184 – A Toolkit for Faith-Based Communities

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Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak are joined by Nicole Wood,  the Program Advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, to discuss the recently published toolkit from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. It includes five areas of trauma-informed principles that can be implemented within a house of worship as well as resources for faith leaders and their communities.

Key Points

  • The Toolkit’s purpose is to do a better job of communicating messages that are practical, actionable, and usable for our faith leaders.
  • Faith leaders need to be equipped with resources because they are trusted messengers, force multipliers, cultural keep holders, community investors, and most importantly influence their congregations as well as the broader community.
  • Trauma-informed principles to implement within a house of worship:
    • Safety –  Create a private, safe environment and set a positive tone through interactions.
    • Trustworthiness and transparency – Build trusted and transparent relationships without judgment.
    • Peer support – Social networks and support are necessary for transformative impact.
    • Empowerment, voice, and choice – It’s important to recognize and build upon the individual’s ability to make their own decisions.
    • Cultural, historical, gender issues – Be mindful of racial, ethnic, gender, and cultural past traumas and present needs of individuals.
  • There is value in alerting law enforcement of a possible human trafficking situation, rather than personally intervening, in order to prevent causing more harm to the victim and allowing professionals to take the appropriate measures moving forward.


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Dave: [00:00:01] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 184, A Toolkit for Faith-Based Communities.

Production Credits: [00:00:08] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave: [00:00:29] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: [00:00:34] And my name is Sandie Morgan.

Dave: [00:00:37] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, so many people we’ve had on this program over the last gosh it’s almost over seven years now that we featured that have been such wonderful partners in the work that we’re doing and the work that you’re doing. And today another wonderful partner who has been a long-term friend of yours and someone who’s been a big supporter of the work that we’re all trying to do. So, I’m glad we get to welcome Nicole today.

Sandie: [00:01:12] Yes. And Nicole comes to us with when I first met her, she was actually part of the leadership of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking and then she left us and is now the program advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. It’s a center of the White House Office of Faith and Opportunity. And Nicole’s service as a subject matter expert and strategist and communication outreach on meeting the needs of survivors of disasters and human trafficking domestically and internationally. And she works with senior-level officials and the broader community on the traumatic impacts, underlying causes, how to prevent the harms of human trafficking and natural and man-made disasters. So, her work on training and technical assistance and public awareness resources for the faith and community leaders is what we’re here to talk about today. So welcome to the show, Nicole.

Nicole: [00:02:18] Thank you, Dr. Morgan, and thank you for extending the invitation to join in today.

Sandie: [00:02:22] So over the last few months we’ve had email exchanges because you were getting ready to release the final edition of this toolkit for faith-based communities. And you put a lot of work and resources into developing something simple and I think I want people to understand that simply takes more time than just pulling together and copy and pasting a lot of stats. So, I just want to start by applauding your dedication to this project.

Nicole: [00:02:55] Thank you. It took a lot of collaborative work with other colleagues throughout the Department of Homeland Security and am certainly grateful even for the reviewers. We had faith leaders, community leaders, survivors, subject matter experts who equally have provided their time in the review of this document. So, this was truly a unified approach in the review and development of this document so grateful for everyone who helped make it possible.

Sandie: [00:03:21] And I think that’s one of the things I like about your leadership style. Nicole, you are very collaborative and there’s always room at the table for somebody else. I appreciate that. So, let’s start off with why was there a need to develop a specific toolkit like this?

Nicole: [00:03:39] In my years of training and providing technical assistance alongside you, Dr. Morgan, among other colleagues in the field so many faith leaders have come up to me and said you know you’re sharing a lot of complex information. I’m doing so much already as a faith leader or you know my plate runneth over if you will with issues and content being put at me. You know I really would appreciate some very succinct, practical tips and tools that could help me as a faith leader. And I’ve also heard the need that recognizing not just when you do know the signs but what it is. And I kind of have a sense of what it is but I recognize people coming to me and needing resources and they’ve had traumatic experiences. It may not have been trafficking yet but maybe I could be part of the solution of preventing harm. But if I didn’t know the signs or maybe when they’re talking to me about domestic violence situation and or mom or dad is not at home or some other traumatic experiences that they may be experiencing as an adult or child that maybe that could clue me in that I need to make a particular effort to not allow further harm to that individual. And so, for that reason and hearing about this throughout the years, I said we need to do a better job in communicating messaging and communicating something that’ll be practical, actionable, usable for our faith leaders.

