On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, January 20th an energetic group of 150 Vista area citizens embarked on the 12th annual Human Trafficking Awareness Walk. Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland sponsors this event to highlight the impact of sexual exploitation in our community. Held high, the “Honk to Stop Human Trafficking” signs were greeted by noisy horns of support as they marched from the Wave Water Park along Vista Village Drive to Civic Center Drive and back.
We heard from two experts. The first, Masayo Halpin, retired FBI agent, spoke of her long term relationship with a young girl who at first resisted help, but because of Masayo’s consistent interest and care, got out of “the life.” Jaimee Johnson followed with a poem she wrote about her years in “modern day slavery.” Her words made it clear that nearly every street on which we drive or sidewalk on which we walk holds secrets. Those were hers. She now helps current victims as a peer counselor with Project Life, North County Lifeline’s program which since 2012 has assisted in the rescue and treatment of 148 girls.
Kaye Van Nevel conducted the program. She urged attendees to absorb the day’s information, then move forward with alert eyes and ears, and share their knowledge with friends and most importantly, with our vulnerable young people.
Photos of the event are posted online here: