When Ecclesia began holding Freedom Week in 2012, 27 million slaves existed world wide. That number has now climbed to 30 million. Photo by Madison Imbusch.
During the week of Nov. 3 -7, one walking around campus would most likely notice the wooden silhouettes of people with duct tape over their mouths and their bodies painted with ominous phrases like “27 million slavery still exists.”
Signs that read “#freedomweek” or facts about slavery were taped to light posts. During the week, a tall wooden cage was placed outside the caf. Some students and faculty members were asked by Ecclesia, the ministry on campus behind freedom week, to stand in the cage throughout the week to represent the world’s enslaved population.
The number on the wooden silhouettes and placed around campus is the number of slaves in the world. Since the Ecclesia’s first year hosting Freedom Week in 2012, the number of people sold into slavery has increased from 27 million to 30 million. According to Emily Page, freshman and speech language pathology major, it’s important Ecclesia raises money every year because slavery is still prevalent in the world, specifically in our country. The United States is the biggest destination spot for human trafficking.
Those students and faculty who agreed to participate in the cage take time out of their days to do nothing but stand in the space for a designated amount of time or until they reach the money goal they set. The cage gets people’s attention and arouses questions. Standing inside Montevallo’s cage is nothing compared to what a enslaved person experiences, but it visualizes the idea of enslavement and the need of others’ help, says Page.
This year, Ecclesia raised $2,360 to fight human trafficking, double the amount they raised last year. In addition to the cage, which is the most successful part of Freedom Week, Ecclesia hosted other events to raise money. All students were welcome to participate in these events, but were charged admission. On Monday, they held a dodgeball tournament. Greek organizations and Ecclesia’s two teams competed in the games. On Tuesday afternoon, Ecclesia held Freedom Fest on King Quad. were carnival games, popcorn, drinks, a travel boutique and a Freedom Week sheet sign that participants could spray paint. Thursday, Nov. 6 was Freedom Night for Ecclesia. They held a presentation about human trafficking.
One hundred percent of the proceeds is sent to two organizations: The International Justice Mission (IJM) and She Dances. IJM works to rescue victims out of slavery, bring justice to the criminals of trafficking, restore the survivors and strengthen the justice systems all over the world. “She Dances” provides restoration for girls who have been trafficked or sexually harmed.
Ecclesia plans to continue hosting Freedom Week on Montevallo’s campus. “We just keep doing it because we’re in dire need of it,” says Ecclesia’s Page.