Breckenridge and Silverthorne residents fight human trafficking
Global Orphan Prevention, Love Justice International have local connections
Two separate towns. Two separate organizations. Two separate people with the same mission: fight human trafficking.
Breckenridge resident Katie Hilborn and Silverthorne resident Sabrina Stratford have made it a goal to help prevent trafficking abroad and at home.
Hilborn, who lived in Breckenridge from 2005 to 2012 and has a background in education, recently moved back to town from Denver. Her work as the founder and executive director of Global Orphan Prevention focuses on ensuring that children, mainly in Nepal, are supported within their communities with access to educational resources and job creation. According to the organization, which was founded in 2011, 85% of children in orphanages in the area have living parents, and 70% of human trafficking victims are illiterate and living in poverty.
Earlier this year, Hilborn released a six-minute film that follows her mission to track down missing girls from Nuwakot, Nepal. Through her team’s six-year investigation, they discovered that girls were abducted during the 2015 earthquake, taken to India and then sold into brothels. The documentary also mentions completed and ongoing projects, such as a new learning center and dormitory in Nepal that has leadership and entrepreneurship classes.
Funding for the center is supported by the group’s Northstar 2 Freedom gala that happened Sept. 18 in Denver. The gala — which featured a live auction, entertainment and a three-course dinner — also raised funds for a new Denver curriculum called Compass Rose slated to roll out this fall. The program includes youth anti-trafficking campaigns and mental health workshops.
“It offers students resources and tools to take matters into their own hands and source their power from within,” Hilborn said.
The event netted roughly $140,000, according to Hilborn.
While Hilborn’s efforts are more established, Stratford is just getting her anti-human trafficking career rolling. Stratford only recently left behind her 25-year profession in global business development for software companies to join Love Justice International. As a project manager for the nonprofit’s new domestic pilot program, the native of Pampa, Texas, is currently remotely handling a team of volunteers in Alaska before eventually moving to Anchorage.
Stratford said Love Justice has saved over 25,000 people internationally and that Alaska was chosen as its first American project because 45% of domestically trafficked children are Alaska Natives, and 59% of all women in the state are sexually assaulted, with the majority being in rural communities.
Stratford first learned about human trafficking at a fundraiser in Glenwood Springs in 2016, but it wasn’t until she ran into a woman with Love Justice at a happy hour this summer that she decided to make it her mission. It was the data-driven methodology that spoke to Stratford and convinced her to join the organization.
What: Fight Against Human Trafficking featuring Sabrina Stratford and the Freedom58Project
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21
Where: Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge, 107 Denison Placer Road
She said her experience in international travel to places such as Hong Kong and Singapore as well as building relationships prepared her for the job.
“I’ve always traveled alone, and as a woman, that can be dicey at times,” Stratford said. “But I think traveling the world taught me how to use my discernment, how to check in with people and remain safe and even how to handle confrontation.”
Part of Stratford’s role has her building relationships with the Indigenous people, state and local law enforcement, mentor programs and more. Yet the actual interception of trafficking occurs at the Anchorage airport.
Stratford said teams of two work in shifts at the arrivals area and look for red flags, such as inappropriate dress, luggage and mannerisms.
“If you raise a certain number of red flags, we step in, and we just have a conversation,” Stratford said.
From there, they separate the trafficker and the victim, ask a series of questions and compare notes to see if the stories line up. An investigator is then called, and its up to the police to make an arrest.
However, because it’s a pilot program, Stratford has to raise all of the necessary funds herself. She already has 16 volunteers trained, but she needs $45,000 — the budget for the initial year — before she can join them in person Dec. 1.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.