By Summer Barraza
The Portland Metro area has had a sordid history of human trafficking most notably the Shanghai Tunnels in Chinatown. To add, there are approximately 27,000 documented homeless youth in the area that could potentially be exposed to sex trafficking and abuse, but also a nebulous amount of undocumented homeless youth can fall prey to these situations as well, said Ashlee Zell, an intern for Village for One, a non-profit organization.
On Jan. 25, Clackamas Community College teamed up with multiple organizations to set up a booth in the Bill Brod Community Center to raise awareness, share experiences and offer resources and advice. The booth was covered in pamphlets, flyers and candy, which was inviting to students. Tall cardboard silhouettes of a male and a female with life-saving and life-threatening facts and statistics surround the booth.
Amanda Keeler, mother of five and student at CCC, expressed her concern about her 9-year-old daughter who goes to school in the Beaverton school district. A man recently drove by the girl’s school in a white van attempting to lure children, and had done so previously at other schools. After visiting the booth, Keeler said she feels very grateful and more comfortable with the information she has acquired.
Village for One serves both Clackamas and Marion counties and they participated at the booth. Zell, discussed how a lot of homeless youth are the victims of sex trafficking and how they’re manipulated into doing such work. They are offered companionship, food, water, shelter and clothes and the idea is that victims feel indebted to these people and give up their freedom. Because of this, Village for One is open to meeting with boys and girls in public places such as McDonald’s to discuss their situations and the best way to get out of them, Zell said.
Although there were organizations visiting from outside of the college, CCC has its own advocate against sexual assault on campus, Mary Vest, who works through Clackamas Women’s Services and works in Barlow Hall 202A. Vest is on campus to make sure that assault or abuse survivors receive care and are able to discuss their situations in peace and privacy. On her door, she lists her office hours, and her cell phone number, which she says she is always available to answer.