By Mitzi Perdue
Wincey Terry-Bryant is a musician with a fabulous career. She’s worked with Sting, Tina Turner, Garrison Keillor, and a whole host of other famous people. She’s talented, charismatic, funny, and has a warmth that can light up a room.
However (and as you might guess, there is a “however”) her music career took an unexpected twist when it led Wincey to devote a large part of her life to combatting human trafficking. Here’s how it began.
Terry-Bryant in Schools
Terry-Bryant is often invited by school authorities across New York and New Jersey to share her valuable message.
“I teach students that God gave each of us a gift. Our job is to discover how that gift can bless others and help solve problems in the world.”
So, in between appearances that included the David Letterman and Arsenio Hall Shows, she visited school stages, to motivate hundreds of students at a time. Her goal was to inspire youngsters to be all they can be.
One day, while teaching a songwriting workshop for a class of girls, she asked the students “What shall we write about?”
“Human trafficking,” several of the young women answered, almost in chorus.
This took Terry-Bryant aback. She wasn’t expecting human trafficking to be top-of-mind for the young women at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but she went along with it. “Ok, what important facts should we include in our verses?
Facts about Human Trafficking
The youngsters were quick to answer.
“Children as young as two years old are trafficked.”
“A 76-year old woman was a victim of human trafficking”
“You can be boy-friended into trafficking.”
The facts and figures kept rushing in. Where does this happen, Terry-Bryant asked? She was expecting that the answer would be somewhere far, far away, like maybe Africa or India.
The students quickly clued her in. “It’s happening right here in New Jersey.”
They explained that human trafficking is prevalent in New Jersey because the state boasts several airports, seaports, and large number of interstate highways that crisscross the state.
As they told her, “A trafficker can grab a person and be in another state in less than an hour.”
Many times, victims are taken out-of-state before they can be reported missing. With so many neighboring states as potential hiding places, law enforcement doesn’t know where to begin looking.
Terry-Bryant’s anguished train of thought was, “I’m teaching them songwriting–and they’re changing my life!”
The girls completed the music assignment, Terry-Bryant gave them all hugs, and just barely made it to her car. “For the next two hours, I was bent over my steering wheel, sobbing. Finally, I called my husband, crying. You may have to come get. I’m not sure I can drive.”
This unexpected songwriting session, turned human trafficking 101, changed Wincey forever. Not long after, she founded Traffick Jam. It’s a global effort, and its mission is:
- To empower existing anti-trafficking NGOs objectives by educating new international workers to assist and support in varied areas of skill through train the trainer programs for workers worldwide.
- To pioneer new projects internationally to reduce harms caused by power imbalances, gender bias, and exploitation
- To empower exploited people through emotional healing, financial, educational and spiritual opportunities to restore their lives to their original God-given design
Traffick Jam reaches thousands of people each year through arts education programs that use live musical stage plays. Professional actors demonstrate strategies and tactics used by traffickers to entrap victims.
Wincey also collaborated with organizations and friends around the world to create the multi-lingual coloring book and cd set “Safe”. The book teaches early childhood audiences to recognize healthy relationships and practice safety.
For more information, visit TraffickJam.info. Among the rewards for visiting this site are six ways that you can raise human trafficking awareness.
Mitzi Perdue is founder of the Anti-Trafficking organization, Win This Fight, and author of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@WinThisFight.org or call her at 410 860-4444.