There is currently a bag of red sand in my pocket. Why, you may ask? Because last night I went to the Unicef on Campus symposium launch event, where Molly Gochman spoke about the Red Sand Project.
Gochman is a New York City based artist, who became an activist once she learned about the continued prevalence of human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking. She decided to turn her “outrage into a movement” by creating the Red Sand Project, where she filled in the cracks of sidewalks with red sand to raise awareness for these people who seem to “slip through the cracks”.
The project grew, with people all over the world using the red sand to bring much needed attention to modern day slavery, sharing their pictures across social media with the hashtag #RedSandProject. As to why she chose this as her method to take a stand, Gochman said that it was “unobtrusive and approachable”: the project does not exploit survivors but rather starts conversations, especially with the red standing so starkly against grey pavement.
Gochman’s presentation was enlightening. Slavery is something that I had considered to be mostly in the past, and though I knew some human trafficking still took place, I had no idea how large the scope of the problem truly was. Once Gochman revealed that 40 million people are currently being trafficked, I had the same question she said she’d had on her discovery of this issue: how have I not heard about this?
The event overall was inspiring and empowering, and a perfect choice to kick off Unicef’s symposium – this year’s theme being ‘Children in Conflict: Gendered Vulnerabilities’. With the main event not taking place until April, Gochman’s talk gave only a taste of what’s yet to come. In the meantime however, there are plenty of cracks in the pavements of St Andrews just waiting to be filled with red sand.