A Great Falls woman is continuing her effort to end human trafficking.
MTN first introduced Chelsi Lanphear last week as she was preparing for the first meeting of her newly-formed group to raise awareness about the issue. On Saturday morning, MTN talked with her as she hosted her first walk. With a banner in her hand and her family in tow, Lanphear walked along the sidewalk on 10th Avenue South in Great Falls.
"What we hope to accomplish today is just spreading awareness about human trafficking and really put it out there because a lot of people don't know about it because it's not on mainstream media," Lanphear said. "So we just hope to get the words out there and let them know about it and hopefully more of the community will come around asking questions."
Lanphear recently moved to Great Falls from Oregon, where she was involved in events to help end human trafficking. When she realized there are no groups locally dealing specifically with human trafficking, she created a group called Solid Ground. Her passion stems from her personal experience with human trafficking.
"My sign is my official sign. It just says 'End Human Trafficking.' Then, we have signs that my children and I have made. Theirs also say 'End Human Trafficking' and 'Human Beings Are Not For Sale,’” Lanphear said, pointing out the signs.
The sign her son Colin carried also had several symbols on it. "This has (symbols) on here for money laundering, organ trafficking, and then also drug trafficking. So every type of human trafficking is what we're hoping to spread awareness about,” Lanphear said.
The Montana Department of Justice cites studies estimating global profits from forced labor to be $150 billion a year with an estimated 57,700 people in modern day slavery in the U.S.
"We had a lot of walks in Oregon. In fact, One Purpose and Hope Ranch Ministries in Oregon is really what sparked off my wanting to get the word out there because their groups are getting pretty large and in charge. So we're hoping to branch off and really spread awareness across the United States,” she said.
The next walk is scheduled for December 19 and more walks will be held in January.