Shelter for Freedom Hollywood Comes to Walla Walla

It was one of the largest humanitarian collaborations Walla Walla, Wash., had ever seen. Months of planning, countless decisions, numerous meetings and e-mails, all came down to one critical weekend. Two Walla Walla University students even ended up bald.

Shelter for Freedom was a series of events available to the Walla Walla community to increase awareness of global human trafficking and in turn raise money for the local women's shelter. The support would help ensure the facility had the means necessary to aid vulnerable women at risk for being trafficked. The events were coordinated by a number of passionate individuals and organizations, including WWU's student association, ASWWU; Amnesty International; and Walla Walla Soroptimist.

Through efforts by Karen Scott from Artists for Human Rights, the school was able to acquire the film "Cargo: Innocence Lost," a documentary on human trafficking. Michael Cory Davis, writer and director of the film; Michael Cory Davis, executive director of AFHR; and Anne Archer, award-winning actress and AFHR founder, were all present that weekend.

The weekend events included a historical lecture on the beginnings of human commoditization and a music and poetry recital featuring the powerful expressions of women composers and writers. The executive director of AFHR spoke at the student-led worship service on Saturday, and later in the evening there was a film screening, a panel discussion and an art auction.

All of the events were well attended, and enthusiasm began to grow in proportion to attendees' increased awareness. The weekend concluded successfully, but events continued.

ASWWU organized several follow-up events, and funds continue to add up. Two WWU students, Landon Sell, junior communications major; and Darcy Sturges, junior English major; shaved each other's heads after a close competition to see who could raise the most money for Shelter for Freedom.

Those involved are pleased with the success of the events and feel a sense of accomplishment for having played a part in increasing community awareness of such an awful human rights violation. All together, the fundraisers brought in more than $20,000 for the local women's shelter.

May 01, 2010 / Walla Walla University