As a recent alum, I am always curious to hear about what the younger Gordon graduates are up to; I like to hear about all the big things they’re working on (it seems like they’re always doing something cool). So I was excited to find out that Sarah Durfey ’09 was up here at the Not For Sale tent. Not For Sale is a modern day abolitionist movement that works to raise awareness about human trafficking, and empowers people from all arenas of society to do their part to end slavery worldwide. “I’m a tattoo artist,” she joked when I asked her what she had been doing since graduating. Sarah is the co-state director of the Massachusetts chapter of Not For Sale, and she’s been at SoulFest since Wednesday applying Not For Sale temporary tattoos and talking to festival goers about the cause.
It was at Gordon in the fall of 2007 that Sarah first heard the message that would shape her vocation. David Batstone, president and co-founder of Not For Sale, spoke in chapel one day, bearing the sobering news that there are more people trapped in slavery and human trafficking today than at any other point in human history. But what really brought it home for Sarah was that it is happening all around us—it’s happening in Massachusetts, in Worcester, in Boston. So the seed of calling was planted in the then-sophomore sociology major. Now, two years after her graduation (fitting enough, David Batstone spoke at her 2009 commencement), Durfey is a full-time abolitionist living and working in Boston. She is the director of the Abolitionist Network at the Emmanuel Gospel Center. That’s right, Not For Sale isn’t even her day job; it’s a volunteer post.
Sarah’s work with the Abolitionist Network tries to get at the deeper systems that enable and propagate the cycles of human trafficking. “These are broken systems; there’s brokenness at the core of these trafficking cycles. A girl can’t receive the care she needs from her family, so she’s placed into foster care. Then the foster care system mistreats her and abuses her, so she escapes that broken relationship and moves in with her boyfriend, who is friends with a sex trafficker, who starts to sell her to others . . .” These stories are not unique. They are narratives of brokenness that Sarah works with on a daily basis. But she and the Abolitionist Network are making steps to rectify the problems through increased community support for area youths, church engagement, training, connecting the survivors of trafficking with kids who may be at risk, and community empowerment initiatives. Durfey is also working with Amirah, a new Boston shelter for survivors of human trafficking, set to open its doors within the next six months.
It was really great to hear some of Sarah’s thoughts today and to witness her passion for this tremendously important cause. If you’d like to learn more about Sarah Durfey’s work or read some of her own reflections, check out her blog here.
Photo: Sarah Durfey in front of the Not For Sale tent.
John Mirisola ’11 is a Gordon alum and writer for the College. He will be blogging at SoulFest all this week, keeping you in the loop on all things Gordon College around the festival.