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How one Ugandan is fighting human trafficking in Africa—and the U.S.
After fleeing the LRA in her native Uganda, Igoye came the University of Minnesota. There she began finding resources to combat the scourge of human trafficking.
Agnes Igoye is committed to establish a rehabilitation center for victims of human trafficking in Uganda. In partnership with the International Organization for migration, Agnes will create a center for 20 women and girls that will provide schooling and vocational training for survivors, and will also train over 1,000 law enforcement officers on how to recognize and combat human trafficking. Agnes aims to produce a documentary about human trafficking in Uganda to be distributed internationally, and hopes to expand her program to serve more women.
AGNES IGOYE: I had parents who believed in me and made sure I went to school—walking a long distance—and it has always been about challenging myself to go for it. So I was really excited to be a student.
So fast forward. I had to work hard to get to university. And I’ve been a student all my life, because even when I work I continue being a student. I still go off. So my activism was really intertwined because looking at how it all began when I got into the field of human trafficking: It is in Uganda. It is in America. It is in your backyard. It may manifest itself in different ways.
As I was growing up, for me I was confronted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the use of children in conflict. I have done some state tours. I have done the state of Colorado, New Jersey, and I went to Las Vegas. And wherever I’ve gone I’ve seen one of the biggest problems in America is runaway children.
There’s that age where—traffickers know that, they rely on that vulnerability—that age when teens think that their parents are not so cool and they run away from home. So there’s always somebody, you know, to grab them and take them through a different path.
There is trafficking in agriculture in this country, among even immigrant population. But also among the locals themselves, sexual exploitation. From city to city I’ve come across victims of trafficking whom I’ve spoken to. I’ve spoken in various audiences, and after I’ve spoken I’ve seen these girls, especially, come to me and confide to me what happened to them in their situation.
So it’s everywhere. We just have to pay attention. We have to learn and empower ourselves with knowledge.
In my country Uganda we have, like I said, children in armed conflict. We have sexual exploitation. We have forced labor. They use children for street begging. We have removal of organs. The trade in human organs. We have removal of organs for rituals and exploitation, where somebody—to construct a building like this, the witch doctor tells you, “you have to kill somebody and spill some blood so that you can become rich.” People believe in things like that. So those things are real, and they happen around the world. We just have to pay attention and see how we can be involved.
When I got the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative and made that commitment of action to counter human trafficking, I knew I needed to build a rehabilitation center for survivors of human trafficking. I knew I wanted to take books, so that even children can have an education. And I remember then thinking, “Okay, how am I going to do this?!”
Because I had really huge goals! I wanted to build that center. I said I was going to train law enforcement, and I started off—I was going to train one thousand law enforcements [to recognize signs of human trafficking], and I was a student.
And I knew that, to train my reinforcement, to take books, and to create a rehabilitation center I had to be creative. Because here is a student who comes from Africa, you’re in America, you don’t have any money to implement this huge project.
But in my university what I found out quickly was that there was a lot of food at the university! So you’d go for student events and many times the food just goes to waste. So I said, “Okay, this is an opportunity for me to save money.”
So I started saving money, which I would have used to buy food, and I used to eat food from school events (and, of course, you can take takeaway), and I saved one thousand dollars. And so with one thousand dollars I went to Books for Africa, who are based in Minnesota, St. Paul.
So I went to them I said, “Listen, I want to take a container of books to Uganda.” That’s 23,000 books, that’s how I started. And I had never done fundraising before, but thank goodness when we had the Clinton Global Initiative they told us how to raise money for your commitment.
So before I knew it I raised money to take a container of books.
And one of the happiest, happiest moments in my life is going through the border between Uganda and Kenya and being in this truck. A huge truck that’s 40 feet, full of books and navigating through the roads and eventually by the time I came to this village school the kids being just so excited. So the excitement of seeing children lifting boxes and carrying them to their classroom, every kid having a book, you know—to own a book! And flipping through the pictures, mathematics made easy.
So that was really an exciting moment for me. That’s when I realized, “Wow, I can actually do this.” And so that’s how I approached even my other commitments. One thing at a time, and just being creative along the way.
Find out what is happening in your community. Find out which organizations are dealing with the problem.
And actually also find out how you can help, because believe it or not, all of us have a stake in this. I keep telling people, “If you have a big mouth like I do, yes, you learn about it, and then you talk about it.”
Some people have money, they’ll support organizations which are doing this work.
Sometimes it’s just about learning. You tell your neighbor. Be mindful if you see something wrong somewhere. You talk to the police and let the authorities know.
So trafficking exists. It exists everywhere, and we just have to be united in action. Because traffickers are so organized, are very organized. So they have the operations within countries, but they also cross borders.
And when they cross borders, that’s when we need to really collaborate. Internally collaborate: Law enforcement, social work. So everybody is important.
But also internationally to know how they are. Because there’s a lot of money to be made within trafficking of human beings. So to really pay attention on what is happening in your community and how trafficking manifests itself. And to know that whichever problems we have, like human trafficking, there’s always help.
I’m also speaking to survivors out there, because I work with them a lot and they go through really so many challenges.
That’s the reason I even decided to build a center for survivors of human trafficking. Because I know that they need rehabilitation. They have rights. They need people to pay attention to them and to really listen to what they need as they go through life to make a better life for themselves.
I remember one victim especially, whom I took to my house because I didn’t have anywhere to take her. And she was circumcised and forced to marry somebody even before she healed. And when she flee from her husband’s home, her parents didn’t want to take her back. They called her names, they said she has shamed the family. And I remember her calling me at midnight and me picking her up from where she had run to bring to my house.
And after three days she disappeared, and I’ve never seen her again. Just because I did not have a rehabilitation center to take her. So pay attention to survivors.
After fleeing the Lord's Resistance Army in her native Uganda, Igoye came the University of Minnesota. There she began finding resources to combat the scourge of human trafficking. Igoye was so determined to make a difference that she stopped buying food—choosing to eat at university events instead—which allowed her to save money. With her first $1,000 of savings, she supplied her native Ugandans with 23,000 books, knowing that education is an essential part of improving communities and stopping human trafficking. Through the Clinton Global Initiative University, Igoye is committed to building care centers for survivors of human trafficking and training law enforcement to better recognize and combat the illegal activity.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".