marianist.com/donate • 5 GOOD SAMARITANS A CALL FOR The Marianist LIFE program educates high school students about modern-day slavery and what each can do. By Jan D. Dixon Could it be him, the kid you saw working with the landscaping crew near your parish? Or her, the nanny baby-sitting kids at the playground? Or the young girl getting her nails done at your salon who was accompanied by that strange older man? Without fully realizing it, you may have witnessed one of the most egregious human rights abuses of our time: human trafficking. Simply put, human trafficking is the illegal practice of procuring or trading in human beings for the purpose of forced labor, prostitution or other forms of exploitation. But these words fail to convey the horrific underlying tragedy — that 46 million people on this planet are modern-day slaves, routinely subjected to humili- ation, suffering and the loss of basic human rights. What’s even more shocking, “it’s happening all around us, and it’s hard to detect,” says Tony Talbott, interim executive director, University of Dayton Human Rights Center in Dayton, Ohio, and a national expert on human trafficking. But once detected, it’s also easy to ignore. When confronted with something that seems suspicious, “people often avert their eyes and look away because they think ‘it’s none of my business,’ or ‘I don’t want to get involved,’” says Tony. “Or in the case of immigrants, they simply don’t care.” Avoidance. That was Toni Mesina’s first reaction when she thought about the issue. “The subject scared me,” says Toni,nationalcoordinatorforMarianistLIFE,ahighschool faith-formation program. But the more she researched it, the more determined she was to engage students in addressing this issue. “Many people have no idea that human trafficking is happening in the United States,” she says. The Department of Justice estimates that in the U.S. there are 200,000 people enslaved in labor or sex trades. Half are children. Three years ago, the LIFE program launched a social justice education module focused HUMAN TRAFFICKING: IF WE SEE SOMEONE WHO NEEDS HELP, DO WE STOP? THERE IS SO MUCH SUFFERING AND POVERTY, AND A GREAT NEED FOR GOOD SAMARITANS.” — Pope Francis Jack Troy, from a parish in Mason, Ohio, takes a moment to digest what he is learning about human trafficking at LIFE Central 2017. PHOTO: ANDY SNOW