Trafficking awareness focus of fundraiser

Rusty Havens, a local advocate for victims of trafficking, is working to raise funds so he and a team of volunteers can produce pamphlets and training materials and get them to people who may be able to recognize and help those in danger.

“The training, some of which will be aimed at hotel employees, will help to ensure trafficking victims are rescued and that trafficking stops at our hotels,” Havens said. “We will have training books, hotline cards and we will have flyers for each hotel employee.”

Havens set up a gofundme page a few days ago aiming to raise $1,000 for this project and by Wednesday he was more than halfway to his goal.

In addition to training hotel employees on how to spot victims of trafficking, Havens said he and his team will also be setting up an awareness booth at the Women’s Conference in October at the Civic Center.

“By being at that event, we will be able to reach hundreds of women directly and thousands indirectly,” he said.

Havens said he is also trying to increase the team’s supply of pamphlets and materials to hand out at hospitals, homeless shelters and law enforcement offices.

“The amount that we are raising may sound minimal but it will help to provide important materials for a whole year,” he said.

Havens said fighting a cause like trying to end human trafficking isn’t easy.

“There are critics who say that people don’t care and that things won’t change,” he said. “But we are proving them wrong. People do care and with their help we are definitely changing things for the better.”

Havens said it’s vital that communities become more educated about human trafficking because, he said, “it can easily happen to anyone. It could happen to them or someone they love.”

“Trafficking is a crime of opportunity and if a message is sent to criminals that the activity won’t be tolerated in a community, then we will begin to see less and less of it and there won’t be as many victims of trafficking,” he said.

According to the Global Slavery Index, there are more than 57,000 people stuck in trafficking situations in the United States.

“It’s everywhere,” Havens said. “People would be surprised to know how often it happens right in their own communities.”

For more information about trafficking and to learn more about how Southwest Louisiana is affected, visit

Gofundme page:

‘It’s everywhere. People would be surprised to know how often it happens right in their own communities.’

Rusty Havens

Local advocate for victims of trafficking


This SWLA Abolitionists I-10 billboard is one of the ways this group has worked to spread awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Courtesy of