Students gathered in silent solidarity at Seven Palms Thursday to commemorate human trafficking victims through an evening of music, art, video clips, letter-writing, bracelet-making and time for simple, quiet reflection.
“A Captive Voice,” an event hosted by Azusa Pacific’s Free the Captives club, not only drew awareness to human trafficking but also raised funds for Enactus, a non-profit organization that business students are working with to use the funds to support and restore human trafficking victims through other events next semester, and benefit the project “My Rescue.”
The event was interspersed with a series of instrumental performances from student musicians. Additionally, a dancer performed on stage while films on human trafficking played on the screens and artists stroked color onto small, white canvases.
“The performances were really solid,” said junior psychology major Katie Powell, a student on the Free the Captives leadership team. “We had some great people who were willing to come out and perform for us, and everyone was really happy with it.”
The artists seemed to draw inspiration from the atmosphere and the musical performances.
“For this event I was able to kind of let go of what was holding me back, and this environment really provided the space for that because of the art expressions and the music that was going on and the video clips they showed,” said junior art major Rachel Baydian. “I was able to express myself through that.”
Attendees were encouraged to embrace their own creative sides by beading bracelets and writing letters to human trafficking victims. At these letter-writing stations, students could personally connect with a victim of human trafficking, and could send a bracelet with each letter or create a bracelet to remind themselves of the cause. Bead by bead and letter by letter, they were encouraged to manifest their passion and dwell in silence.
“Some of the trends here at APU are open mic and talent shows, because students here at APU are very talented,” said sophomore Christian ministries major Josh Holm, president of Free the Captives. “We wanted to do an event that was the exact opposite of that, where silence could be just as powerful.”
Although some students were disappointed at the untimely drizzle, Powell reflected that rather than detracting from the event, the rain made it all the more powerful.
“If anything, it made the mood of the night a little bit more appropriate, because it was more of a somber, solemn mood,” Powell said, “And this was perfect for what we’re fighting for.”
Baydian was drawn to the event’s cause and said she wants to see human trafficking put to an end.
“I have not undergone the same sort of thing as these girls, but there are times when I do see inequalities or feel insecurities based off of my gender,” Baydian said. “I think that it’s really important to show a presence here in support of those who are utterly in despair and who don’t have a place to go.”
Free the Captives aims to do just that; its mission is to spread awareness of human trafficking and to make a difference with service projects in the Los Angeles area.
“This is a great team of students who are very involved in wanting to see things change and to bring awareness to human trafficking,” said Deb Baker, social work professor and Free the Captives faculty adviser. “It’s wonderful to see the students take that on and wanting to be able to make change.”
With the funds raised by “A Captive Voice,” Enactus plans to host another fundraiser later in the academic year that will take the form of a fashion show and auction, according to Holm. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward human trafficking victims, helping to rebuild their lives and providing them with essential skills for living outside of slavery.
“I’m just moved and proud to be a part of the movement here at APU as Free the Captives,” said Holm. “Last year at this point we weren’t even a club, and this year we have more than enough students who show a heart and a passion for this issue. It’s just very humbling and honoring to be a part of this movement.”