HOLLAND, mich — A trucking company in West Michigan is hoping to raise awareness and help people spot human trafficking.
Teddy’s Transport in Holland is hosting a free, speaker series called “Fight Human Trafficking – Get Informed and Empowered” on August 18th and 24th at their headquarters in Holland.
It was Helen Zeerip, Teddy’s Transport President’s idea to host the event.
“I want them to be educated and I want them to be empowered,” she said.
The two-part event will feature several local experts, from task force members to Michigan lawmakers.
Zeerip said, “We hear that it’s going on, but we as just common citizens don’t have a clue what to do to fix it. So I want people to come in here and educate us about this situation and empower us to do something about it and save these kids and adults.”
One of those speakers is the founder of Women at Risk International, Rebecca McDonald.
She said, “We explain how to look for this in your community, and we explain how to see the signs of it, who to call, what to call, how to call. You can talk, and talk, and talk, but if you don’t give me something to do about it I’m done.”
McDonald has been working to fight human trafficking for more than 30 years and wants to change our perceptions about what trafficking really looks like.
“It sounds very frightening, and there are a lot of myths, and there’s a lot of false facts. Only 3% of trafficking victims are kidnapped, it’s not kidnapping. Well over 90% of traffickers are known to the victim, “ she said.
All of Teddy’s Transport employees have gone through Truckers Against Trafficking training, which is something Zeerip said has been eye-opening.
“They could see a suspicious looking trailer being hauled, they could see a person that looks scared. You know, they have so much more exposure. They are in the cities, they are in the country, they are at truck stops, they’re at restaurants, they are all over the place, so the chances of them seeing it are higher than your Average Joe that’s working in an office all day,” she said.
Zeerip said it’s a simple start, but one she hopes creates a lot of conversation and more importantly, action.
She said, “If we do this and we save one person it’s worth all the work.”
Rachel VerWys, Founder of SEE – Solutions to End Exploitation, Stacey Sills, the Chair of Ottawa County Human Trafficking Taskforce and Michigan State Rep. Mary Whiteford.
The event starts at 7pm on both August 18th and 24th.
It is free and open to the public.
The event will be held outside to allow for social distancing, so bring something to sit on.
Teddy Transport is located at 930 Interchange Dr. in Holland.