A grandma and a baker in Northern Minnesota heard about our film and contacted me about organizing a mini film festival featuring films on trafficking for her community in Hackensack, MN. When she saw our film, she decided to instead organize a two-day symposium centered around Sands of Silence and invite me, along with Virginia Isaias, be on the panel. She wrote: “Today, Sunday, my daughter, my grand-daughter, and I baked enough loaves of bread to pay for one of your flights. One loaf at a time.”
I told her how moved I was by that expression, and she decided to name her event “One Loaf At A Time Symposium on Sexual Violence and Trafficking”.
When I told her we would be flying from Yale University where we had a presentation the day before, people in her community were astounded. “Do they know where they are coming?” they asked. Hackensack has a Population of 313, according to Wikipedia. But they have a multiplex movie theater with four screening rooms for the summer season when tourists flock to the lakes. The symposium was held in April, and, in the midst of a snow storm, we had a full house with 450 people who came from the surrounding lake areas. Our largest screening ever! The second day we were on a panel with a judge, law enforcement, NGO leaders, and Native American leaders. A young woman who grew up in the community shared a powerful first-hand account of psychological manipulation and grooming that, according to the community “brought home the message that this problem was not remote news from a far-away land, but a very real threat at home.”
I was appalled by the number of people who spoke at the Q&A, or approached us with stories of sexual violence and trafficking among those living in remote, isolated communities.
After we left, they had a follow up meeting with 20 core people who committed to continue raising awareness with specific actions. I still get emails and Facebook comments on how much we have ignited awareness in their community and changed it forever.