Sandie: [00:05:10] Wow. Practical, actionable, usable. Those are great goals. And I kind of want to front-load our conversation with the end of this little tool kit packet. In the end, it talks about observing human trafficking awareness month. And of course, we see different versions of that every year the presidential proclamation last year was for human trafficking prevention and slavery month. And so, there are some suggestions. And so, as we look through this packet together I really want our listeners to think about how they can take some of these messaging resources that are actionable, doable, usable and implement them in a strategy to do something. In January, it’s just a couple months away. And that’s one of the goals of doing this right now when we’re doing it here on our podcast.

Nicole: [00:06:14] Excellent.

[00:06:15] What is the role of a faith-based organization in combating human trafficking?

Nicole: [00:06:22] I will start first, Dr. Morgan, by sharing what I see as a faith leader. The reason I want to start there is because sometimes we only see one perspective of who the faith leader is, and I think it’s so important that we lift up really the incredible characteristics which they bring and why it’s important to the faith community. I see the faith leader as a trusted messenger and it’s a force multiplier. So, when we’re talking about this issue in that we have to have this built-in trust, that what they’re sharing and what they’re sharing weekly when they may be seeing their congregants that is going to be a message of encouragement, of hope, and hopefully opportunity to engage with them where they might be in a hurting world. So that to me is very important. We see them also as cultural keep holders, understanding from a cultural standpoint the diversity within our country and around the world. And so again knowing that value and what it means to be a trusted messenger in their communities and providers of care and counseling we know that to be true is because why we want to focus so much around trauma. The importance of understanding that there engage with people each and every day in the lives of so many people. And so again we need to recognize them that they’re caring about a whole person and wanted to tool them in that regard. They’re equally investors of our community. We see them also as first responders if you will. But also, they’re the CEO and recognizing they are leaders within their own group of people, within their congregations, within their houses of worship. And so, as a leader it is so important that we equip them with the tools they need to be successful. And so, this is why it’s important because I really wanted to be intentional of knowing the great characteristics and aspects of a faith leader. What they bring to their congregants, what they bring to the broader community and when they’re tooled with the resources they need to be successful, I believe the community’s success and our nation is even better. Right? So, we have to recognize the role of the individual and the power they bring as a force multiplier and trusted messenger.

Sandie: [00:08:40] I’m imagining myself driving down the road listening to a podcast and wanting to pull over and write down those descriptors because they’re so powerful and I just want to remind our listeners those will be in the show notes so you can go to endinghumantrafficking.org and click on this podcast, number 184 and we’ll have those notes for you. So just be assured you’re not going to lose that. I think the opposite of this is what happens when faith-based leaders that have so much influence don’t know these things and don’t follow best practice. Are there risks?

Nicole: [00:09:21] There are a lot of risks and that is why within this document we talked about the importance of having trauma-informed principles that can be implemented within your house of worship. And again, we’re not here to dictate by no means, but we’re sharing some principles that can be helpful. And we’re talking about the wholeness in the well-being of individuals who serve. And within this document, we kind of highlight five principles and these principles are actually from content and from the support of the HHS partnerships, the Department of Health and Human Services. But then there’s SAMHSA, which stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. So, we adopted a lot of their language and adopted them so that it could be used as it relates to human trafficking. So, let’s highlight some of these five areas that we thought would be helpful for a faith leader because we don’t want to cause further harm and that is what’s so key when you want to be trauma responsive to an individual who’s had any form of traumatic experience. And so, we know a traumatic experience can be a one-time event. It could be something that someone has experienced that has caused a serious threat or harm to that individual. And we also know that traumatic events can be long-term, especially those that experience any form of abuse. These are the verbal, or physical, or neglect that is ongoing experiences that an individual has. So those experiences would be a first time, one-time experience, or even long term. We don’t want to cause further harm from that individual.

Nicole: [00:10:55] So here are some five key areas that we talk about. We talk about safety creating a safe space in an environment is so important. The physical setting that is private, that a person feels that promoting a sense of safety or security when they’re connected with an individual. You know we also know that our tone, our delivery, a posture of humility can make a difference in creating a safe environment. We highlight the importance of having trustworthiness and transparency. Again, as a faith leader, I just highlighted the importance that they are trusted messengers. But we want to also make sure that not just are you trusted but become in a posture without judgment. It’s so easy for us to not remember that unfortunately sometimes individuals who have been in desperate situations may make decisions that we may pass a judgment upon but we have to be very careful of that because within ourselves we reflect on ourselves there are times in life where we have done things where we ourselves have to make a decision say hey you know I didn’t make the best decision at that time and we have to remember that’s part of our emotional response.

Sandie: [00:12:03] I think that’s a really important part of the reflective process in a trauma-informed response. We aren’t just looking at the person sitting in front of us, but we have to look at ourselves because we don’t even realize that our posture, our tone can be communicating victim blaming, like well if you hadn’t been there this wouldn’t have happened. Those aren’t the kinds of messages that we want to communicate in a trauma-informed response. And that’s something that for a faith leader is a message that can be part of their weekly communication with their congregants. And it applies way beyond just the human trafficking, but it can apply to situations in our communities where youth are homeless, are running away from family violence, those kinds of issues. So, this idea of transparency and being trusted without judgment. That’s a big piece. That was like number two on your list of five things.

Nicole: [00:13:16] Yeah. Yes, I know. I feel like I could talk on and on about this, but I am very passionate about these things. About peer support, we all know that we can’t do anything by yourself. That’s why social networks are so important. So, it’s important that we see that we are connecting that individual will come alongside them. Especially anyone who is experiencing any form of long-term trauma, having those social networks and those social supports is transforming. It encourages you when you’re down if someone can pick up the call and say Hey do you want to take a walk. Someone would say hey I cook dinner; do you want to come on over. It’s the small things that really are making a transformative impact on individual lives. So again, the importance of coming alongside with peer support.

Sandie: [00:14:03] That’s part of the culture in a community a religious community eating together, and going and doing things together, and working on projects together so that has a natural climate to support that peer to peer relationship when people are seeking safety and are entering into a recovery phase from the trauma. What’s the number four?

Nicole: [00:14:33] Number four focuses on empowerment, voice, and choice. The importance of recognizing and building upon the individual’s ability to make their own decisions. The ability to have a choice where they may not have had choices before. As simple as saying what kind of clothes would you like to buy, what would you like to wear, what is important to you, what are some of your short term and long-term goals that we can come alongside you and support you. Again, the importance of valuing one’s feelings, one’s thoughts, and one’s ability to kind of take incremental steps toward their wholeness. And so again wanting to support individuals in that process is so important.

Sandie: [00:15:18] I’ve seen how people have implemented this idea of choice in some really simple ways. For instance, a lot of our faith community put together backpacks for survivors and things and actually instead of having all one dark color, having a variety of colors and just that initial impact of being able to choose my favorite color is orange or my favorite color is red, and you have one that is so empowering. And then it starts to build on that sense that I do get to make a choice.

Nicole: [00:15:58] Exactly. And I think sometimes we don’t even learn that until we’re present. I think that goes back to that whole peer support and we’re talking about a ministry of presence. Being present to give that individual voice they hear about all the things they love and what’s their favorite and to be able to support them and then allow them to have the choice that has those things that they otherwise may not have had. And so, thank you for lifting that up. And the last piece is around cultural, historical, and gender issues. We have to be mindful of kind of some of the historical and cultural traumas that an individual may have experienced, those situations could be related to an individual who has been discriminated based upon their race or ethnicity, even those have experience around gender-based violence. So important to be mindful of those things. Important to be sensitive to those things. And important that again going back to the issue of being nonjudgmental as we’re supporting individuals in the fullness that we all are created in recognizing all of our experiences. So again, those are kind of the five areas that we talk about the importance of having trauma-informed principles that can be implemented within your house of worship.

Sandie: [00:17:20] And didn’t you identify these faith leaders as cultural key holders?

Nicole: [00:17:28] I did.

Sandie: [00:17:30] Yeah. That’s very exciting for me because I’m a novice when I go into for instance an Asian community and I need somebody to help me figure out how to transfer my knowledge in a way that will be acceptable and easy to communicate in that community. So, I may be a subject matter expert, but I may not speak the cultural language.

Nicole: [00:17:57] Exactly. And I think that’s such an incredible value to have. But in that cultural context, to understand a perspective that an individual may have or even their experiences as it relates to some cultural norms that have taken place, that may have caused harm to that individual, and how we can be sensitive to making sure that we’re part of the full recovery even within culture. And so, we have to be honest with ourselves, as you said a lot of self-reflection but also nonjudgmental at least how we can best serve those who have indeed may have been hurt by cultural norms or practices. And that to me again is part of the faith leader’s role.

Sandie: [00:18:35] And in this packet because it is delivered in such a succinct and clear way. We are looking at three kinds of human trafficking sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude. And I think that in our broader media there’s been a lot of focus on sex trafficking and very little on labor. And so, one of the ways that I saw how you’re integrating more practical approaches to understanding and identifying labor trafficking, you talked about procurement and how does that work in a faith community?

Nicole: [00:19:17] I’m glad you asked that. When we talk about procurement, what we’re really talking about all the goods, or the services, or work that the faith leader or the house of worship may purchase in order to have things work within a house of worship. And so, we have to be mindful of the business user, making sure that we’re hiring individuals who have good practices as it relates to individuals who they’re hiring. One such tool that we are using in the federal government that was developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, is called Sweat and Toil. Again, Sweat and Toil. I just want to make sure we spelled that out. You can download it either on Apple to the app store or on Google Play and it’s an incredible app that helps you to look at products that have been produced by child labor or forced labor. So, you can actually go online and actually do the research and see where some of the products that have been made and to make sure that when your house of worship was making a purchase that you’re not purchasing anything that has been connected to either a child labor or forced labor. So again, this is an incredible tool that is available for free. And it has lots of other information that can be used around the world allowing to look in different countries and some of the walls. And again, a great resource.

Sandie: [00:20:45] It’s one of my favorite apps. I have it on my phone and I think that because I’ve been an active part of a faith community and I’ve been part of the team trying to make things fit as a budget and we sometimes fall into this scarcity mentality and don’t realize that our choices impact someone else. I’m really proud of our Live2Free club here at Vanguard because they took the initiative went through the process to certify our university as a fair-trade environment so that these questions are being asked. And it’s not perfect but it is a start towards that kind of procurement strategy where our choices are actually reducing the demand for slave-made products. And I was just in Madrid last week and saw some friends from Argentina, and they reminded me that on that app which that app is the codification of thousands of pages of research and you have it right there on your phone and it’s available for an iPhone or Android either one. And so, they reminded me that when I appear in California I’m buying blueberries offseason that there are children in Argentina who are in forced labor so that those blueberries show up on my shelf. Wow. Then we’re not going to have blueberry muffins at our potluck. We’ll do something else. And I think those are the kinds of conversations that we can start at just a basic shopping level for resources. And it then makes an impact on our trustworthiness and our integrity and that’s what we want in our faith communities.

Nicole: [00:22:43] And I believe that I think it’s wonderful to hear that about Vanguard University. And I think that to me it’s an incredible witness to others about what your students have done. I think it’s incredible.

Sandie: [00:22:53] Let me ask you one more question. Can you focus on the four points about what to do and not do?

Nicole: [00:23:01] Yes in this document what we did try to do is the focus on once we recognize what are the signs of trafficking and we try to highlight some of those things, we did also want to make sure that people knew what to do. I can’t tell you how many times people say I know I saw something, but I just didn’t know what to do with what I’m seeing. So, let’s just highlight quickly some of the four areas that are important to do. The most important thing is to remember that not at any time you want to confront someone who you think could be trafficking someone else involved in a criminal activity. But the important thing is to alert of course law enforcement or security who can then respond accordingly. So again, number one we don’t want to intervene to cause even further harm to ourselves, so I know that sounds like common sense. Everyone I’m sure knows that, but it is important.

Sandie: [00:23:58] It’s a conversation we’ve had on this show many times because sometimes really well-meaning people just want to do rescue and they don’t realize the risk that they put themselves in. But even more importantly, because I know they’re selfless, they put the victim at risk as well and possibly bystanders. And unbeknownst to many people there are undercover investigations going on and sometimes our faith community leaders have disrupted an ongoing investigation and we’ve lost the time, the man-hours, and the resources, tens of thousands of dollars, and lost the ability to capture a trafficker and to free a victim.

Nicole: [00:24:46] A great point is if that is what we appreciate you highlighting and making that point because we really just want to encourage people to allow law enforcement to do their part and as citizens, we’re actually doing our part. I think it’s important to find value in picking up the phone call and calling law enforcement or speaking to security with that who’s closest to you. There is value in that, that you alerted the attention and that they can take the appropriate measures and move it forward. So, you kind of always see your part in the whole. Sometimes we feel like we have to be the whole pie, but we don’t, we can be that piece of the pie. That part that’s supporting the whole process of responding to criminal activity and this is what it is. So again, as you said we don’t want to overstep ourselves causing harm to ourselves to others or to the individual who’s being victimized. So, with that said we always know of course to call 911, in the case when we see this. As I said before law enforcement so there’s an option for you to call the US Department of Homeland Security. If you are seeing suspicious criminal activity and you want to report it to federal law enforcement, know that you can do this confidentially that number is 1-866-347-2423. Another option that you do have is if there’s an individual whom you may be seeking to help or they themselves are a victim you can always contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline which can provide you not just for reporting about a victim or needing victim services but even information within your community if you’re looking for social service organizations where you can help directly support them or even to support you in the work that you’re doing. There’s a variety of resources that the human trafficking hotline number does provide. And so again we encourage you again you can report there as well and want to give that number to everyone. And again, it says 1-888-3737-888. You can also text help or info to be-free, and the number for that is 23-3733.

Sandie: [00:27:13] I love the fact that you can text now because this generation doesn’t make phone calls, they text. And so be-free is a great thing to have already on your phone. Well we’re wrapping up here and I do want people to know that our faith community are some of the most prolific volunteers in our communities and in the toolkit there is a link to a national human trafficking referral directory for a list of service providers in your area and that is a great way, don’t start your own program unless you know you’ve done all the research and the homework and you know how to make it sustainable. Start by volunteering was someone who is already doing this who has already recognized in the anti-human trafficking area and has already been certified for providing resources to victims. Nicole, this is such a great conversation. I love this toolkit. I want people to go to the website and download it. The link will be on our show notes and sit down with your community and start planning some way to integrate at least one item from this for national human trafficking prevention and awareness month in January 2019. Nicole, keep producing great resources and opportunities and we appreciate your leadership, your perseverance in this really difficult area.

Nicole: [00:28:51] Thank you, Dr. Morgan, again I appreciate you and the opportunity to come with you all today. And just to let you know just today the Spanish translation was just completed. So, it is yet to be uploaded to the website, but it will be soon. So, I just want to let everyone know that this document is going to be available in both English and Spanish.

Sandie: [00:29:10] Oh that’s great. What if a faith community wanted to take the leadership on providing a translation in their language, like in Southern California we have a really large Vietnamese population. Would that be something that faith community could come alongside your office to help produce?

Nicole: [00:29:30] I would welcome that conversation and we would work alongside the DHS Blue campaign to share that opportunity. So yes, let’s have the conversation, let’s talk about it as we want to make sure that this is in the hands of those that can best use it and certainly want to make sure that it is acceptable, usable across this nation. So, however, we can be supportive and however you all can be, we welcome to getting the word out and to support you. So, thank you, Dr. Morgan, again.

Sandie: [00:29:57] I love the collaboration. Thanks, Nicole, we’ll talk again soon.

Dave: [00:30:01] Sandie and Nicole, thank you for a great conversation. Sandie, we’ve had a number of things come out in this conversation that is excellent resources as we always try to bring into every one of these episodes. And also, the reminder that sometimes our good intentions can go awry if we’re not really educated on studying these issues, so we can ultimately make a difference. And there are so many wonderful resources that are available from this episode if you find them on the show notes for episode 184. And maybe you’re listening for the first time and if you are, in addition to the resources we’ve mentioned today, you may want to take the very first step in figuring out what are the five key things you need to know. And I would invite you online to download a copy of Sandie’s book, The Five Things You Must Know, a Quick Start Guide to Ending Human Trafficking. The guide will teach you the five critical things that Sandie and the Global Center for Women and Justice have identified that you should know before you join the fight against human trafficking. Those five things will really help you to lay the foundation, you can get instant access to the guide by visiting us at endinghumantrafficking.org. That is also where you will find the show notes, not only for this episode but every episode. So, you can search through the archives. And if you haven’t already, get March 1st and 2nd 2019 on your calendar, that is the date for the next Ensure Justice conference. You can learn more at ensurejustice.com. And we will be back in two weeks with our next conversation. Thanks, Sandie.

Sandie: [00:31:43] Thanks, Dave.

Dave: [00:31:44] Have a great week, everyone.

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