By Peak News Contributor Dave Diepenbrock

When pollsters ask Americans where to cut government spending, reducing foreign aid is always near the top of the list. Stingy? Maybe, but it may also stem from the fact that Americans were the most giving country in the world in 2011. Americans are deeply committed to charity, and helping others has deep roots in our history.

Our greatest national controversy was over slavery. And, while we’d like to think otherwise, slavery still exists in the United States.

As a recognition of this fact, more than two dozen churches along Colorado’s Front Range have decided to celebrate “Freedom Sunday” on February 26.

Slavery looks different today than the agricultural slavery that ruled the South before the Civil War. Every month more than 1,000 humans are trafficked into the US from other countries – often to enter forced prostitution. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Half those trafficked are children, and most of those forced into the sex trade are women.

In the last decade here in Colorado, three separate entities worked to combat human trafficking as part of a program coordinated by the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference. They worked with secular groups and other religious organizations to offer victim services, protection from assault and violence and even provide safe shelter through relocation.

These efforts were a remarkable tribute to what can happen when churches, non-profits and the government work together to combat problems in our society. Thousands of victims were helped by this effort. Things just seem to work better with this kind of cooperation.

Regardless of our political stripe, we all probably agree that combating slavery – and aiding its victims – is something we’d be willing to support.

An upcoming event at Denver University will put this horrifying business into an international perspective. It’s sponsored by the Colorado chapter of Women of Vision, a part of World Vision (the disaster relief and child sponsorship people).

Pulitzer-prize winner Sheryl WuDunn will speak about turning the oppression of human trafficking into opportunity. Her book, Half the Sky, (coauthored with her husband) will be a PBS special this coming fall.

With 12 million people held in slavery across the globe, here’s just a few words about one woman’s plight: “trafficked to a brothel, drugged and beaten, and forced to work 7 days a week, 15 hours a day sleeping with male customers. Condoms were banned, she was never paid, and she was fed just barely enough food to keep her alive.”

Change is possible. If you’d like to learn more about human trafficking, ways to combat it and care for its victims, come to DU’s Newman Center.


Date: February 16

Time: 7-9 pm

Place: DU Newman Center, 2344 E Iliff Avenue

Event: Beauty from Ashes: Turning Oppression into Opportunity

Speaker: Sheryl WuDunn

Tickets: call 303 871-7720 (10am – 4pm)

Further info: