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"What can I do to stop this?"

   The first time I learned about human trafficking, my immediate reactio    n was to ask "What can I do to stop this?"

The first time I learned about human trafficking, my immediate reaction was to ask "What can I do to stop this?"

by Theresa Trombley, LCSW

In last month's newsletter, you read about human trafficking that is happening here, in the US, in our own backyard. The first time I learned about human trafficking, my immediate reaction was to ask "What can I do to stop this?" I was in high school at the time, so my resources were limited, but I began to ask questions and learn more about the realities of human trafficking and about what I could do to contribute to a solution.

As time went on, I decided that I wanted to become a social worker. Once I finished school, I started working in a community mental health agency, where I was also given the opportunity to become certified in Primary Care Behavioral Health, and began working in the local community health center. As I became familiar with working in a medical practice, I noticed the connection that many of the patients had to their primary care doctors and the other staff. It was evident that the primary care setting provided unique opportunities for the staff to interact with patients on an individual, personal level.

Medical professionals often have unique access to victims of human trafficking, because of the nature of their jobs. Human trafficking is often "hidden in plain sight", and as a result, it is very challenging to identify and prevent. However, according to a recent "Annals of Health Law" report, 88% of sex trafficking survivors reported that they had interacted with a medical provider. 

In 2012, the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons developed a strategic action plan to address and improve gaps in the identification, treatment, and prevention of human trafficking in the United States. The task force was made up of members of many different federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. As a result of this collaboration, the strategic plan addressed discrepancies and areas of improvement across many different professions, agencies, and programs. 

One of the major sections of the strategic plan was focused on enhancing and improving training for professionals in a variety of fields (medical providers, educators, domestic violence treatment providers, etc). The goal of these improvements was to provide professionals with the knowledge and resources to identify human trafficking and respond appropriately. 

One outcome of this strategic plan has been the "Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act of 2018" (H.R. 767). This legislation, if passed, would provide training for healthcare professionals to help in identifying potential human trafficking victims, referring them to appropriate services, and providing them with medical care specific to their needs. 

In February 2018, the US House of Representatives passed the SOAR Act. This is a major step, but the bill is currently awaiting approval in the Senate. Here's where you come in.

If you’re reading about this issue for the first time, or if you’ve been struggling with figuring out how to help end human trafficking here at home, this is a great opportunity! You can write to your Senator and urge them to consider voting in favor of H.R. 767 today by clicking here:


Interested in learning more about human trafficking here at home? Check out the Polaris Project's research and advocacy information at https://polarisproject.org/

Theresa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, administrator at a community mental health agency in Massachusetts and has been a member of the Freedom Cafe Board of Directors since September 2014.

Summer Intern Update


     Hello, my name is Olivia Brigagliano. I am honored to have this opportunity to be a summer intern at the Freedom Cafe through the Social Innovation Challenge at the University of New Hampshire. This experience is teaching me a lot of valuable skills that I will be able to speak to and use in my development professionally. The Freedom Cafe is a wonderful space that has been able to capitalize on my interests as an economics and international affairs major. I have been welcomed into the friendly community that is Freedom Cafe and have been working on a series of projects to help The Freedom Cafe become more financially sustainable while promoting the Freedom Cafe’s mission and model. 

     I started out my internship by working with a new donor management information system. I integrated past and current data that consisted of everything from volunteer information, individual and organization donors, campaigns, events, appeals onto one organized site. During this time, we created a new streamlined system that allows for volunteers to log their hours onto this site and keep all of the Freedom Cafe’s constitutes organized on one functional site. After organizing and integrating data, which allowed me to gain Excel and management information skills, I moved to the next part of my internship. This aspect is focused on financial forecasting. I have been analyzing popular products within the Cafe and trying to determine growth through profit margins. I am analyzing trends to help determine if the Cafe should open on a weekend or if we should mark-up prices. I also help keep track of our project fund and other daily cafe transactions. Through this process I have been able to delve deeper into financial systems and gain accounting skills through the process. Finally, I am working on communications and guidelines, developing a foundation for social impact surveying. I am working on how the Cafe relays its mission and model to others and creating a familiar framework to share what the freedom cafe is about and how it is impacting the mission to end human trafficking. I am also working on an awareness survey to give out to the public. I am working with a marketing intern at Hayden’s Sports to create a partnership that will bring greater visibility to the cafe in the Durham community. 

