Circle of Care’s human trafficking program hosting outreach event

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 8, 2024

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The Circle of Care’s Renew Hope program is hosting a Fair Trade Coffee event on March 19 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET. The event will give out free coffee to those who stop by. It will be held at Refuge Point Church in West Point. 

Renew Hope is a program within the center that focuses on human trafficking in Chambers County and the surrounding areas. The program does everything from outreach like the coffee event to training for law enforcement across the state. 

“Information will be given out that day. The main thing is giving a free cup of coffee, but I’m trying to at least start the conversation with labor trafficking,” said Adrian Carpenter, 

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He adds that the first thing people think of with human trafficking is sex trafficking, which the organization also deals with. However, labor trafficking is increasingly an issue in the area.

“When we’re talking about it, we’re more likely to see it, if it’s more likely to be seen then it’s more like a little bit recorded. But we don’t even think about labor trafficking as a possibility… The same is true that if we’re not talking about it, then chances are we’re not seeing it and it’s less likely to be reported,” Carpenter explained. 

According to a Renew Hope flyer, labor trafficking is, “a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. 

“We look at work as almost a good thing which it is, but because we look at it that way sometimes we overlook the abuses of that,” Carpenter said. 

The event will serve fair trade coffee. Fair Trade is a certification that producers and traders of goods receive if they meet certain criteria. This ensures that the products have been made through fair practices, including the producers and farmers getting good wages, safe working conditions, and fair prices for their goods. 

Historically the coffee industry has been exploitative of the farmers who produce the coffee. While not all companies use fair trade certification, the mark of fair trade helps consumers know what they are consuming. The Renew Hope event will discuss some information on the coffee industry, but Carpenter said he wants the event to be a more informal conversation about labor exploitation and trafficking as a whole. 

Carpenter adds that our area has seen an increase in labor trafficking in past years due to the growing population of foreign nationals. Migrants, both sponsored and unsponsored, are vulnerable to exploitation. Many times those who have moved here legally must wait months for residency to be approved, meaning legal jobs are unavailable to them. Employers will sometimes coerce individuals by keeping identification documents or money. 

The Fair Trade coffee event will have program workers who can provide information on the ways to identify and report possible labor trafficking in the community.