Interview: "Our Future Of Change" Founders on The Fight Against Human Trafficking
Youth for Positive Change talked to Isabel and Lauren of Our Future Of Change about the inspiration behind setting up their org. and the importance of standing up against human trafficking.
Hi Abigail and Lauren! Can you start off by explaining to our readers what Our Future of Change is and why you started it?
Our Future of Change is the global, youth-led chapter of Her Future Coalition or HFC. HFC is an organization that provides education and employment programs to trafficking survivors in India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Thailand. We started volunteering for HFC through our school’s club chapter when we were 15, and after being elected co-presidents during our junior year, we started an initiative to extend HFC’s mission to other schools in our communities by collaborating with local organizations against trafficking.
When school was closed because of COVID-19, we knew that we wanted to find a way to continue supporting HFC from a distance. However, we noticed that there were no large-scale student-led movements against trafficking that we could get involved in. Identifying this as an issue, we decided to start a program that would encourage students to take action against trafficking by raising awareness in their communities. With the help of the HFC leadership team, we co-founded Our Future of Change. Our Future of Change has thus far recruited a team of over 190 ambassadors in 6 continents who are combating the mindset that one cannot make a difference against trafficking.
You are currently looking for global ambassadors for your org. Can you explain what the role of a global ambassador entails and how those who are interested can get involved?
Our ambassador program provides students around the world with an opportunity to get involved in anti-trafficking activism. There are various opportunities that ambassadors can take on within Our Future of Change in order to support our mission, including joining one of our committees or starting a school club chapter. We have four committees that focus on outreach, design, news, or virtual event planning. The outreach committee helps us to gain publicity; the design committee designs our social media, handbooks and website; the news committee writes articles for our webpage and the event planning committee helps us to plan virtual events. Ambassadors who are interested in becoming club presidents can start an Our Future of Change club at their school to fundraise to support the programs which HFC offers survivors, as well as to spread our message into their communities. If anyone out there is interested in becoming an ambassador, you can apply through the link in our Instagram bio (@ourfutureofchange) or visit ourfutureofchange.org and visit the “Get Involved” Page.
What is one action students can take during lockdown to help raise awareness of human trafficking?
Two simple things students can do during lockdown to help raise awareness for human trafficking is first researching its prevalence and root causes, and second using their knowledge to educate others. Students can also participate and support programs such as HFC and Our Future of Change by getting involved in our mission, attending events, and potentially donating to support the programs. Students can also join our ambassador program and spread word of our cause in their local communities!
Could you give us some insight into other initiatives Our Future of Change will be taking part in post-lockdown?
Our Future of Change has been able to grow on an international scale, reaching over 25 countries in 6 continents. Because of this, we plan on continuing to make use of a virtual format even post-lockdown so that we can connect with students across the world. However, we are also looking forward to planning in-person events in communities across the world which will educate on trafficking and potentially raise money to support the programs which HFC offers survivors. This will help spread the word to more students that they can make a difference against trafficking, even if it is small. We are also looking forward to seeing the development of school and local Our Future of Change club chapters. The HFC Club that we participate in has helped us learn so much over the years, and we are grateful that Our Future of Change has been able to inspire other students to start a similar club.
Finally, what are some other anti-trafficking resources/orgs we should check out to learn more?
We would like to mention that for more information on Our Future of Change, you can find us at @ourfutureofchange on Instagram and ourfutureofchange.org. You can read more about HFC by visiting @herfuturecoalition on Twitter and https://herfuturecoalition.org. The founder of HFC, Sarah Symons, has also written an amazing book, This is No Ordinary Joy, on her experiences with starting HFC and learning about trafficking. Some other resources which may be helpful are the Polaris Project and End Slavery Now websites. We are trying to post educational resources on our website and Instagram often, so keeping up-to-date with our page may also help you discover new resources to learn more about trafficking.
BIOGRAPHY 1: Lauren Bridgwater is a rising senior in high school in Massachusetts. She became passionate about anti-trafficking activism when she joined the Her Future Club at her school and learned about the many ways to fight against trafficking. Lauren enjoys reading, playing the piano, and acting and hopes to help empower gender-violence victims through Our Future of Change.
BIOGRAPHY 2: Abigail Jones is a rising high school senior based in Massachusetts. She first learned that students have the capacity to make a difference in human rights issues by participating in her school's Her Future Club, and she hopes to inspire other students in a similar way through OFOC. Outside of this program, she enjoys abstract painting, writing, and collaborating with staff members on her student-activism magazine "Read This."