     I have had the opportunity to work with amazing people. Their passion and devotion to this organization are attributes that I hope to have as I move on after this internship. I am very thankful to have been able to work with Bryan, Rachel, and Sean on these tasks. Bryan’s endless determination to this space as the director of Freedom Cafe is one of the biggest reasons why I feel as though this experience is a success. I have learned a lot here and will stay connected to the Cafe even after my internship. Your donations to support my position have made all of this possible. I sincerely thank you. I am thankful to have had this internship for I have been able to grow as an individual but also I have been able to work with an organization that has a beautiful mission that I am happy to help make stronger. 


Thank you to thee following sponsors for supporting The Freedom Café Social Innovation Internship 2018:

- Peter T. Paul College Scholarship - $2500
Industrolutions - $1000
- Alumni of The Freedom Café who supported the internship project fund campaign

Turn Your Concern into Action!

"Consumers say they are becoming more concerned about the impact fashion brands have on the planet. However, there is a huge gap between what consumers are saying and how they behave... Studies show that consumers are not willing to pay more for sustainable fashion and would rather pay more for style, quality and fashion which gives them value for money." - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-consumers-dont-buy-more-sustainable-fashion-susanna-koelblin/

While it's not surprising to hear there is a significant gap between concern and action when it comes to sustainably and ethically sourced products, it is encouraging that MOST CONSUMERS WILL PAY MORE FOR QUALITY. Obviously the article referenced is about fashion, however, the concept carries over to numerous other products including coffee.

The Freedom Cafe, Durham serves specialty coffee because we want to serve the very best products, providing guests a quality experience worth paying for and one that provides the highest return and investment for growers and producers throughout the supply chain.

The term specialty coffee refers to coffee made from the very best beans available in the world, which are expertly roasted by craft roasters to bring out their unique and ideal flavors. The folks at The Coffee Shrub describe a process of Farm Gate Pricing which gives growers 'above Fair Trade minimums', and provides an simple way to verify that the good price paid makes it to the people who do the work. - https://www.coffeeshrub.com/farm-gate-coffee. This is direct and transparent trade for a high quality product worth paying a premium price to enjoy.

So, turn your concern into action and buy higher quality ethically & sustainably sourced products even if it means you buy less.

You can start today right here at The Freedom Café and help end human trafficking one ethically sourced mug of specialty coffee at a time!

Join Us to Celebrate Juneteenth...

Join us to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday that
"has taken on the symbolic meaning of the day when the land of the free became less of a false narrative..."

To be honest, I first learned about it on an episode of Blackish last year and I'm the director of a non-profit working to end modern slavery! Sadly, I suspect that if it were not for my role and focus, the episode would have interested me yet still slipped out of mind. I am reminded that it is so easy to think only about ones personal freedom and to forget that our actions and neglect impact the freedom of others. 

This thoughtful article by Dolly Chugh in Forbes, draws attention to the history and importance of this celebration!



Take a Step Toward a Traffick-free Country

By Colie Haahr

You may not know it yet, but you know someone whose life has been touched by human trafficking. Our very own country has put teenagers and children directly in the hands of traffickers. Runaways and homeless youth in our country will be approached by traffickers within 48 hours of being on the street. What country do you live in? What countries come to mind first? It’s time to acknowledge our misguided belief that human trafficking is a only problem in countries that are less developed than The United States. It’s a problem in our country. It’s a problem in your state. It may be happening in your city or town. It happens here. Until we accept that fact, nothing can be done to change it.

Since getting involved with the Freedom Cafe, I have been to three different talks by survivors of human trafficking. Though their stories were different, what I have found myself thinking each time is that it could happen to anyone. One of the most powerful parts of hearing a survivor speak is the collective realization of the audience: “That could be me.” Trafficking stories often start with the same thing- a relationship. We all have those. Some of us have been in relationships that became unhealthy, others, abusive. Trafficking victims get trapped in a relationship based on manipulation and coercion, and it happens to more people than we know about. According to nonprofit Ark of Hope For Children, up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year. (https://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-trafficking/child-trafficking-statistics). In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received over 26,000 calls, and reported over 8,000 cases of trafficking.( https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states). These numbers have doubled since 2012. The states with the most human trafficking cases in 2017 were California (1,305), Texas (792), Florida (604), Ohio (365) and New York (333).

Knowing these facts is not why I got involved with the Freedom Cafe. Getting involved with the Freedom Cafe is the reason that I know these facts. One of the first talks that I went to at the Freedom Cafe was a panel of experts from the NH Human Trafficking Task Force. The detective on the panel talked about the role of addiction in trafficking cases here in New Hampshire. While I wasn’t surprised by the link between trafficking and addiction, I was saddened by it. The Opioid crisis has led to more trafficking cases: people manipulated by drug dealers and sometimes forced to use drugs to become addicted. I thought this was sickening. I thought this was as ugly as humans can get.

As some people reading this may know, I lost my older brother this year after his nearly 20 year struggle with addiction. What you may not know is that my half sister passed away in 2009 after a 5 year struggle with addiction that involved a manipulative and abusive relationship with a drug dealer. While there are many layers to each of their stories, I can say that I loved them both dearly, and that they had friends and family who loved them, cared for them, and tried to help. It’s a hollow feeling knowing trafficking victims do not even have access to those who care about them. I know that there is hope for trafficking victims, but I am also aware of the reality that survivors may need many different levels of care and resources- some of which are scarce- to recover from addiction in addition to trafficking.

The recent news that the United States government put refugee children and teenagers in the hands of traffickers is bringing more awareness to trafficking, and with that, I hope, more action to protect the most vulnerable people in our country (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/us/politics/us-placed-immigrant-children-with-traffickers-report-says.html). I have not stopped thinking about the nearly 1500 other immigrant children that the government cannot account for. It hurts my heart knowing that they are at high risk of being trafficked in a country they came to for safety.

When asked recently why I got involved with the Freedom Cafe, I said “because human trafficking is a cause that everyone cares about if they know about it.” I think that the most important thing the Freedom Cafe does is educate people about trafficking and ethical consumption. There is a spirit of empowerment at the Freedom Cafe that allows people to be both hopeful and realistic about the path toward a traffick-free world. I feel most inspired by the past and present volunteers who I know will walk this path in their lives and their communities. I truly do not doubt the power of the ripple effect, and I hope that together we can make our country a safer place for vulnerable populations. For this and many other reasons, I am choosing to support the Freedom Cafe for New Hampshire Gives on June 6th. If you want to join me, you can take a step toward a traffick-free world here: https://www.nhgives.org/p2p/40927/colie-haahr-f776d06a-b71d-4ef4-aac7-e2602acc2e00

National Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

*Colie is the STEAM and school aged programs coordinator at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and has served as a member of The Freedom Cafe Board since Jan. 2017. 

The Freedom Café partners with The University of New Hampshire to host a Social Innovation Intern

This summer, The Freedom Café has collaborated with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to host a Social Innovation Intern starting May 22.

In 2011, UNH launched the Social Innovation Internship program, a nine-week internship opportunity designed to expose high-performing students to workplace environments. In eight years, the program has placed 105 students at 51 leading businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations that use a market-based approach to tackle social and environmental issues.


After interviewing potential candidates, we were matched with Olivia Brigagliano, a dual majoring in Economics and International Affairs, with a minor in French. We are excited to have Olivia as part of our team and look forward to working with her to develop capacity, sustainability, and tools to track and communicate social impact. 

