The Weber State University Women’s Center hosted a fundraiser and fashion show in collaboration with the Rescue Her foundation. The foundation’s goal is to raise awareness of human trafficking.
The event was held on Sept. 25 and included a dinner, speaker, fashion show and candlelight vigil.
“We wanted to get college students involved and make them aware of what is happening, even in Utah,” said Jackie Ostler, the director of the Utah chapter of the Rescue Her foundation.
The keynote speaker was Rescue Her founder Josie Carignan. She talked about her decision to start the Rescue Her foundation and the horrors of human trafficking.
About 10 years ago, Carignan and her husband were serving in Israel when they met a Russian girl who had been trafficked.
“I would like to say that I was extremely eager to get involved, but I really wasn’t,” Carignan said. “I thought ‘oh my goodness, somebody needs to do something about this, and it should not be me,’ because what could I possible do?’’
After her youngest daughter began school, Carignan started looking for useful ways to spend her time. After praying and attending church, she came across a video and knew that her life’s mission was to raise awareness and help stop human trafficking.
Carignan loves coffee and in order to raise funds for her project she created her own coffee company. At the end of each month, she sent profits from the coffee sales to a rescue home in Cambodia.
Four years later, she is about to open her own rescue home in India, and hopes to open one in Sri Lanka and Brazil in the coming years.
Although some of her efforts are focused abroad, many of Carignan’s efforts are focused here. She has many ways of becoming close with the victims of human trafficking, without their realizing that she is there to help them.
Carignan offers free makeover days and goes to motels giving out information disguised as church material, among many other things.
“Last year, we met two girls who had been trafficked in Utah. It’s a local thing, and that is something I didn’t realize,” Ostler said. “You always think of a third-world country, but it is here.”
Within 48 hours of running away from home or being kicked out, a high majority of girls will be sold into sex trafficking, some without even realizing what is going on.
Although both genders are trafficked, 80 percent of human trafficking victims are teenage girls between 12 to 14 years old.
Another way Carignan is raising funds for her foundation is the No Makeup challenge. A spin-off of the viral ALS Ice Bucket challenge, Carignan challenges women and girls everywhere to post a picture on at least one social media platform without wearing makeup.
Tag the picture with #nomakeupchallenge and nominate three more friends. If a person doesn’t want to post a picture, they can donate to Rescue Her instead.
To learn more about the Rescue Her foundation, visit rescueher.org and follow @rescueher on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“We have to start with the one. We have to rescue her, because that is how it changes,” Carignan said. “For that one person, that is their entire life and you can do something about it.”