“Stolen people, Stolen dreams” an Event Held by DECA Students

Marian Hatcher puts two of our very own Niles West students on the spot for a very in-depth discussion.

By Emily Mendieta, Staff Writer

Last Friday, DECA’s public relations project team hosted an event to raise awareness about the horrific reality of human trafficking with two educated presenters. This took place in the auditorium during sixth and seventh period. One was an actual survivor and the other, a guest who worked with victims of human trafficking closely in the Chicagoland area. The PR team included DECA members senior Lexi Lee, senior Isabella Gil, and junior Muhammad Musani.

During sixth period, Marian Hatcher took the stage to talk about her personal experience with sexual exploitation and drug addiction. Marian Hatcher is a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service from Barack Obama. She was also featured on Oprah’s show and is currently a human trafficking coordinator for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

Hatcher delved into the struggles in her life which she gracefully spoke about. She graced the audience with her humor and her strong charisma which the students enjoyed. She spoke about her addiction to crack cocaine, her kidnappings, family struggles, and jail experience.

“I made some really bad decisions and ended up being a victim of domestic violence. I ended up on drugs. Crack cocaine became very important to me, more important than my family,” Hatcher said.

Most of all she spoke about how she was able to recover from such horrific events and how prolific human trafficking truly is. She challenged students to ask her questions so she could educate them on the true answers.

“We go from domestic violence, to drug addiction, to feeling the guilt and shame. I ran from the guilt, I ran from the shame, I ran from life and I ended up on the streets of Chicago by myself,” Hatcher said.

During seventh period, students were informed by a speaker from Selah Freedom, a national organization that brings awareness to sex trafficking and frees those who are exploited.

“Whether or not your heart is so passionate about this, whether or not we keep having this conversation, it doesn’t matter. Like Marian said if we all leave this room and we never talk about this issue again, my job is pointless. I want this to be something that you’re thinking about in a way that’s not scary, but in a way that feels empowered,” speaker Kara Thompson said.

Students felt inspired by both speakers and were empowered by their outlook on human trafficking and the intensity of the situation.

“I thought it was very informative. It was really cool to hear their impute and their experiences. I think it was really brave of her to share that with everyone,” senior Paige Garland said.

The attempts to raise awareness and educate Niles West on human trafficking will continue with posters that can be seen in the hallways and link to Hatcher’s presentation online.