By Grace Arneberg
University of Wisconsin–Stout has a new team of activists on campus: Force For Freedom, a human trafficking awareness group that is teaming up with International Justice Mission.
“Human trafficking really is modern day slavery,” said Alyson Kehn, UW–Stout junior and vice president of Force For Freedom. “Our goal is to speak up for those trapped in slavery who have no voice. We want to raise our voices for them; we want to give a voice to the voiceless.”
After seeing a showing of “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls”last spring, a documentary which exposes the reality of modern day slavery around the world, Kehn was struck with the reality that those affected are actually real people—not just a number. It is also an issue that is happening locally, not just globally.
College students don’t have a lot of money to give away, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help the cause. Force For Freedom is more about lending one’s voice and time. According to Kehn, one of the biggest problems is that people don’t even know that human trafficking is an issue, so raising awareness is the first step.
Kehn, along with UW–Stout senior and current Force For Freedom President Abbie Brandhagan, started talking last year about forming a group. They then recruited UW–Stout students Aaron Johnson, Jess Mathison and Grace Kreibich, who make up the current leadership board of the organization.
Last April, they took part in “I stand for freedom” day as an unofficial organization, where they held up signs and had people sign a petition on behalf of IJM, receiving around 250 to 300 signatures. “We just thought, ‘you know what? Let’s just do this,’ and stood between Jarvis Hall and the Memorial Student Center,” said Kehn.
“We’re all kind of working together, really,” said Kehn. “We’re just a group of people with a similar passion. We’re not going to be those crazy picketers around campus. There are a lot of different things we can do to make a difference.”
In only a few days, the group hit over 100 likes on their Facebook page and got over 40 email addresses at the Backyard Bash. The group is excited to see how they will grow in the near future. Although it is difficult at first. “You’re really putting yourself out there and you have no idea how people are going to react,” commented Kehn on starting a new organization.
The organization is still in the planning process, but has a few ideas for awareness and fundraising events for the upcoming year.
“The best thing I can say to describe our organization right now is that we’re just a group of people who are looking for other creative, enthusiastic people who want to help make an impact,” said Kehn. “We want their ideas. We want their creativity. We want them to work with us to make this organization thrive on campus.”
For information and updates about the group, visit and “like” UW–Stout Force For Freedom’s Facebook page. To learn more about human trafficking, visit International Justice Mission’s website at http://www.ijm.org