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Amanda Finger is the Executive Director of Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking headquartered in Denver. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube and learn more at combathumantrafficking.org.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m the executive director and co-founder of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. LCHT’s mission is to inform social change that eliminates human exploitation; our vision is the end of human trafficking. We focus our work in multiple areas including research to inform coordinated anti-trafficking efforts in Colorado, training of personnel in positions to detect and serve victims of trafficking, education to raise public awareness, oversight of Colorado’s human trafficking hotline and resource directory, and development of future leaders in human rights fields.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED YOU?
The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking is driven by a vision to end human trafficking, a severe form of exploitation. We hold the belief that social change – community-led, bottom-up solutions – is the pathway to eliminating human exploitation.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
LCHT employs the best possible methods that we know of right now to work towards eliminating human exploitation, and to continually explore the question “What would it really take?”’ In other words, we are both working towards the solution and helping figure out what that means along the way; we drive social change through our programs, and simultaneously use our programs to better understand how to achieve the social conditions that would eliminate human exploitation. In this way, we operate as a laboratory for collaboratively bringing ideas together to move towards solutions.
Human trafficking is a complex issue for which there is no single root cause. Complex issues require comprehensive solutions that mobilize a broad range of sectors and methods. LCHT believes those solutions lie in our communities, including formal and informal networks defined by geography, identity, and social connections.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Those who have survived this human rights abuse and lead efforts to eradicate it.
The incredible team that is currently in place – our staff, board, interns, volunteers.
We also stand on the shoulders of foremothers and forefathers, those who helped carve out many of the freedoms we have today.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM, FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
The end of human trafficking. I’m also very interested in getting at the root causes of why this type of exploitation still exists today.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THAT DREAM COME TRUE?
Communities who are engaged in this issue, partnerships to train professionals who work with vulnerable populations, volunteers to staff our hotline, and most of all, funding to make this work possible.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
A lot of people have the misconception that human trafficking looks like the typical storyline in a Hollywood movie. Or people associate it with recent political conversations about the southern U.S. border, that traffickers are flooding our country on a daily basis. The reality is a very different picture – the root causes of trafficking are often the same ones we know with other social problems, like poverty, access to and availability of [quality] resources, and factors that cause people to take greater risks for the pursuit of a better life. We believe that if we address these challenges, coupled with trainings and awareness at the local level of what trafficking looks like, we can then begin to prevent human trafficking.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
When I began to learn about human trafficking, I wanted to talk with everyone about it. However, few wanted to engage; it was too overwhelming. I began to pay attention to what I didn’t turn away from when others did and to seek out ways to get involved. Over the years I have also learned that we must involve those with lived experiences in all stages of our work – the design, the implementation, the evaluation. This takes dedication but I believe it will have a much greater impact.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU’RE DOING?
This problem is more pervasive than it should be, and we’re working with lots of sectors to generate social change.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
*Learn about specific opportunities (like becoming a hotline advocate!) at combathumantrafficking.org/get-involved
*You can follow us on social media: @lab2cht
*Sign up for e-updates at combathumantrafficking.org/connect
*Receive text alerts by texting the word “combat” to 51555
*Make a donation to anti-trafficking at combathumantrafficking.org/donate
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