willingness to roll up your sleeves and get involved with Catholic Charities or one of our community partners are important steps. We challenge those touched by the film to not be complacent, but be challenged to make a difference.
Click here to learn about our services to human trafficking victims
Click here to make a donation. You can specify your donation to go to the Bakhita Empowerment Program if you wish.
Click here to volunteer
Click here If you know someone who may be a victim of human trafficking
A Prayer to St. Bakhita
Oh, St. Bakhita, help those who a re trapped in slavery; intercede on their behalf before God so that they are freed from the chains of captivity. May God free anyone who has been trafficked by man. Provide relief to those who survived slavery or captivity and allow them to see Him as a model of faith and hope.