BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
Karen Fettig of Manderson will be riding across Wyoming on donkey and mules starting June 30 to draw attention to the human trafficking crisis.
She will start at Belfry, Mont., and end at the Wyoming/Colorado line south of Laramie on July 19. Following her with a horse trailer will be her husband Clint. The horse trailer has a custom wrap that has information about human trafficking and how to get help.
Fettig is the founder of Beneath Our Wings Ministry. Its Facebook page states, “Beneath Our Wings Ministry is located in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. We are dedicated to bringing awareness on human trafficking, sexting and other subjects that may affect the youth (especially girls) and families in our communities, through seminars and other training events.”
The first leg of the ride will be Belfry to Badger Basin. After spending the night there she will travel from Cody to Burlington. She will take a break on July 4 to be in the Cody Stampede and Ten Sleep parades.
The ride won’t be a straight ride from point A to Z because of the dangers some of the routes present. Fettig drove the routes she will be taking with safety in mind. For example there are 11 bridges between Powder River and Casper. Taking an animal across a bridge could be dangerous as there is no barrow ditch.
She said that she has noticed that even when she is riding on the shoulder of local roads/highways, people in vehicles don’t slow down at all. She fears that on the interstate the issue would be the same. Fettig mapped a route that would be safest for people in vehicles, her animals and herself.
Along the way she will be handing out brochures and magnets. Some of the brochures are designed to help medical staff recognize the signs of a patient that may be in a human traffic ring.
The magnets are in English and Spanish. She would like to see them placed in bathroom stalls in public places. The magnets have numbers to call for help.
Fettig likened the ministry’s name, “Beneath Our Wings,” to a mother hen. She said “I want to gather victims under my wings to protect them. We all should want to. We need to educate our children in Wyoming that this can happen to them.”
According to Fettig:
• The life expediency of a victim is just seven years. They are often killed and their organs are sold on the black market.
• A trafficker usually picks up a runaway in Denver within 48 hours.
• Kids are targeted through social media. A girl may post a picture of herself and the trafficker will comment about how beautiful she is. The girl will think she is in love very quickly and not realize she is being groomed.
• Boys are victims, too.
• Victims are often branded.
• Transgender and cross dressers are targeted as well.
Fettig realizes that people may not think there is a problem in small town Wyoming but it can happen anywhere. She wants parents, adults, families, medical professionals, teachers, etc., to educate themselves to know the signs and to be able to educate and warn youth.
There is more information about trafficking on the Beneath Our Wings Ministry Facebook page. Fettig and others are available to present seminars.
You may follow the ride on the Facebook page. You may also donate to help offset the cost of the brochures and magnets on the page. Just click on “Shop now.” Donations may also be mailed to 689 Highway 31, Manderson, WY 82432.