Human trafficking is not a problem some place else, it’s a problem that exits in every state — including South Dakota.
On May 18, 2015 Jay Atlas, Sylvester (Sly) Williams and Jonathan Moore from the Philadelphia, PA area started a journey bicycling from Fargo, North Dakota to San Antonio, Texas to raise awareness for human trafficking and funds for Worthwhile Wear’s housing program, The Well. The three young men were in Sioux Falls on Sunday, June 14th and made their way further south, spotted Monday at the Tea Exit near Marlin’s. Williams said the three men hoped to make it to Omaha in two days.
In Sioux Falls they stayed with local cyclist, Greg Boris and attended church at All Souls Unitarian Universalist to speak to members about the issue. Williams said they rely on the hospitality of area cyclists and make connections by reaching out to churches and community groups along the way. He added, “We tent it, if we have too.”
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry where perpetrators profit from the control and exploitation of others. Atlas said the issue affects everyone. According to statistics on the Trafficking Resource Center website, South Dakota had eight human trafficking cases reported, along with 83 calls in 2014; for this year, as of March 2015 eight calls had been logged.
The cyclists hope that the more people are made aware of the issue the more reports will be made and the more lives saved. The money they raise on their journey will serve to support a safe house in PA. The Well program was created to provide long-term housing and to empower women affected by commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking, providing them with the necessary coping tools to work through past trauma, complete educational benchmarks if necessary, provide long-term employment options, and secure affordable housing.
For more information about the program visit, www.worthwhilewear.org