First-year Spartan raises awareness for sex trafficking, helps award scholarships

Since an eye-opening trip to Liberia four years ago, when Mariah Perry heard the stories of young girls who had been stuck in the world of sex trafficking, the Spartans first-year guard has made it her mission to help raise awareness for sex trafficking both locally and abroad. As part of her efforts, she recently helped award two scholarships to a pair of Grade 12 students in Washington who are similarly working toward helping raise awareness.

Recently, Perry spoke at an event in Washington where she, alongside a Whatcom County Coalition Group, which is connected with Hope for Justice, awarded scholarships to two students who completed their year-end Grade 12 projects—a culminating project required to graduate in some districts within Washington—with a focus on raising awareness for sex trafficking. At the end of the night, the coalition also surprised Perry with a $1,000 scholarship.

When Perry was in Grade 12, her culminating project saw her develop a “Tour of Oppression,” in which she hosted a dramatic evening of performances that acted out the real stories of women involved in sex trafficking in every corner of the world. From that, Perry connected with the Whatcom County Coalition Group and helped develop the scholarship program.   

“In each room in the Tour of Oppression, the girls demonstrated the tragedies that each of them faces and really showed how common this was,” says Perry. “For me, it was about bringing awareness to the fact that this is going on right here. It’s not just girls in foreign countries who are being trafficked like this.”

When Perry was in Liberia staying with her aunt and uncle, who were missionaries, she heard the stories of local girls who had been victims of sex trafficking and now in a rescue home.

“I walked into a room and heard these horrible stories,” says Perry. “I was one of those people who didn’t know anything and I was exposed to it...After the event, there were so many people who just said they had no idea this was so prevalent and that’s what the whole purpose was behind the project.”

Beyond awareness, she also raised more than $400 on the night of the Tour of Oppression, which Perry sent back to the rescue home in Liberia.

“I wasn’t expecting anything in terms of money, so it was really cool how God took my project and made it even bigger than I imagined,” said Perry, who sent the money that was raised back to the rescue home in Liberia.

Since completing her project, Perry has continued to push for awareness and this summer will volunteer at a Washington-based rescue and relief home that helps women escape the world of sex trafficking. 

“Sometimes I think people don’t care about all this, but it’s just that they don’t know and they don’t know how to respond or what to do,” Perry said.


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