NELSONVILLE — The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio has announced a partnership with the new anti-human trafficking initiative, Eyes Up Appalachia.
Of the 32 counties in Appalachian Ohio, almost half are not represented by an anti-human trafficking coalition, including Gallia and Meigs Counties.
Eyes Up Appalachia was formed to fill this void. The individuals that are trafficked often have underlying vulnerabilities such as poverty, marginalization, lack of education or economic opportunity, mental health concerns or substance use disorders. Unfortunately, these vulnerabilities are found throughout Appalachian Ohio. Recruitment becomes easier when these exist as the trafficker uses them as leverage. Eyes Up Appalachia was formed with the intent to educate the community on exactly what human trafficking is (and what it is not!), how to recognize it, and what to do if they see it. But even more importantly, Eyes Up Appalachia works to prevent human trafficking by supporting these vulnerable populations.
Eyes Up Appalachia founder, Christi Scott Bartman, notes, “Everyone has seen the recent headlines of the U.S. Marshals Service Offices in Southern Ohio and Southern West Virginia, in conjunction with other state agencies, which rescued 45 missing children and resulted in 179 arrests by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force. This followed very closely the indictment of Portsmouth attorney Michael Mearan on 18 felony counts related to human trafficking earlier in October. While we applaud these efforts, there is so much more to do. Eyes Up Appalachia will provide trainings, coordinate with state anti-trafficking efforts to get the resources to those in Appalachian Ohio that can use them, and educate the community. Please join us in our efforts to illuminate, educate and advocate against human trafficking!”
Eyes Up Appalachia and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio both have a vision for citizens of Appalachian Ohio to live in a region abundant with possibilities. By partnering, the two groups hope to help change the lives of those being trafficked and help prevent the vulnerabilities that lead to human trafficking in the first place.
To learn more about Eyes Up Appalachia, please visit www.EyesUpAppalachia.org.
Information provided by the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.