Dubuque Building Awareness to End Human Trafficking

A Jule bus with a strong new message is traversing Dubuque, Iowa, streets. The Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery sponsored the wrap featuring a photo of a lovely young girl to drive home a growing reality: “Not for Sale: Stop Human Trafficking.” It includes the national hotline number: 888-373-7888. The coalition was founded in 2014 by members of the Dubuque area Catholic women religious communities including the Sisters of the Presentation.

The wrapped bus will spread this message for the next year. It is a follow-up to human trafficking awareness training sessions given to approximately 70 local Jule bus drivers. Funds for the wrap come from the coalition’s budget and generous donors to the project.

The coalition’s hope is that the awareness of and response to human trafficking will prevent vulnerable young persons from becoming victims of this crime against humanity, and encourage people to contact the hotline if they witness anything suspicious.

“We want to help people realize that no person is a commodity to be sold,” says Sister Irene Lukefahr, coalition member and Sister of Charity. “Each person is a beloved daughter or son of God, worthy of dignity and respect, not a tool for pleasure and profit.”

This same message is posted on a billboard on US 20 between Dyersville and Dubuque. The timing is intentional. Large public events like athletic contests and fairs are a magnet for traffickers, and in Dubuque County none was bigger this summer than the major league baseball game on August 12 between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees at Dyersville’s iconic Field of Dreams. Eight thousand fans cheered on their teams, and ancillary events are also full-throttle ahead.

“Our focus as a coalition is educating a variety of public groups. This bus wrap is just another way to get the word out about the evil of human trafficking,” states Sister Marilou Irons, coalition co-chair and Dubuque Presentation Sister. “Having been a teacher and principal for over 40 years, I feel a deep responsibility in working to keep children safe. How could I not stand up to build awareness?”

The coalition has expanded to other members in the Dubuque community and tri-state area who are dedicated to the eradication of this de-humanizing, criminal enterprise.