Human trafficking may sometimes seem like the issue dejour for students and young people, but retired people and seniors have a tremendous capacity for contributing to the abolitionist cause. Activism can help older adults stay engaged in their communities both physically and mentally and leader happier, healthier lives. Here are 10 ways for seniors to get involved in the fight to end slavery.
1. Share Your Skills: Anti-trafficking organizations can benefit from a host of skills that older people may have developed. Whether you were an accountant for 30 years or an opera singer, chances are your skill set is valuable to those organizations fighting human trafficking. Get in touch with your local anti-trafficking organization, or even a national one, and find out how your skills can be put to work
2. Inspire Your Community: Reach out to your peers and educate them about human trafficking. Invite friends or family over for a movie night about human trafficking or bring a speaker to your place of worship or community center. By getting other people you know talking, you can help inspire even greater activism.
3. Volunteer: If you’re retired an looking for a worthy project, why not volunteer at an anti-trafficking organization? I used to work at one that had a huge number of retired people on call to do emergency fund raising. They were fantastic fund raisers and had a great time doing it.
4. Mentor a Young Activist: Do you know someone, perhaps a grandchild or other young person, teetering on the brink of activism? Be the one who tips them over the edge and helps them cut their activist teeth. You have so much knowledge and experience to share.
5. Change Your Consumption Habits: I don’t care how long you’ve been buying a certain product, it’s never too late to change. Take a good, hard look at what you buy and where it comes from, and try to make better decisions about what products to support. After all, every time you make a purchase, you vote for that product. And no one wants to vote for slavery.
6. Record History: Human trafficking may be a new movement, but it’s not a new phenomenon. Have you had experiences with what we now call human trafficking before it was known as that? Record those experiences, so we can learn from the past and not repeat its mistakes.
7. Support the Next Generation of Women: Females disproportionately become victims of human trafficking because in many countries (including the U.S.) they lack the same educational and economic opportunities given to men. There are a number of international microeconomic development programs which give opportunities to girls and women, as well as U.S. organizations like the Girl Scouts which can help low-income girls afford college.
8. Raise Funds: Money still makes the world go round, and human trafficking victims need it now more than ever. Work with your community to host a fundraiser using your skills and interests and donate the money to a local anti-trafficking organization.
9. Get Active: If you’re in good enough health, get out and get active by joining a community walk against human trafficking or other such event. If you’re not able to walk, consider working at a water station or check-in table.
10. Change the Laws: Retired people are a powerful voting bloc. Find out if the local anti-trafficking laws in your area need some help and ask local politicans to change them. Politicans may listen to you more than other groups, and actually do something.
Photo credit: aflcio2008