This weekend people will have a chance to help raise money for victims of human trafficking around the world. Run for Rescue is a 5k, 10k and half marathon race sponsored by the Kodiak Assembly Of God. The race raises funds for the organization Project Rescue. Sonia Walker is an associate pastor at Assembly of God and organizes the race, which is in its third year running.
Walker said she became aware of Project Rescue more than four years ago, and was impressed by the work the organization does educating people about human trafficking and rescuing women and children that are victims of the industry. She decided to start the run for rescue race here in Kodiak to spread the same awareness and help raise money for the organization.
“The past two years we’ve raised $500 each year that has gone directly to Project Rescue. And I just hope it keeps growing. My dream is that it will take root throughout the state and even the nation, so people all over the nation will be running at the same time, same day for this cause and bringing awareness to this and to help with the funding of rescuing women and children.”
She said Project Rescue works to help women and children get out of the industry and prevent them from having to return to it.
“And it’s a very slow process a lot of the time. Because they are owned by their pimps and madams. And they are slaves. And sometimes they don’t want to be rescued yet. They are afraid, they are hardened, they don’t see any other way, and they don’t know any other life. So some of the things that Project Rescue does is they provide safe homes – they’re called Homes of Hope – a safe place for women to come. So during their off hours they can come to these homes and have a place to relax and just sit where they don’t have to talk to anyone, they don’t have to touch anyone. They can just come and have a safe place to be.”
Walker said Project Rescue also sponsors after hour care programs for children while their moms are still forced to work in the industry.
While human trafficking may seem like a world away, Walker said she’s found that it’s actually a lot closer than one might think.
“I’ve heard stories as I become more aware of this and talk to more people about it that some people even come to some of the villages in Alaska and take young girls to go be nannies and go work in the city in different jobs and really they’re taking these girls to go and to be a part of human trafficking – to sell into prostitution. It’s very common in the cities. Actually the United States is one of the top three destination points for human trafficking with California, New York, Texas and Nevada being the top destinations in America.”
All of the proceeds of the run for rescue race will go directly to Project Rescue. The race will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday with registration starting at 9 a.m. at Otmeloi Park. Registration costs $20 and people are invited to run or walk.