For their 10th anniversary, the Oklahoma Christian Modern Abolitionists organization plans to raise awareness for human trafficking and educate students on ways to combat modern-day slavery.
OCMA’s President senior Jenna Khazoyan said she is passionate about helping the marginalized and those caught in human trafficking.
“I first became interested in human trafficking because it seemed so unfair,” Khazoyan said. “The injustice some people face, especially when I have never had anything like this happen to me, it was shocking to me in our modern world there are now more slaves than there ever have been in the history of the world. The fact slavery still exists is horrifying to me.”
OCMA’s treasurer sophomore Isabella Preciado said modern-day slavery differs from the slavery of 150 years ago.
“I have seen a lot of this type of stuff growing up, especially with my parents being missionaries in their Hispanic community,” Preciado said. “You see many people who are struggling to get jobs and they find themselves in those circumstances they were not expecting. They may not have come to the U.S. in a legal way, or they owe a debt.”
In an effort to demonstrate the magnitude modern-day slavery plays in their daily lives, OCMA participated in an exercise at their meeting Sept. 21.
“This week our activity was slavery footprints, which is a way to look at your lifestyle and determining how the things you buy, the places you go and shop use products that were made by slaves,” Khazoyan said. “At the end, it gives you a number of slaves that ‘work for you.’ My number this year was 47 slaves who ‘work for me’. Obviously, this number is not exact, but it shows based on the number of things I buy produced by slaves in other countries. The more products I buy are produced by slaves, the more I am contributing to slavery in other countries with my money.”
Khazoyan said students who are interested in becoming involved in the OCMA should attend the bi-weekly meetings and attend the events the organization puts on each school year.
“Every year we have five or six events,” Khazoyan said. “We do a film screening of a documentary or drama about slavery, a silent auction in the spring in the student center, a prayer vigil at a Love’s truck stop off of I-35 and we also do our bra drive in the spring. When students are packing up to go home, we ask them to donate all of their old bras. We send them to an organization that rescues girls and gives them a business by selling the bras.”
Oklahoma Christian alumnus Johnnie Frye is the off-campus sponsor of OCMA. Frye said, as a male, he understands how men play a role in human trafficking, and it is not an issue solely for which females to be concerned. He said he wants to challenge other men to be involved in OCMA.
“OCMA is for anybody to try to have events where both men and women feel comfortable being involved,” Frye said. “Anyone can be in OCMA. If you cannot go to the meetings to be involved, you can get on our email list, hear about activities, and do whatever you can with what fits your schedule.”
According to Khazon, students need to be aware of how much of an impact they can make to end modern slavery during their time on campus.
“I want students to not feel overwhelmed by the idea of modern slavery,” Khazoyan. “Especially in meetings, we will say statistics like, there are an estimated 20 million people around the world who are enslaved. That can numb us and blind us into thinking, ‘wow, this problem is too big for me.’ I know people say it all the time, ‘one person doing one thing can make a difference,’ but it is really true in this area. The more people speak out and choose to change what they buy; all of our choices really do add up and send a message to the world. It is something we, as students, can effect change if we all work together.”