Eagles against human trafficking

Senior Susannah Sherwood promotes awareness to fight human trafficking.

Eagles against human trafficking

Despite a high concentration of wealth within Orange County, a quick Google search shows that Orange County is one of the worst counties in California when it comes to the lucrative and grossly under-reported business of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to use another human being for one’s own profit,” said Susannah Sherwood, president and founder of the Eagles Against Human Trafficking club. “It’s definitely an issue that doesn’t get enough coverage in general, but especially with people our age, and if we want to make a meaningful impact, we have to start thinking about it as people are going into their future careers.”

Sherwood, a member of the Junior State of America and writer for online magazine Germ, has been involved with the club since her sophomore year, and first became passionate about human rights during a “24-Hour Justice Initiative” through her church.

“[The 24-Hour Justice Initiative is an] international organization [that] focuses on human trafficking from a Christian perspective,” Sherwood said.

For a full day and night, she and other members sat down to discuss and share their thoughts on the issue.

“If people are somewhat educated on the topic, they tend to think, you know, third world countries and sweatshops,” Sherwood said. “That’s absolutely a thing and it’s terrible, but even here in Orange County, it’s still an immense issue.”

She emphasizes the importance of constant awareness of one’s surroundings. Even still, some are at higher risk than others.

“In theory, anyone can [be at risk]. However, that is to ignore the fact that this is an issue that disproportionately affects minority communities, socioeconomically disadvantaged people, and those from bad home situations,” Sherwood said. “Santa Ana, Harbor Boulevard…has had a reputation for [trafficking], for years.”

Eagles Against Human Trafficking works to not only educate high school students on local trafficking and safety measures; the club also provides help for nearby survivors.

“We really believe that the first step is prevention and awareness,” Sherwood said, “because it’s not something that people talk about. We want to open up that dialogue on SM’s campus. [Eagles Against Human Trafficking has] had fundraisers in the past, and we are going to do some direct relief in the form of aftercare packages for local survivors.”

When it comes to involvement, Sherwood asserts that she will continue to pursue her humanitarian interests in college, and possibly beyond. But with less than a year left at Santa Margarita, she encourages others to continue the legacy.

“[Even] if you don’t think you have the organizational skills and experience to get involved, we want to keep this going for as long as possible,” Sherwood said.