It was shortly after New Years in 2010 when I found out that there were more people that were in slavery today than in the civil war era. At that time, it was estimated that there are a total of 27 million people in slavery. Sadly, with every year this number grows. As I sat in the audience of the conference I was attending, I became very emotional. I began to understand what freedom actually meant and was completely heartbroken that there were many, even in the US, that don’t have the same luxury. The next year the same conference launched the End It Movement, an awareness movement to bring to light the issue of slavery. Through this conference and the End it Movement, I was able to get connected with organizations around the Atlanta-area to find out how I could make a difference and share with others the truths behind human trafficking. I began volunteering with an organization called Wellspring Living. Wellspring Living is an Atlanta-based non-profit that helps women who have been trafficked or have suffered from domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. I started working in Wellspring Living’s retail store. After working there for a number of months, I began tutoring the women – helping them obtain their GED. I began volunteering because I wanted to help others but these women helped me so much more.
I’ve wanted to share this story through data viz for awhile now but never was satisfied with the way it turned out…until this project. The Reviz Project has helped me better understand data-driven journalism. This was an emotionally rewarding visualization to build. The primary focus in my build was awareness. I wanted to create a viz that left people speechless like I was when I attended that conference six years ago. I also wanted to share with people how they could get involved and stay informed.
Every year, the End it Movement has a day in February dedicated to shining a light on modern day slavery. All over the world, people draw a red X on their hand. The first year I did this – it seemed silly to me. I thought, “How is drawing a red X on my hand going to solve human trafficking?!” Now it seems absolutely silly that I thought it was so silly. SO MANY PEOPLE asked why I had the X drawn on my hand. That little red X was the gateway to so many impactful conversations and with each conversation another person became aware of how human trafficking is a growing problem. This year Shine a Light on Slavery Day is Thursday, February 25th. I hope this visualization has made you aware and I hope you join me in drawing a red X on your hand next Thursday!