Exhibit shines spotlight on human trafficking and slavery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Exhibit shines spotlight on human trafficking and slavery

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It's a scary statistic: 91 cities in the United States have had reports of human trafficking.

That's one of the issues that's led to an estimated 27 million slaves around the world today.

They're issues you don't hear about every day. So when organizers of the Journey to Freedom exhibit at Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls learned about it, they wanted to do something.

"We wanted to create an exhibit where people could not only read the real stories of real people -- real men, real women who are stuck in this issue, stuck in this injustice -- but we wanted to help you experience their world and feel it," said Diana Mescher, Prairie Lakes Church college coordinator. 

The result is a walk through trafficking, highlighting the depth of modern-day slavery.

"What got to me the most is that it's so widespread," said Kaitlin Lundeen, Journey to Freedom project manager. "There's so many people; it's not just numbers. There are actual stories, and stories of people right here in the Cedar Valley, right here in the U.S., and all around the world."

Through seven different stations, visitors learn the stories of slaves from around the world, including here in eastern Iowa.

"Right here in our home, children are being abducted and children are being preyed upon, all for the sake of being exploited and taken advantage of," said Mescher.

Organizers hope to show people how widespread and commonplace human trafficking is.

"When you're sitting at a coffee shop or at a grocery store and you just notice something that's a little bit different, you can learn to become aware and learn who to call and learn how to say, 'Maybe something not right's happening here,'" said Mescher. "We can all take care of the people in our community."

The exhibit will be on display at the church through Thursday. For hours, click here.

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