By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Photos by Christopher Winston
The 2nd Annual Freedom Fest, hosted by Ark2Freedom and Hope for the Hungry, took place at Yettie Polk Park, on Saturday, March 3.
“We reached out and asked for vendors to come, but when people learned what we are here spreading awareness for, so many people got on board,” explained Kathy, event organizer and Director of Ark2Freedom Ministries at Hope for the Hungry. “We are out here today to spread awareness about human trafficking. It’s important to know that human trafficking involves people right here in Central Texas.”
Freedom Fest featured 24 vendors, 11 food vendors, and eight informational tables.
“Angelheart, Inc. is a foster and adoption agency here in downtown Belton,” stated Analy Gallegos, Case Aide. “We are at Freedom Fest to let the public know who we are and what we do. All of the children we deal with are in the state foster care system. One of the mandatory trainings a foster parent is required to go through is about human trafficking.”
Jessica Davenport was working the Arusha’s Coffee table at Freedom Fest.
“We are here today to help raise awareness – human trafficking can take place anywhere even right here in Central Texas. Today we are featuring our hand-blended teas and home-roasted coffee. Ten percent of our sales today at Freedom Fest will go to support Ark2Freedom,” stated Jessica Davenport.
A frequent discussion topic among speakers, performers, vendors, and attendees was the relevance of understanding human trafficking and its’ local impact. According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is “modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries worldwide, including in the United States. Human trafficking is a silent crime as victims rarely come forward due to fear of their traffickers or law enforcement, or a language barrier.
More information about human trafficking can be found at https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking.