As a student at the University of San Francisco some 20 years ago, Mark Wexler was shocked to read an article in the local paper about forced labor and human trafficking happening in the Bay Area. The article described how 550 women and girls had been brought from India into the Bay Area to work in restaurants and fruit and vegetable fields, and serve as domestics – and weren’t paid for it. “I was stunned. I wondered how in the world that could happen in our own backyard,” he said.
Wexler, the co-founder of Not For Sale, a non-profit organization that works to end human trafficking, visited O’Dowd on March 7 to talk about the organization’s efforts and thank students for supporting Not For Sale through the Mission Drive.
He shared some sobering statistics – 40-46 million people are enslaved today and $150 billion is made off of forced labor and human trafficking – as well as detailed Not For Sale efforts to combat this appalling problem. “The only crime that makes more money is the illegal drug trade,” he said.
Since 2007, Not For Sale has served nearly 25,000 people and today has eight projects in nine countries, feeding, housing and educating people affected by human trafficking and forced labor. Wexler showed the students several videos detailing their work in some of these countries.
In 2010, Not For Sale started building REBBL (a natural, organic beverage made with the herb Cat’s Claw which is found in the Amazon), an innovative, sustainable, market-based solution to prevent exploitation in the Peruvian Amazon.
“We decided to choose this particular organization because of their promise that our contributions would have a lasting impact instead of a superficial one,” Campus Ministry Team member Nikhila Rao said. “Not for Sale feeds, houses and educates people who have been affected by human trafficking. But they do not stop there. They are committed to the personal growth of the people they serve making sure they can independently support themselves and help others going through similar experiences.”