Slavery may seem like something that happened in the past, but for millions of people around the world — including here in the United States — it is a present-day reality. Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry that enslaves an average of 21 million people each year. Of these millions of victims, 81% are trapped in forced labor, in industries such as:
Although anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, children are particularly vulnerable. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in 2017, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those children, 88% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran away.
At Blackburn Center, we are committed to bringing attention to the issue of human trafficking — and to providing services to victims and survivors of this crime. This September, we are working with other members of the Westmoreland County Human Trafficking Task Force to display our annual Red Sand Project.
Created by artist Molly Gochman, the Red Sand Project is an art installation designed to raise awareness about human trafficking. Volunteers across the world place grains of red sand in the cracks of sidewalks. Each grain of sand represents one of the millions of victims of human trafficking who has slipped through the “cracks” of our society. We invite the entire community to show support for this cause by helping us place the red sand in five separate locations:
Westmoreland County Courthouse: September 7, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm
Twin Lakes Park Extension: September 7, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm
Westmoreland Hospital: September 9, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm
Latrobe Hospital: September 16: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm
Frick Hospital: September 23, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm
Join us at any (or all) of these locations to place sand, view the installation, and show support. You can also take pictures and post about it on social media using the hashtag #RedSandProjectWestmoreland.
Too often, victims of human trafficking are overlooked by the justice system, service providers and the community at large. The Red Sand Project is a visible way to show Westmoreland County that human trafficking will not be ignored — and that Blackburn Center is here to provide support to victims and survivors.