Some wore bright red tape with a black X across their mouths.
Some marched with their heads down in silence.
Some carried signs that read “End It Now” and “Look Beneath the Surface.”
But on the walkway at Cranes Roost in Altamonte Springs, the group stopped and huddled Saturday morning.
They started to pray for the nearly 27 million victims of human trafficking.
This group was part of a larger movement Saturday at several locations organized by the Faith Alliance to End Slavery and Human Trafficking, a network of about 50 Central Florida churches that advocates for social justice issues as part of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force.
“We believe in prayer that leads to action,” said Tomas Lares, chairman of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force who led the prayer walk at Cranes Roost. “People really wanted to do something in their own backyard, in their own community.”
The walk comes in the wake of the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in northeast Nigeria last month by a rebel group that threatened to sell them into slavery. Nigerian government officials have deployed army divisions to search for the girls and several countries, including the United States, Britain, Israel and France have pledged help. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has gone viral on social media with numerous celebrities and politicians including Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Alicia Keys supporting the awareness effort.
In Florida, the state Department of Children and Families found 943 reported cases of human trafficking in 2013. Nationwide, nearly 293,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation, according to the FBI.
Carol Welker, who participated in the Altamonte Springs prayer walk and attends First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, said she did not know human trafficking happened in this country until a few years ago. At 78, she said she finds younger generations taking action to help victims and spread awareness.
Source: Orlando Sentinel | Jayna Omaye