CANADA: Young Woman Uses Faith and Fashion to Fight Human Trafficking

Megan Palik stands in a sea can she uses to house the clothes that she will be selling before the fashion show on Sept. 28.

By Jeff Peters on September 19, 2013—
“Most people’s choice of fashion is an expression of themselves, but  for Megan Palik it was  her love of expression and her faith that lead her to battle human trafficking.

Palik had a heart for those in poverty for years, but it was through some key experiences and chance meetings that she saw where her passions would intersect.
It was during her first mission trip when she was in Grade 11 to Tijuana, Mexico that she saw first hand the good that she could do for others.
“It was there that we built houses and it was my first time leaving Canada and so it kind of spurred this bug of travelling and I just have always loved children and helping others,” said Palik.
Palik took these experiences through her church to heart, and has contributed to her ministry’s fund raising efforts by combining both her passion and her faith in the form of fashion shows.
Years later Palik would find herself as a university graduate with a Kinesiology degree, a condo, a steady job, and closets full of clothes that she could only have dreamt of when she was younger. However there was still something missing.
“I was just desiring something more from life. I was just laying there and I was like (mission work) that is where I was kind of comfortable. [Even though] I had everything I think you could want.”
It was during an encounter with Sujo John, a 9/11 survivor that came to speak to Palik’s church about the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women in India and other third world countries, that Palik found her latest calling.
Sujo John is an Indian/American businessman who after escaping from the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, undertook a mission to help raise awareness about the plight of human trafficking in his homeland of India, through a foundation called You Can Free Us.
“I started doing these fashion shows earning money for like orphanages and different missions the church was doing. Sue Joe John, survivor of 9/11, came to the church and kind of shared his story.”
“I just approached him after the service. ‘Hey I do these fashion shows I raise money for different organizations and I feel like I could do something for your foundation.’”
This would be a pivotal point in her life. It just so happened Sujo John’s foundation had recently held a huge fashion show in India, with Vogue magazine covering the event extensively.
The match seemed to fit, however this was just the beginning for Palik’s new cause. After many attempts to have Sujo John invite a survivor of human trafficking back from India, he urged her to see with her own eyes what life is like for women who have fallen victim to exploitation in India, specifically the slums and brothels of New Delhi.
“I kept on bugging Sujo John, we need to bring a girl from India here to tell the story of what You Can Free Us did for her. It will really open our ears on a greater level of what this foundation is doing and what women experience over there. So after a while we kind of talked back and forth and he said “It’s just going to be easier if you come here’,” said Palik.
“I didn’t even know what human trafficking was I had no idea so after I kind of connected with him I started raising money and I started researching it – it’s horrific.”
Her mission to India entailed a visit to the notorious GB road in New Delhi, which is home to 100 brothels and thousands of women who have been sold into prostitution, very often tricked into their fate.
“The second part of it was at a safe house where they have 16 girls that they are housing and they rescued, and they’ve given medical treatment to. Their working on educating them and they’re trying to integrate them back into the community and just give them a second chance. A lot of these girls don’t even know where their families are so it’s like they’ve created a bit of family,” said Palik.
Since her trip to India this past summer her purpose has become all the more real. Her efforts as of recent have been bringing awareness of the plight of trafficked women to the eyes of Lloydminster residents with the Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship’s upcoming fashion show.
The event is called Let Justice Roll, with themes paralleling the modern slave trade and exploitation of women with that of the African slave trade of yesteryear.
“We want to open people’s eyes to what we thought was abolished isn’t and in fact I believe it’s at an all-time high,” said Palik “And it just feels like the world is closing their eyes to it and accepting it.”
The event will funnel funds raised to the You Can Free Us campaign.
This year’s goal is set at $50,000, which aims to more than triple last year’s amount of $15,000. Tickets are $10 each and there will also be VIP tickets for sale, which will grant access to a mocktail bar, special seating and reception. VIP tickets can be bought for $20 at the Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship office, Verses, or Misfit fitness studio.
The event takes place Saturday September 28 and goes on between 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. with no admission charge for the clothing sale, the fashion show begins at 7 p.m.
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