Our thanks to the following sponsors for supporting The Freedom Café Social Innovation Internship 2018:
- Peter T. Paul College Scholarship - $2500
Industrolutions - $1000
- The Freedom Café alumni who supported the internship project fund campaign
- Sean Matthews & Left Hook Digital

CourageSpeaksNH & Keynote Event with Guest and Survivor, Cheri Chrider

We are excited to host the CourageSpeaksNH Gallery at The Freedom Café on Tuesday April 17th from 1-9pm. 

Join us throughout the day to learn, support and be inspired.

Cheri Crider Bio Image.png
  • Gallery Opening & Reception: 1-2pm
  • General Viewing: 2-6pm
  • Keynote Event w/Guest, Cheri Crider 7pm-8:30pm
    Cheri Crider is the Office Manager and Outreach Survivor Leader for Amirah, Inc. in the Boston area. Her administrative gifts have enabled Amirah to achieve the level of excellence for which it is known. Having escaped commercial sexual exploitation 39 years ago, she knows both the heartache and triumphs of healing from trauma. Today, Cheri lends her experience to universities to develop curricula to protect vulnerable youth from exploitation. As an advocate and speaker, she facilitates groups to empower women and carries the message to end commercial sexual exploitation. As a member of the N.E. Survivor Leadership Collaborative, Cheri is a mentor to other survivors who desire to become active in advocacy work.  The mythical unicorn is Cheri’s symbol that recovery from sexual trauma is not only possible but leads to fabulous freedom!

    Join us at 7pm on April 17th, to hear Cheri's powerful story and important message about prevention. 

Portsmouth Community Radio Interview

On the first of March, The Freedom Cafe co-founder and executive director, Bryan Bessette and former volunteer and NH social worker, Sharissa Stout were interviewed about The Freedom Cafe, human trafficking and how we can all support the creation of a traffic-free (slave-free) world on Portsmouth Community Radio's, Seacoast Currents with Kathy & Larry. 

Give it a listen to learn more about The Freedom Café and how you can be a part of the movement to end human trafficking. The interview starts about 6 min in and is available on soundcloud at: https://www.mixcloud.com/wscaseacoastcurrents/hour-2-bryan-bresette-president-and-executive-director-of-freedom-cafe/



By Katrin Kasper


How do you END something that has been going on since the beginning of time as we know it?

When I first went to The Freedom Café in Durham, I was in search of a really good cup of tea.  I had no idea what The Freedom Café was; I only knew that my fellow tea-loving friends kept telling me I had to go.  I went looking for tea made with filtered water, at the right temperature, steeped for the right amount of time, made with quality leaves, and all the other things that make a great cup of tea.  I found that at The Freedom Café, but I was surprised that I found so much more there as well.  

The counter crew at the Freedom Café helped me start to learn about human trafficking in ways I never understood before.  At first it started with learning about the places that grew my tea, how it was sustainably grown and harvested, and how the tea was Fair Trade Certified™.  I always knew it tasted better, but I never really understood the depth of why.  As I learned more about my beloved tea, I also learned about chocolate and clothing, two major areas where human trafficking is prevalent.  I started to see how many times a day I was voting with my dollar to either support fellow humans or harm them.  I started to read more and watch videos. I eventually asked how I could help out around the Freedom Café. Finally, I became a board member at the Café.  I still have so much to learn, but if you were to look in my tea drawer at home or see where I shopped this past holiday season, you would see that I am starting to understand just how important each little purchase can be to someone else’s life.  

Human Trafficking isn’t just something we can shop away. It’s complicated and layered.  If it was easy we already would have solved it.  Didn’t we free the slaves after the Civil War? Isn’t slavery over? No, and it won’t be until human life has value everywhere.  Human trafficking won’t end until we globally decide that no one is worth less than anyone else.  

Fighting human trafficking at its root is not just a rescue operation.  It is a legal battle.  It is about persuading governments to create laws to protect all humans and then being able to back those up with enforcement that isn’t corrupt. It is about all of us refusing to purchase products or services produced by people who have been trafficked.  It is about changing the system.  It's about showing companies and producers that they can make money and have lasting success when they enact fair policies and provide a living wage to all workers. Otherwise, trafficking just keeps going on and on.

