Arlington High School history teacher, Barry Jurgensen, is walking across the state of Nebraska to promote awareness for human trafficking and raise funds for local organizations fighting this social injustice.
“By walking across the great state of Nebraska, we are hoping to bring more committees together to create a joint effort to stop this social injustice. Regular citizens need to stand up against human trafficking, as as all social injustices,” Jurgensen said.
The walk started on June 2nd in Omaha and will end in Scottsbluff on June 28th. During this time, the 33 year old is sacrificing time away from his wife and two young children.
“I owe a lot to my wife. She continues to support me and take care of our kids while I am gone,” Jurgensen said.
In 2014, Jurgensen was named Nebraska History Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education.
In the classroom, Jurgensen’s honors history students research and nominate sites associated with the Underground Railroad to the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom. It was through this work that Jurgensen got inspired to look more into modern slavery, otherwise known as human trafficking.
“Slavery has been in existence for thousands of years and we continue to relabel it, which has contributed to its continued existence,” Jurgensen said.
After graduating from Dana College, Jurgensen worked for the National Parks Service, but it was a drive to inspire young people that led him to teaching.
“I wanted to bring history alive for students, help them learn how to preserve the past, and use that knowledge to improve or give back to our society today,” Jurgensen said.
During the summer of 2016, Jurgensen walked from Nebraska City to Chicago, retracing the journey of two female freedom seekers from 1858. Through this journey, his efforts raised $27,000 for the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, an organization that focuses on promoting human trafficking prevention education in schools.
“Enough is enough and we, as citizen, can do something about it,” Jurgensen said. “Become informed and take action.”
During Jurgensen’s walk across the state he will be doing a presentations in Dawson County along with the Executive Director of the Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration Outreach Leticia Bonifas. The public is encouraged to attend a presentation at Parkview Baptist Church in Lexington On June 16th, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery in which people profit from exploiting others through force, fraud, coercion or deception. The U.S. government has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal industry globally, tied with illegal arms trade at second, with the drug trade in first place.
In 2000, the United States made human trafficking a federal crime with the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Nebraska also passed a law in 2006 that made human trafficking illegal, although there are many limitations in the law that make it hard to enforce and prosecute traffickers. This issue matters because of the injustice it causes to those who become victims of this monstrous crime.
If you would like to donate to an organization that fights human trafficking in Nebraska ease visit the following site. We are walking for several organizations in Nebraska that fight slavery today, please read the description of each and click on their link to donate. - Walk Forever Free https://sites.google.com/view/walkforeverfree2017/donate.
If you are interested in learning more about what is being done in Dawson County contact Leticia Bonifas, Central Nebraska Human Trafficking And Immigration Outreach at 308-325-2295.