Human Trafficking: "The Athena Protocol" Aims to Help Stop Human Traffickers From Preying on Vulnerable Children After Natural Disasters by 30Seconds Mom

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4 years ago

Human Trafficking: "The Athena Protocol" Aims to Help Stop Human Traffickers From Preying on Vulnerable Children After Natural Disasters

Areas impacted by natural disaster and devastation are recognized as inevitable sites of increased human trafficking, with children being the most vulnerable. It happens in the U.S. as well as developing countries. Now, Headwaters Relief Organization, an international non-profit disaster relief organization, is teaming with award-winning novelist Shamim Sarif to raise funds to educate communities about these risks, and support those who have experienced trafficking.

“We have encountered trafficking nationally and internationally in our disaster work,” says Headwaters Relief Organization Founder Rebecca Thomley, whose organization supports the needs of families and communities after tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters. “The long-term consequences such as hunger, disease and homelessness can be devastating. Economic problems and government’s inability to protect in the wake of disaster creates conditions of increased individual vulnerability and criminal activity. Traffickers take advantage of these conditions.”

The Athena Protocol

One of Headwaters’ award-winning initiatives is creating children’s books as tools for education, as well as for helping victims build coping skills and develop resiliency. That strategy drew the attention of Sarif, an accomplished screenwriter and film director as well as an author, whose stories often encompass social justice. Her new novel, The Athena Protocol, a young adult thriller which HarperCollins will publish on October 8, 2019, addresses trafficking as a global issue.

In the book, Athena is a top secret, socially conscious, all-female organization that combats injustice against women and children around the world. The protagonist, Jessie, is a young, hot-headed agent embroiled in a daring mission to take down a human trafficking operation in Belgrade.

As with Headwaters, Sarif believes the impact of storytelling is huge. “Stories can be empowering, giving us characters we identify with and a framework to understand our own lives and humanity,” she says. “I hope to build awareness amongst young adults who read 'The Athena Protocol' and perhaps motivate a desire to make a difference to this global problem.”

Sarif will donate 100 percent of the affiliate fees she receives for each book purchased through the links on her site to Headwaters Relief Organization.

“We are keenly aware of the need to educate potential victims, families and community leaders about the possibility of trafficking and to further support those who have experienced trafficking,” says Thomley. “What excites us about partnering with Shamim Sarif on 'The Athena Protocol' is that it promotes our vision for interacting with young people where we believe we can have a lot of impact.”

Human Trafficking: Lives Are at Stake All Over the World

The statistics are staggering:

  • According to the U.S. government, 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex.
  • When internal trafficking victims are added to the estimates, the number of victims annually is in the range of two to four million; 50 percent of those victims are estimated to be children.

Traffickers often exploit young and desperate orphaned girls by assuring them of a better life. When basics like food and shelter are threatened, the girls have little hope, which makes the trafficker seem like a way out of their isolation and hunger. The girls may be taken away from their homes and brought to larger cities where they are forced into prostitution and subjected to horrible abuse and violence.

The Athena Protocol releases on October 8, 2019, and is available now for pre-order. Each book purchased through the links on Sarif’s website will result in a donation to Headwaters Relief Organization. “This is a great opportunity to contribute to an important cause while buying a book that I hope readers will enjoy!” says Sarif.

To order “The Athena Protocol” visit To learn more about how Headwaters Relief Organization is trying to prevent human trafficking around the world, visit

Photos courtesy of The Athena Protocol (press release). 

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This is such a tragic thing. Glad to see this action being taken to make a difference. 💗
Headwaters Relief
Thank you for your support!
Elisa Schmitz
What an amazing initiative by Headwaters and Sharif. It is heartening to see something being done about human trafficking, thank you!
Headwaters Relief
Thank you for sharing this article and for your kind words!

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