We must demand that human trafficking stop being an option for producers.  We can do that through the products we buy, the adventures we take when we travel, the people from whom we buy services, and so many other ways.  But we also must demand that laws change, demand our police force have the resources and the laws to support them when they do run into a trafficking situation.  We must help other countries find ways to help their own people through changing what they allow.  

None of this can happen without awareness, understanding and wisely directed resources.  That is why The Freedom Café is so important.  We have to start right here at home. We must strengthen our laws, provide the funding to allow officers and case workers to spend time on these cases.  We must support victims and make sure they have a chance at life, and help others not fall into the same traps.  We need to find solutions that work and then back those solutions with resources until everyone on this planet is free.  Until that day, we have to keep fighting.  We need everyone to be aware, we need to vote with our dollars, and we need to care about every life on this planet, regardless of location, sex, race, religion, addiction, age, or anything else that makes one population more vulnerable than another.  

This is a big problem. It is going to take all of us to solve it. So come and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, and help us end human trafficking one ethically sourced mug at a time!

A Journey to Awareness and Action

by Rachel Sanborn

If you’re reading this blog, then it’s likely that you or one of your friends have sought out information on The Freedom Cafe. What caught your attention? Was it the brightly colored murals on the walls outside of the “Lighthouse” building at 10 Mill Road in Durham, NH? Or maybe an open mic night you attended in the cozy basement of a random building on the edge of the UNH campus to watch a friend play (or for you to play!) their music in public? Maybe you’re on a mailing list for updates from The Freedom Cafe because you heard about it from a volunteer, board member or our director, or maybe you saw a large “GIFT Box” art exhibit that inspired you to think about how people in so many situations end up being exploited.

This is a story of moving from ignorance with a high cost to others, to awareness and action at a small cost to oneself.

However you ended up here, reading this blog, we are now a part of each other’s stories. This is a story of moving from ignorance with a high cost to others, to awareness and action at a small cost to oneself. It is not a story of judgement, but of empathy and a hundred small steps towards improving our world for everyone in it. This is the story of my own journey towards understanding human trafficking and working to end it, but now that you’re here, I hope it will become part of yours too.

nepal trip.jpg

In 2011, my brother-in-law Bryan, a chaplain at The University of New Hampshire, made the long journey to Nepal with a group of students to assist firsthand in their efforts to build ongoing support systems for these survivors of trafficking. Upon his return home to Durham, Bryan began to take action on the campus of UNH to extend the anti-slavery freedom mission from the survivors in Nepal to a focus on human trafficking in our own backyard, right here in New Hampshire and New England. This lead him to initiate and co-found The Freedom Cafe as a venue for both increasing awareness of the issue locally, and as a way to raise funds to grant to other organizations working to prevent human trafficking or directly with survivors of human trafficking.

I started to search out information from others on how I could individually contribute to ending human trafficking, which for me translated to buying ethically-sourced products as often as possible in my daily life.

Bryan would share over and over again at each family gathering about his work in these areas and the new movement, The Freedom Cafe, that he and others had started to contribute to the cause. My interest having already been piqued, I would listen to his impassioned narrative of how tea, coffee, and chocolate could actually make a difference in the lives of thousands, if not millions, around the world and in our own neighborhoods. I started to search out information from others on how I could individually contribute to ending human trafficking, which for me translated to buying ethically-sourced products as often as possible in my daily life.

