Initiative Brings Awareness of Human Trafficking to Olympic Visitors

GIFT Box Project Hopes to Educate on Plight of the Exploited

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LONDON, England, AUG. 2, 2012 ( Christians from across the globe are using a new way to draw attention to British and foreign tourists of the tragedy and universality of human trafficking in London. 

STOP THE TRAFFIK and the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UNGIFT), have come up with the GIFT box project which seeks, like human trafficking, to entice people toward something beautiful only to find that once engaged the outcome is far from what was originally expected.

Five GIFT boxes are presently in circulation, each one measuring 3 meters by 3 meters (about 10 by 10 feet) and decoratively presented as huge gifts. Three will remain static throughout the Olympic Games at Westminster Abbey, Southwark Cathedral and St. Paul’s Cathedral, while two others will move to different locations around the capital for a number of days to reach as wide an audience as possible. 

Two years ago, Christian charity organization “More Than Gold» made human trafficking one of its primary social concerns in the context of the Olympics. It saw the Games as an opportunity to educate thousands of Britons and hundreds of thousands of foreigners visiting London for the Games about the types and magnitude of human trafficking in the hope that, having been enlightened, visitors in turn would return home and educate others.

“The world’s media is presently covered with images of athletes whose talents and bodies have received immense care, support and specialized attention,” said James Parker, the Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games and Chair of «More Than Gold’s» five social justice programs.

“The Christian community would be failing the Games as a whole, and failing the global family we seek to celebrate and draw together, if we did not draw serious attention to the plight of thousands of people whose talents and bodies are objectified and trafficked across the globe. This is not, as some might believe, someone else’s problem. It is everyone’s problem.”

Many of the volunteers staffing the boxes are themselves young Catholics. Catherine, a 19-year-old GIFT box volunteer from London, said that people who have seen the project have been shocked by what they saw. “They don’t think trafficking is happening in the West but presume it to be a third-world problem. We are collecting over a 100 signatures a day at the one box I help to staff from people who want to take action to create a world free of human trafficking,” she said. 

Another young volunteer, Jasmine, 21, said that many of those who have visited are not aware of how great the problem of human trafficking is. “No one seems to know about this, and they just don’t realize that it is happening in just about every locality,» she said. «Hopefully, these boxes are a step in the right direction to educating an entire generation about this horror.»

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