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BYUH student founded organization to fight human trafficking

lillian martino fahodie.jpg

BYU-Hawaii athlete, Lillian Martino, held a seminar on campus Feb. 25 to discuss her non-profit organization, Fahodie for Friends, which focuses on helping the survivors of human trafficking recover and lead a better life. Martino shared that human trafficking is the second largest illegal industry in the world, behind the drug trade, making a profit of approximately $32 billion a year. Martino also stated there are between 14,000 and 17,000 slaves in the United States alone. The audience was also surprised to hear the average slave is sold for around $90. Martino noted the three main divisions of human trafficking are sex, labor and the harvesting of organs.Tonga Sablan, a senior majoring in international cultural studies from Washington, shared his thoughts: “I think this seminar was eye-opening for the university. I think BYUH shelters us and this opens our eyes and gives us motivation to want to do something.”Martino shared her backstory, and the reason why she started this non-profit organization. Martino is from Ghana, where human trafficking is common, and she was adopted at the age of 3 by a young couple in Utah. This illegal activity could have affected her personally, given that she was in the position to be sold herself. Another source of inspiration for Martino that prompted her to start Fahodie for Friends was an experience with a young man named Enoch. She said, “He was the first individual that I found out about who had fallen into being in the human trafficking industry. This started me to help raise funds for him and help him have what he needed to be successful. This started all of my work in West Africa.”Fahodie for Friends has a safe house in Ghana where 20 survivors of human trafficking reside. This safe house gives the survivors a place to live and the education needed to create a better life. The organization is also working on a second safe house to be built in West Africa, said Martino. Fahodie for Friends focuses on prevention, prosecution, protection and partnership, said Martino. Prevention is achieved by bringing awareness about human trafficking and prosecution by making sure the traffickers pay the consequences of their actions. Further, Fahodie for Friends stands for protection by creating safe houses for the survivors and partnership by promoting unity. Kalesita Anitema, a junior majoring in history from Maui, said, “I am shocked at the numbers, especially from the U.S.A. This has given me way more awareness and inspired me to do something. I also have a sense of appreciation for [Martino’s] work.” Martino shared a few of the goals she has in mind for the future of Fahodie for Friends, saying, “It has always been a goal of mine to expand the organization worldwide. I am driven and I want the big picture. But for now, I just want to expand and I want to be able to create different safe houses in West African countries.”“I want to start doing more work in the U.S.,” Martino continued, “I want to grow and move forward with the safe houses and be able to provide the environment necessary for human trafficking survivors to create what they need to be successful.”Martino invites everyone to be involved in this organization. More information on how to be a part of Fahodie for Friends can be found on the Facebook page “Fahodie for Friends- Freedom,” or the organization’s website, Uploaded March 5, 2015
Writer: Alyssa Troyanek