Art raises trafficking awareness

Project P.A.T.H.E. hosted the “Look Beneath the Surface” benefit May 7 in the Titan Student Union to raise awareness about human trafficking.

“Our main goal is to spread awareness about human trafficking, help out people who have been trafficked and find preventive mechanisms to solve the problem,” said Karina Gutierrez, president of Project People Against Trafficking and Human Exploitation

The total profits of human trafficking are estimated to be at least $32 billion per year, and has surpassed drugs and weapons trafficking, according to the International Labor Organization.

“It’s such a huge problem, and most individuals don’t realize that we still have slavery in our world,” Gutierrez said. “We actually have more slaves today than ever before in history.”

The event included two speakers, food, live music and a silent auction featuring art from former Project P.A.T.H.E. members.

The presentations were by Sandie Morgan, the founder of the OC Human Trafficking Task Force, and Jeffrey Kottler, professor of counseling at Cal State Fullerton. Each described their individual work with victims of sex trafficking.

“I saw Dr. Kottler’s workshop at the Women Against Violence Conference and it was very powerful,” Gutierrez said. “I was able to see that the money does go directly to the girls and that’s what pushed me into deciding that the proceeds will be going to him.”

More than 80 percent of the proceeds from the benefit will be donated to Kottler’s Empower Nepali Girls Foundation, which aims to prevent sex trafficking by educating potential sex trafficking victims and keeping them in school through scholarships.

Currently, 103 Nepali girls are being supported by Kottler’s foundation and are being provided with the means to improve their written literacy, computer literacy and prepare themselves for a university education.

“So many girls are dependent on our ongoing support,” Kottler said. “We’re trying to change this culture to value girls. I want people to know that it’s easy to make a difference and start your own mission or movement to help people.”

Kottler explained in his presentation that it only takes $100 to pay for a Nepali child’s education, which is a key component to stop girls as young as 8 yeas old from being sold into slavery. All of the donations he receives are used to support the girls and Kottler encourages those who are skeptical about donating money to travel with him to Nepal.

“The goal is that we’re trying to touch people’s hearts – not just touch the hearts of girls but that the girls will touch the hearts of volunteers,” Kottler said. “There’s nobody who goes to Nepal that returns the same person.”

The foundation is recruiting volunteers to help support the current 103 girls and is hoping to add another 20 girls to the scholarship fund this year. For more information about volunteering visit

“I feel empowered and I want to go with Dr. Kottler to Nepal now,” said Shelly Villalobos, a 22-year-old sociology major. “This event has really opened up my eyes


Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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