God of the trafficked: Kaitlyn heads to Cambodia with Hagar International
Kaitlyn Bunz is eighteen, hails from The Salvation Army Sydenham Corps and is changing the lives of survivors of human trafficking. Today, she leaves for Cambodia with friend and mentor Tracy Boon, to see first-hand what her months of fundraising are doing for anti human-trafficking advocates Hagar.
Kaitlyn first spoke this message to a group of young adult women at The Salvation Army Women's Ministries' She Speaks event held in Christchurch.
‘God has equipped me with a passion for caring for people, giving me enough confidence to raise awareness by talking at events like this or at school and church. God has placed people in my life to help with opportunities to talk and raise money for Hagar.’
Kaitlyn Bunz is a passionate speaker and formidable advocate. At eighteen years old, her fundraising efforts and determination to end human trafficking has earned her a spot as a Hagar International Youth Abolitionist. She jokes, ‘It’s not to abolish youth! It’s to abolish human trafficking!’ Together, Kaitlyn and her mentor Tracy Boon will be flying out to Cambodia today, to join Hagar's work with survivors for a week.
A message of hope through Hagar
‘The goal is for each individual to be a champion for change in their own life and in the community.'
Kaitlyn says hearing Hagar advocate Sarah Scott-Webb speak at The Salvation Army's Her Freedom Song justice conference in 2017 awoke this passion for ending human trafficking. ‘As I heard Sarah talk about the awful realities many people in the world are facing, it made me very mad and I wanted to do something about it.'
Hagar is named for the woman who was a slave to Abraham and Sarah in the Bible, and was cast off into the wilderness when she became pregnant by her master. Alone, afraid and with no-one to help her, God intervened. Kaitlyn says that 'Hagar is an international organisation that helps reintegrate people who have been rescued from human trafficking and slavery', whose networks and programs support survivors, in recovering from the severe trauma of slavery, trafficking, and/or abuse. ‘The goal is for each individual to be a champion for change in their own life and in the community.'
Youth Abolitionist to venture to Cambodia today
Each year Hagar chooses twenty-seven Year 12 and Year 13 students throughout New Zealand to become Youth Abolitionists, who 'raise awareness, funds and be passionate to helping the cause of Hagar.’ Kaitlyn was selected and asked to fundraise $2000 for Hagar's counselling team based in Cambodia. From massage nights to running 27km in a wedding dress to symbolise the fact that someone is being trafficked every 27 seconds, Kaitlyn ended up raising $5000!
‘I have had many different generous people that wanted to help me by raising more than the $2000 goal. I think that knowing that the money I raised has gone to help many women and children is just so amazing.'
The Salvation Army Sydenham’s Whanau Worker Tracy Boon has partnered with Kaitlyn throughout this journey of advocacy and will be flying with to Cambodia with her today. 'I wouldn’t be in this position now if I didn’t have my family and friends, my church family and especially Tracy.’
Once in Cambodia, they will meet the Hagar staff, a foster family helping survivors reintegrate back into society and a doctor who was a victim of human trafficking. They will be paying respects at the Killing Fields and other important sites in Cambodia’s history, as well as completing a 10km walk/run half-marathon to raise money for people whose lives have been devastated by landmines. 'I can’t believe that I have impacted other people’s lives for the better. I am so fortunate to be able to go over and meet some of those people and see the work first-hand.'
Human trafficking statistics
- 40.3 million people are estimated to be living in slavery right now, more than at any other time in history
- 25% of them are children
- 62% are in Asia
- At least a third are women
- 87% of Afghan women have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence
- It is estimated that those involved in human trafficking all together approximately earn $150 billion U.S dollars a year
- It is this operation that is now the second-largest criminal industry in the world, after drugs and is growing significantly quickly
God of the humans who are trafficked
We asked Kaitlyn if she thinks God wants us all to care about ending human trafficking. Her reply? ‘Why wouldn’t he? These people are being forced to do the unspeakable. They have no freedom to live a normal life. They have no free will and God wants us to have free will. The people committing these awful crimes are making so much money and are deceiving many poor families.’
If you feel inspired reading Kaitlyn’s story, she asks that you would learn more about Hagar, partner with them in fundraising and spread the word. ‘If you hear about someone doing a Hagar fundraiser then give them what you can, whether that is time or money.’ Finally, Kaitlyn asks that we could ‘pray for safety, blessings, wonderful opportunities and memories, and especially for our connecting flight out of Hong Kong.’
If you would like to write a comment or prayer for Kaitlyn that she can read while overseas, head over to the article on The Salvation Army Women's Ministries Facebook Page and encourage her!