Published on April 4th, 2017 | by Emily Goldberg1
Up-and-coming Tzedek gains presence on campus
In four short years, Tzedek has become a vision of a few passionate campus leaders hoping to change the world.
Tzedek is a social justice organization that helps to educate those on the Florida Southern campus about the injustices of human trafficking and sex slavery. The organization works to promote awareness on the subject by bringing prominent speakers to the school and raises funds by events and clothing drives.
The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as a “modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.”
Tzedek works with local companies such as Top Buttons, Take Heart Africa, The Porch Light and The Penny Project. This semester they have been working with Into the Jordan Ministries in Fort Myers. Into the Jordan Ministries is a counseling and wellness center for trafficked and exploited adult women living in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral area.
Tzedek President Alex Kleinmann proposed the idea of the “Be the Root for Change” project, which comprised of starting a GED program for the women at the ministry. She worked directly with the director of education of Into the Jordan to create booklets filled with questions and lessons for girls who are unable to receive an education. This ongoing project is something Kleinmann hopes to continue over the summer and next year.
“The average age of women who are trafficked are 12 so they never get the chance to receive their GED,” Kleinmann said. “This program acts as counseling to help them become members of society and prepare them for the real world.”
In addition to personalizing the books to make learning more interesting and inviting for these women, Tzedek is working on a video component for the program.
“This is an interesting project. Of course donations help but this is the most direct way to reach out,” Secretary Olivia Panda said.
Tzedek has also hosted more events this year compared to years past. In addition to the GED booklets, the club has had educational speakers come in to present, created cards and other letters for holidays, held clothing drives, shown documentaries and partnered with Women’s Advocacy Club and Just Asktival on campus.
“The atmosphere of the college is changing and it’s so hard to be passionate about every organization,” Kleinmann said.
Kleinmann and Panda admit that it’s hard getting people to keep coming to their events but say the school’s new passport program definitely helps get younger students to become more passionate about human trafficking awareness and prevention.
This past Wednesday Tzedek hosted the showing of the documentary “Tricked.” The event had the most people attend than any event all year.
According to Kleinmann, a goal for next year is for the club to dedicate its time to one organization or ministry instead of working on many. She wants to create events where people can see actual change in hopes that attendance and membership numbers will rise.
“It’s about fighting for people who don’t have a voice. Into the Jordan got me interested back in high school and is what really made me passionate. It’s the reason why I chose to be a nurse,” Kleinmann said.
Tzedek meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Fannin Center. For more information about human trafficking, visit traffickingresourcecenter.org or call 1-888-373-7888, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.