We need to talk about a subject that is important to the team at Palate Coffee Brewery.
No, it’s not coffee.
No, it’s not those muffins (although, yes, they are very appetizing).
It’s about human trafficking.
When you volunteer for Palate, you are not just trained to pull a perfect shot. Or to serve the customers. You’re also trained to spot if someone is being trafficked for sex.
Coffeeshops are places where trafficking victims may visit, even if momentarily. Knowing what to look for and who to call if you’re suspicious could be the difference between life and death for a victim.
Tina, co-owner of Palate and co-founder of anti-trafficking nonprofit Love Missions, cannot stress this enough. She says:
“If you hear something or see something that seems weird, pay attention. You could save a life.”
She and her husband, Carl, are motivated to fight the injustice of human trafficking not just because it’s a disturbing reality. But also because Tina is a survivor of sex trafficking. She endeavors to save those who are still trapped.
If you encounter an individual who you suspect may be a victim of human trafficking, ask yourself the following:
Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or church?
Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
Is there a wide age gap between the person and someone they are with, however, they don’t interact as though they’re related?
Is the person branded with a tattoo? (Traffickers sometimes tattoo their initials, the victim’s street name, or a gang member symbol onto the person they have trafficked.)
Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
Does the person have freedom of movement?
Sex trafficking is the fastest growing enterprise in the world. It’s estimated to make $99 billion a year.
By educating Palate’s volunteers on how to identify victims, Carl and Tina can empower their team to do two things:
Raise awareness in the community
Report possible victims while at the coffeeshop
Palate volunteers can also provide information to customers when they are asked about the coffeeshop’s mission and, more specifically, about human trafficking.
Tina emphasizes how few victims of sex trafficking escape and how being a survivor drives her mission.
“I’m thankful that I’m alive and that I can make a difference in other lives.”