Human trafficking survivor shares story with Magic Valley community
On Saturday, advocate and author Sioni Rodriguez spoke in front of an audience at the Amazing Grace Fellowship church about being a survivor of human trafficking.
Rodriguez's novel "Three Times Sold" depicts her experiences being sold into human trafficking at a very young age in Costa Rica.
"I just want to tell people how I survive," Rodriguez said. "I was sold at the age of 9, sold out again when I was almost 13 and then sold out again when I was 16."
Rodriguez resides in Pennsylvania and has spent her life advocating for victims of human or sex trafficking. During the discussion she recounts the first time she was sold to a shoemaker in Costa Rica.
After coming to America in the early '90s, she found solace with a church and began to heal her wounds.
"When I came to America, I found a church, found good people," she said. "I decided to follow Jesus. He changed my life; he gave me hope. The hope I didn't have."
The discussion was hosted by the local A21 Team. A21 is a worldwide nonprofit organization. Its mission is to raise awareness and end sex trafficking.
Jennifer Zielinski, the executive director with the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition, also spoke in front of the public. She said Idaho is making efforts to combat human trafficking, but there's still much to be done.
"We're probably about 10, maybe 20 years behind other states and their efforts, so expediting it is an understatement." Zielinski said. "What we've been able to accomplish within a year in a half, we're still so far behind."
The 2nd Annual Walk for Freedom is scheduled to be on Oct. 19 at the College of Southern Idaho near the Expo Center. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m.