5K for Freedom brings attention to trafficking, refugee crisis
Students Ending Slavery and Oxfam UMD hosted the annual 5K for Freedom on April 5 to raise money for human trafficking survivors.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, about 50 people gathered around the sundial at McKeldin Mall for the event. Representatives from UMD SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors and International Rescue Committee were present.
Oxfam UMD presidents Malika Bai and Danie Stewart said Oxfam helps administer relief supplies, such as clean water and blankets, to refugees, and they also provide medical and legal services.
“In the fall, we work mostly on food security issues because that’s a big thing for Oxfam, so we talk about their Eat for Good campaign and also their other global food security acts,” said Bai, a senior public health science major. “And in the spring, we focus on the refugee crisis just because this event.”
Stewart and Bai led an interactive simulation aimed at humanizing the Syrian refugee crisis and highlighting the difficulties of immigration. Each participant had a card with an immigration story based on a real Syrian refugee. Depending on the color of the card, one could be in Syria, traveling to or currently the United States.
In the interactive simulation, many people were unsuccessful in their journeys. Only a few made it to the United States safely.
Oxfam also had a petition demanding President Donald Trump and Congress enact more humane and comprehensive immigration laws.
Students Ending Slavery led the other portion of the event, the 5K run. The organization’s president, Sierra Dischel, said the group works to abolish all forms of global and local modern day slavery.
“We work through advocacy, through raising awareness, volunteering and through events like this to achieve those missions to fight and help survivors of human trafficking and slavery,” said Dischel, a senior government and politics major and internationals development minor.
The money raised from the event will go to Oxfam’s Global Refugee Crisis Fund and SAFE Center.
Dischel explained that these were both great causes, but “the even longer impact is the work that these people who are learning about it are gonna do.”