The Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program

Photographs of Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Program in action at the All Souls Church in New York City

Slide Show | Photos of the Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program.

For an understanding of what Human Trafficking is, Article 3, paragraph (a) of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons begins to lay the ground work of defining the act, or commission of “Human Trafficking.”  The Protocol notes the coercion or exploitation of individuals, to include prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.  The definitions contained in the Protocol are meant to provide consistency and consensus around the world on the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.  Further, the Protocol calls for the local criminalization of any of the defined acts of Human Trafficking.

The term “human trafficking” is an umbrella term for the acts of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force or coercion.  For a detailed definition as provided by the U.S. Department of State, please read its Trafficking in Persons Report 2013.

It may be surprising to some, but the United Nations only began addressing the phenomenon of Human Trafficking in the late 1990s when it issued a comprehensive strategy to combat Human Trafficking and migrant smuggling.  Human Tracking is a crime most people fully do not understand, or care to hear about: there exists a general lack of awareness of the crime of Human Smuggling, and little empathy for the victims and survivors of said crime.

Many Human Trafficking victims are never heard from again, and simply vanish from society and our collective consciousness.  However, there are also many survivors who are on the mend and weaving their way back to normalcy.  I have met many Human Trafficking survivors through the local New York City nonprofit organization, Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program, Inc.  Mentari is dedicated to providing Human Trafficking survivors with direct services, education/training, advocacy initiatives, and mentorships.  Directing Mentari through all of its advocacy and assistance programs for the many survivors are Randall Roca, President, and Shandra Woworuntu, Founder, Vice President, and Human Trafficking survivor.

Ms. Woworuntu is one of the strongest and most amazing people I have ever met.  To learn more about Ms. Woworuntu’s plight and her story of survival, please read the BBC Magazine article chronicling her story.  More recently, in 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Ms. Woworuntu to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

The photographs I have taken of team Mentari are meant to document a story of survival and empowerment, rather than a story of victimization and marginalization.  My work with team Mentari is intended to be a long-term project as I hope to be able to follow some of the many survivors as they re-enter society with a sense of purpose and normalcy.  Please follow the following link to the photos gallery: Mentari, Images Gallery.

N.Y.P.D. Chief John F. Timoney Begins His Final Journey

John F. Timoney, Dies at 68

An N.Y.P.D. Honor Guard carries coffin with Chief John F. Timoney from inside funeral parlor to a waiting hearse for the short ride to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
An N.Y.P.D. Honor Guard carries coffin with Chief John F. Timoney from inside funeral parlor to a waiting hearse for the short ride to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Free Speech in Action at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Philadelphia is the birthplace of American Democracy and as such, provided the perfect backdrop as it hosted the DNC.

Slide Show | Photos of demonstrators outside the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 25th-28th, 2016.  On July 25th, 2016, I proceeded to the an area just outside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to witness and document some the political demonstrations, and social protests, taking place thereat.  Philadelphia is the birthplace of American Democracy and as such, provided the perfect backdrop as it hosted the DNC.

The DNC is the formal nominating event for the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.

Protesters and witnesses to the events outside the Well Fargo Center came from all over the country to witness or have their voices heard.  Some felt disenfranchised as they were prevented from attending the actual Convention activities held inside the Wells Fargo Center.

Crystal, a Morgan, West Virginia resident, informed me she had been a registered Bernie Sanders volunteer for the past year but was denied access to enter the Wells Fargo Center to support Mr. Sanders.  Others in Crystal’s delegation of volunteers had been denied access to the Center as well.

A contingent of local and Federal law enforcement agencies were on hand to provide security to the venue, while ensuring demonstrators and observers coexisted peacefully.  Most importantly, the police presence ensured all who wanted to exercise their right to free speech.

For a historical commentary on past Democratic National Conventions held in Philadelphia read the following Opinion at Philly.com: Article.

I hope you enjoy the following images I made at the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia, PA: 2016 DNC, Images Gallery.