By Elyse Kaner
Bukola Oriola, a survivor of human trafficking and Anoka County resident, is hosting a fundraiser as part of an effort to stop the heinous crimes.
The inaugural event, the Imprisoned Show Sale and Fundraiser, will be held Saturday, June 8, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Heritage Park Community Room, 1000 Olsen Memorial Highway in Minneapolis. Admission is free.
Proceeds will go toward Oriola’s “Imprisoned Show,” a show with an international focus dedicated to educating the public on human trafficking. She’s been producing and airing the cable television show for three years.
The show features guest experts speaking on trafficking. Oriola, a former journalist in Nigeria, is the host and conducts the interviews.
Among featured speakers to date are the Anoka County Sheriff, the Anoka County attorney, an immigration attorney, a sex trade survivor, a staff member from Anoka-Ramsey Community College who spoke on prevention and a reverend from Chicago, who travels to Spain annually in an attempt to prevent sex trafficking.
“I want to continue to shed more light on it… (human trafficking) in a way that it’s not so negative,” Oriola said last week while working on a client’s hair at her shop Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supply in Mounds View. “I’m a survivor. I know how it feels . The way to prevent this is to preach love.”
In short, Oriola was held a prisoner by her husband in their home in Anoka County for two years, according to Oriola. She has written a book called “Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim,” detailing her story.
Thanks to Alexandra House, a shelter for abused women and children in Anoka County, help from other state agencies and Oriola’s fortitude, she has managed to turn her life around and is now a business proprietor.
But her passion remains in advocating for human trafficking victims, especially children.
According to the FBI, Minnesota ranks number 13 as the largest center of human trafficking nationwide. Two broad categories are labor and sex trafficking.
“It’s (human trafficking) a big problem,” said Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization that works with victims and survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution and operates in the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Rochester areas.
Carter has heard estimates of between 8,000 to 12,000, mostly woman and girl victims, who have been involved in sex trafficking in Minnesota. Five percent of the victims are boys.
Breaking Free serves between 400 and 500 women and girls a year, she said.
“That gives you an idea of how big the problem is,” she said.
She learned video making
Three years ago, while healing as a trafficking victim, Oriola found her way to North Metro Cable where she took video training classes in Blaine.
She soon learned how to produce shows. She created a show on teaching the art of hair braiding. Still, her desire was to educate the public on human trafficking, which led to the creation of her “Imprisoned Show,” now gaining responses from viewers worldwide from such places as Trinidad and Libya.
“For me, I didn’t know much about human trafficking until I got trafficked and then I got help,” Oriola said. “That is why this is so important to me.”
The Imprisoned Show Sale and Fundraiser will feature education on human trafficking, local vendors and victim service providers. Snacks and drinks will be sold, including puff-puffs, a Nigerian pastry, similar to a donut hole.
Blue beaded crystal bracelets, the color representing human trafficking victims, will be offered for sale.
Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 for a chance to win gift certificates, Bunker Beach passes, Nigerian clothes, artwork, a $50 gift certificate to Damola’s Kitchen, a Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn Park, and Oriola’s book “Imprisoned.”
Oriola seeks volunteers and donations to make the fundraiser a success.
Oriola’s wish list
Among items on Oriola’s wish list to enhance and continue her “Imprisoned Show” are: two professional video cameras, a still camera, Mac computer, blank re-writable DVDs, mini DVD tapes, dubbing deck, award plaques, editing service fee, volunteer web developer, custom microphone, secure digital storage drives and cards, two video tripods and brochure printing.
The items would allow Oriola to continue the show and free her up to do investigative reporting on human trafficking and air the segments on her show. For example, with the equipment, she wants to go into Canada and report about a particular human trafficking hot spot near the Minnesota-Canadian border.
Oriola is requesting donations also for food products for the fundraiser, including flour, sugar, yeast, vegetable oil, punch, soft drinks and water.
She is looking for volunteer writers. Among items on her wish list is a minivan.
Last week, thanks to the efforts of Abimbola Asojo, professor of interior design and life safety issues at the University of Minnesota, Oriola’s show will receive a set makeover as part of a Topical Issues Grant for $1,050 from Fairchild Books out of New York.
The grant pays for the show’s furniture, set design and it bused Asojo’s design students to meet with Oriola. Asojo’s students presented design proposals and Oriola went with their ideas.
Asojo, who has known Oriola for about 18 months, was at an annual conference on interior design in Indianapolis in February when grant winners were announced. She immediately called Oriola to tell her the good news.
“I couldn’t see her, but I knew she was dancing,” Asojo, now a client of Oriola’s, said last week while she was having her hair braided.
Asojo is sensitive to issues that impact people, she said.
“I want to be socially responsible,” she said. “I feel like we can impact society.”
Among other activities at the fundraising event, attendees will see a slide show from Oriola’s “Imprisoned Show,” view a display of the show’s new set and Oriola will share her story. For children, a special area will be set up where they can make flags of their countries and send them to Oriola, who will feature them on her show.
“We want to educate kids about human trafficking,” Oriola said. “They are the most trafficked around the world,” according to the United Nations, Oriola said.
Oriola is available to deliver presentations on human trafficking to churches, small groups, organizations and schools.
For more information on the Imprisoned Show Sale and Fundraiser or to learn more about Bukola Oriola, visit www.imprisonedshow.com. For questions and donations, contact Oriola at email@example.com, look her up on Facebook or call her at 763-516-4359.
Contact Elyse Kaner at firstname.lastname@example.org