BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon chapter of Oregonians Against the Trafficking of Humans (OATH) will host a candlelight vigil Monday, as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Regional Director Nita Belles says the only way to end the atrocities is to keep talking about the problem. "The first step is awareness. We have awareness meetings; we have people learning how to spot human trafficking; we’re networking with law enforcement and other nonprofits; we’re working together and linking arms to make a difference. It does make a difference. We have many victims that have been recovered from Central Oregon."
She adds, "We want people to know human trafficking is happening here, in our backyard. All the traffickers ask is that we be quiet and we believe that it’s not here. As long as I have breath, I will talk about this, and we need to be all talking about it."
Belles lead a successful legislative effort to distribute Freedom Stickers
with all state liquor license renewals. The stickers include the number to a national hotline and are designed to be placed inside bathroom stalls.
Tonight’s vigil is in partnership with Soroptimist International
it begins at 6 p.m. in front of Belatazza in downtown Bend. Belles says they’ll talk about warning signs and how everyone can help prevent human trafficking.