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Freedom Sought at Freedom Cafe

By Jake Levin

What if I told you that the income generated by the human trafficking industry surpasses that of giants such as Starbucks, Apple, Google and Nike combined?

Based on 2014 numbers, it is indeed, sadly, the case. It's an issue which transcends the borders of Durham, N.H., where Bryan Bessette's Freedom Café is located, but he's more than happy to help establish a solution in which some 21 million people worldwide forced into labor can gain their freedom.

"Human trafficking is bigger than any one person, company or country," Bessette said. "These systems were established over a long period of time and it will take time for them to change. As participants in the global economy, we have a responsibility to do something about it."

Bessette does his part, along with 75 other volunteers (many of whom are high school and college students), by running the café which serves only ethnically sourced products. Fifty percent of all proceeds to the café support efforts to end human trafficking, which is only one way the Freedom Café supports its cause.

"There is a place for anyone in the community to get involved and begin to be a part of the change needed to end trafficking," Bessette said.

The volunteers organize community meetings, plan awareness events and manage the organization's marketing, communication, research and fundraising efforts. All volunteers are educated on social justice issues, which empower them to take action while also helping them develop meaningful transferrable skills that carry over into their vocational endeavors.

Bessette, who is both president and executive director, cited a study which states that human trafficking is the fastest growing form of international crime and second-largest source of illegal income in the world.

Bessette said that as participants in the global economy, we all have a responsibility to do something about the tragedy that is human trafficking.

The café is located at 10 Mill Rd. in Durham, and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is also an event titled "Perform for Freedom" on Wednesday nights that runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

To learn more about Bessette and his mission to end human trafficking through the Freedom Café, visit his website, thefreedomecafe.org.

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