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An act of inspiration

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By Kirsten Laskey

You don’t often hear about young people inspiring the older generation. But that is exactly what happened to Luanne Stahl.

She heard Los Alamos High School graduate Rachel Hill describe the greatest gift her parents ever gave her and it propelled Stahl into action.

Hill explained her most precious present was when her parents freed a sex slave in her name.

Her story prompted a memory for Stahl, when one of her teenage relatives hosted a dance-a-thon with her church’s youth group to raise money to free a sex slave.

As a result, Hill and Stahl put their heads together and produced Operation Freedom, a local group working to support Transitions Global, an organization that frees people from human trafficking and helps to re-integrate them into society.

To assist this organization, Operation Freedom is hosting a dance. The dance will held from 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Ashley Pond.

The event will include a DJ, dance, music, food, silent auction and raffle that will include prizes such as an iPod Touch, and iPod shuffle, gift cards from local businesses, a paintball gun and donated art from local artists.

It won’t be all merriment. A DVD will be played informing participants of the world-wide human-trafficking problem as well as solutions to stop this criminal activity.

There will also be a video presentation of Transitions Global.   Attorney General Gary King, who recently started his own campaign against human trafficking, will be the guest speaker.

Support for the event has already been huge. Stahl, who is coordinating the event along with Hill, said they have received $1,100.

The goal for the event is to be able to help save one person. Stahl said from rescue to re-intergration, costs about $5,000.

Additionally, the attorney general came on board after Stahl called his office to thank him for starting his campaign against human trafficking.

She was asked if she would like King to speak at the event and she quickly agreed.

“We are so grateful to partner with him and thrilled he is partnering with us,” Stahl said.

Human trafficking is not a minor issue and it is happening closer to home than some may think

It is the second largest criminal activity in the world, right behind illegal drugs.

There are currently 14 million people trafficked in the world and more than 50,000 women and children trafficked in the U.S. every year.

“This is really something in our own backyard,” Stahl said.

Luckily, there are organizations such as Transitions Global responding to this problem.

Stahl explained she discovered this organization while doing research on the Internet.

In a twist of fate, the founders of Transitions Global, James and Athena Pond, have a daughter named Ashley. It conjures up images of Los Alamos’ own Ashley Pond, who founded the Ranch School.

Transitions Global, which has been in operation since 2004, encompasses both trauma recovery and empowerment to the individual. The organization strives to build a new life for those who have been enslaved and abused.

Transitions Global has set up centers in Cambodia, India and is opening a center in Portland, Ore.

So far, the organization has rescued and revitalized the lives of 97 people in Cambodia.

The purpose of the dance is to push others into action.

“(We) want to empower these kids,” Stahl said. “This is a gift of empowerment to you. You can be world changers wherever you go.

“You guys have a voice and can carry it with you wherever you go and I love that.”

Stahl continued, “I hope that they learn that this is a ever-growing, horrendous problem (and that) their eyes grow with awareness. I hope people grow in compassion and awareness and just (know) they can make a difference.”

Through this event, Hill said, people “will definitely feel compassion, empathy and a sense of urgency.”

Often, she said, it seems people don’t think this issue is a big deal because they are unaffected by it; however, it is an issue that has a world-wide impact.

“I want to change people’s attitudes in this way,” Hill said.

She added the event will not be entirely somber. There will be a fine line between having an enjoyable time and witnessing an extremely tragic topic.

It’s important to have this celebratory atmosphere in the dance, Hill said.

“I think the spirit of the event will be a sense of urgency and hope.”

Stahl added, the dance will be a demonstration of freedom, a symbolic way of giving freedom back to those who had it stolen from them.

“It’s a demonstration of freedom,” she said. “We want to release (this freedom) through awareness.”

Grace Vineyard is presenting the event, which allows for 100 percent of the profits to go to Transitions Global.

For more information about Transitions Global, see www.transitionsglobal.com and for more information about Operation Freedom, call Stahl at 662-5044.