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Nonprofit amping up human trafficking awareness in Columbus

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:03 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - An organization and businesses throughout the Fountain City are coming together to raise awareness about human trafficking.

They’re amping up the efforts after a Columbus mother was charged with human trafficking in connection to her daughter’s murder.

News Leader 9 has learned many of those crimes actually occur or online or in impoverished neighborhoods like the ones along second avenue.

Anyone driving down Second Avenue may have noticed red sand on the sidewalk. The display is part of the Red Sand Project, which brings awareness to human trafficking.

The sand is poured in the cracks to fill the gaps that cause vulnerable people, including children, to be sexually exploited.

“This is something that happens in homes and is perpetrated by family members,” said Bobbi Starr, Executive Director of the non-profit organization Micah’s Promise. “Family members are the third main facilitator of trafficking of children.”

Micah’s promise is amping up efforts like the Red Sand Project to increase awareness about this issue in Columbus. Local businesses participating in the Red Sand Project include Mercy Med and the Food Mill.

“Beyond this project, Micah’s promise is training us and lots of others in the community by becoming more aware of signs to look for,” said Billy Holbrook, Mercy Med’s Chief Development Officer.

Starr says the top 3 ways human trafficking is facilitated are:

1. Technology - Starr says the most vulnerable population online are middle schoolers.

2. She says many victims are trafficked at the hands of their acquaintances or peers.

3. Starr even says some of these crimes involve family members.

“25 percent of the family-facilitated trafficking is by a mother,” said Starr.

A warrant for 5-year-old Kamarie Holland’s mother reveals Kristy Siple is charged with one count of human trafficking in connection to her daughter’s death.

“Kids would not be for sale if there was not a buyer who’s out there looking for them to purchase them,” said Starr.

Micah’s Promise is also building a therapeutic treatment facility specifically for female sex trafficking victims ages 12 to 17. That facility will be at an undisclosed location and they’re hoping to open in September.

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