How exciting it was to attend the showing of the Not My Life documentary at Hermitage High School on October 12th. Exciting, because of the enthusiasm of the Prevention Project students! They are clearly “owning” this human trafficking educational program being piloted in their school. The turnout was amazing with over 300 attending the event at the invitation of the students in the program. What made it more impressive was the fact Hermitage High was facing one of their biggest rivals in football that same evening. Even Principal, Ms. Omega Wilson attended the screening, along with other teachers. In chatting with Ms. Wilson briefly, she said she too is very impressed with the program and the students’ openness to becoming so involved in this fight to stop human trafficking. To learn more about Richmond Justice Initiative’s (RJI) Prevention Project and to keep up with the program as it progresses, visit our web site and Facebook page set up especially for this program. (https://www.prevention-project.org/home.php; https://www.facebook.com/thepreventionproject?fref=ts)
The evening started with students and those they invited entering the school with the opportunity to purchase various Prevention Project items. T-shirts, buttons, and black wrist bands, with the Prevention Project symbol of the big orange “X”, were for sell with all proceeds going strictly back into the program. Some of the students even made baked goods to sell (also decorated with the orange “X”) all in an effort to raise even more monies for the program they strongly believe in.
As the screening began, students filed into the auditorium. RJI Director, Sara Pomeroy greeted the students and made opening remarks – also providing the students with a text number where they could ask questions about anything they saw in the movie as the movie progressed. “Not My Life is the first documentary film to depict the horrifying and dangerous practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale.” While those responsible for making the film acknowledge that millions of adults universally are forced into human trafficking, there focus is on the children forced into slavery as they represent the vast majority of those trafficked. It is this fundamental truth that causes the film’s director, Oscar nominee Robert Bilheimer, to raise the questions: 1) “What kind of society cannibalizes its own children?” and 2) “Can we do these sorts of things on such a large scale and still call ourselves human in any meaningful sense of the term?” For further information on this documentary, visit their web site: https://notmylife.org/
For me, the most touching time of the event – were the interviews held of the students after the screening for purposes of feedback on the program. Also, the entire Prevention Project is being filmed for the production of its own documentary. The purpose of this documentary is to promote the Prevention Program to others interested in seeing a human trafficking educational program in their schools. Already schools not only throughout the state of Virginia, but in other cities within the country, have made it clear that they want this prevention program in their schools to educate their children. I love the remarks made by one female student of the program when interviewed about her feelings and opinions about the Prevention Project. To paraphrase her, she said that when the issue of human trafficking was first presented to her, she thought the instructors were being overly dramatic about how big an issue it is. But now…..now she SEES the enormity and the horror of the human trafficking issue worldwide. She also said that as time progresses and she sees this program grow and spread throughout the schools in the United States, she can look at it and say with pride, “Yah, I started that.” I couldn’t help but tear up as I realized that these students were owning the program, owning their new positions as modern day abolitionists. In doing so….they then become the solution to preventing and eradicating human slavery. ~ Christina Nyczepir