For the last three years, President Obama has declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and one new store in Tyler is hoping to raise awareness about the issue through the products they sell in their store.
Terry and Tammy Marshall opened "Come Together Trading" in Tyler in November, where they sell fair trade products, and they recently talked to us about what fair trade is and how it's helping address many problems around the world, including modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
The Marshalls sell products from all over the world made by people facing many different issues, but one of the areas they're most passionate about is helping victims of human slavery and trafficking around the world make a better life for themselves.
"People don't stop and think when you buy something who made that, what condition were they living in, how actually were they paid?" said Tammy Marshall.
"Come Together Trading" sells fair trade products - items made by people who live in extreme poverty who need a way to sell their products to make a living.
"Globally in these areas where trafficking is such a horrible issue, it's women that don't have a choice," Marshall said. "Their education has stopped at a very young age. They're not taught or trained to be able to make, to have employment, a source of income."
"Come Together Trading" works with more than 200 artisan groups like "Made By Survivors," which sells products made by women who have been rescued and rehabilitated from sex trafficking and have been taught skills, like silver-smithing.
"Right now, there's many different statistics, but they say there's about 27 million people who are actually living in slavery," Marshall said. "And trafficking being many levels - it's sex trafficking, but then also labor trafficking."
"Come Together Trading's" products represent 42 different countries across Asia, Central and South America, and Africa - and help millions of people create a new life for themselves.
"Many years, trafficking was not even on our minds, because you don't know about those things, you don't know to even think about those things," said Marshall. "And now it's like anything, you raise awareness about something, people start knowing of the issue, and then you start knowing what to look for and what to do to change that."
Marshall says that there are a few signs to watch for when it comes to identifying human slavery and trafficking here at home, including girls who seem to be living in a forced situation and laborers who are here working for pennies on the dollar.
For more information about "Come Together Trading," including their location and hours, please visit their website.
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