Hello, my name is Alma Jam. I was born and raised in Cameroon West Africa. At the age of 10, I moved to Idaho with my mother and three sisters to unite with my father in Pocatello. I am currently a sociology graduate student at Idaho State University. My academic emphasis are based on matters concerning human trafficking, female objectification and oppression. My long term goals are to finish my education in the Sociology, and possibly osteopathic medicine in the future. I would be honored to someday take this knowledge back to my homeland to help the women and children of my home country.
On September 19th 2015, I was crowned Miss Africa Idaho 2015. Miss Africa Idaho was founded by GK Folks Foundation based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a Cultural Education Scholarship Program with the aim of promoting the diverse African culture, providing education scholarship opportunities for young African women studying in the United States and educating the general public of Africa’s rich cultural heritage. As the winner, I was given the opportunity to promote a platform for a year and with no hesitation, I had picked human trafficking.
All my life I have been passionate in the efforts to eradicate human trafficking. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. Human trafficking defined in its simplest form is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery or forced labor.
Thousands of Cameroonian children fall victim to trafficking every year. Children are exploited as laborers on plantations and cocoa farms and also as workers in small shops, bars, and households. It is common for a middle-class family in Cameroon to have one or several children working for them in exchange for a very modest wage and minimal education. The practice of child labor in households and fields is a tradition that sometimes masks trafficking. In rural areas, children as young as 4 are expected to work. The children are expected to provide various services to the foster family in exchange for an education, vocational training, or money sent back to the family of origin. Gradually, traffickers began to exploit this intra-family help system. Exploitation can range from withholding pay, refusing or failing to educate the child and or physical and sexual abuse (SAIS 2014).
I choose this platform because human trafficking is happens everywhere. It does not solely discriminate on race, color, ethnic background or gender. It is hard to fathom the existence of modern day slavery, especially in the United States, and moreover, Idaho. However, it does exist and local occurrences, which affect our youth, are increasing. In the United States, and Idaho (just like in Cameroon), traffickers can be and are family members of the victim (ISDE, 2014)
The effects of human trafficking to the victims is beyond complete emotional and physical repair, however, I believe through awareness, fundraising, and education about this issue, the power to dramatically reduce the occurrences of such crimes and rehabilitate survivors to readjust and grow into supportive communities is possible.