It seemed like such a large issue that no individual could have an impact, but what I have found is that putting my money where my mouth is - truly valuing the lives of others more greatly than my own convenience or consumerism - has made a huge difference in the way I view and treat others. It is often difficult to remember (or even discover!) the creator of every item or experience we consume today, but the more I look for products or experiences that don’t use exploited workers to produce them, the easier it becomes. The more that you and I and our peers do this, the more companies will see financial incentives to create their products ethically. To assist you in this part of your journey to end human trafficking, The Freedom Cafe has created a conscious consumer guide, which you can find here: http://www.thefreedomcafe.org/conscious-consumer/

The most recent step in my journey has been to start sharing what I’ve learned and the ways I have found to participate in the fight to end modern-day slavery of all kinds. I’ve been inviting friends and family to visit the Cafe for Open Mic nights (which really are fun for everyone - my 60-something year old parents and my 6 and 2 year olds all enjoy them!), encouraging friends to meet me at the Cafe for coffee or tea and conversation, and reminding my loved ones to be conscious of sources when choosing products or experiences. I’ve recently joined the board of the Cafe so that I can make an even bigger impact on more people with consistent and clear communications about the work the Cafe is doing to end human trafficking. And of course attending the Masquerade Ball hosted by The Freedom Cafe in an ethically sourced gown and mask!

Did you know that there have been over 300 reported human trafficking victims in the last 10 years in New Hampshire and Maine?** That’s three per month, right here in our own backyards, without including unreported victims or survivors. So what can you and I do to move from just awareness of the issue to real action? Here are some of my favorite ideas right now:

  • Be a conscious consumer of products: always ask who made it and how they were treated. Buy more from companies who tell you exactly how and by whom their products were made or are Fair Trade Certified(r). Better yet, buy local handmade products!
  • Be a conscious consumer of experiences: think about the treatment of the service provider. Is that nail technician being paid less than minimum wage and having their passport held against their will? Is that driver for your favorite car service subject to poor working conditions and do the profits help fund executives who exploit others in multiple ways? Are the girls or guys at that strip club you were thinking of going to for a friend’s bachelor or bachelorette party there of their own free will (the answer is often no!) or are they being exploited because of drug habits or financial needs?
  • Be a conscious investor: think about the companies you have invested in via savings programs like 401(k)s or IRAs. Does your money go to fund companies with a history of exploiting workers, such as large textile and apparel companies, or mining and energy companies? There are a whole slew of investment options out there now that are “socially responsible” in various ways and still earn similar returns to traditional investment options.

  • Learn: attend one of The Freedom Cafe’s events to learn more about the issues and how you can help end modern-day slavery. Go to http://www.thefreedomcafe.org/events/ to find scheduled public events or http://www.thefreedomcafe.org/outreach/ to schedule your own outreach event with the help of the Cafe and its volunteers.

  • Talk about it: once you’ve learned how to spot the signs of trafficking, report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888 or https://humantraffickinghotline.org/report-trafficking). You can also contact your local, state, and national lawmakers asking them to introduce supply chain management legislation, protection for victims of human trafficking and tougher laws against traffickers: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

  • Vote: your power to vote in elections both locally, statewide, and nationally, can have a huge impact on these issues! Find candidates who are willing to initiate and support legislation or local campaigns that will target the issues surrounding human trafficking, such as immigration issues, supply chain tracking, or programs to fight poverty and drug abuse. Find out how to register to vote here: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

  • Volunteer: come join The Freedom Cafe in our mission to consistently engage the local community about human trafficking issues and to raise funds to help in local efforts to end human trafficking! http://www.thefreedomcafe.org/volunteer/

More than 1,500 years ago, Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu mused that

“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

On this journey to awareness and action to end human trafficking, what will be your first step?

- Rachel is currently the Director of Financial Planning for a technology startup in New York City, is a Certified Financial Planner professional, and holds a Masters of Science in Financial Planning from Bentley University. She received a crash course in branding when she joined her first technology startup (a women's finance blog-come-financial planning firm) five years ago and enjoys all aspects of clearly communicating the Freedom Cafe's mission to our community and supporters.

*You can read more about Marian’s story and how it impacted the King of Nepal’s decision to ban slavery here: https://www.bridgetonepal.org/our-story

**According to the calls and reports received by the National Human Trafficking hotline for NH and ME from 2007-2017: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/maine and https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/new-hampshire