For the next four months, Vanguard University's Global Center for Women and Justice is hosting a Libyan community leader to strategize against human trafficking, learn how rampant it is in Orange County's Arab-speaking community and educate the same folks about it.
The U.S. State Department's Community Solutions Program has 60 community leaders from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Western Hemisphere serving as fellows this year with U.S. host organizations that address various societal issues. Vanguard's Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) was chosen to host Zakariya El Zaidy, co-founder and COO of Mercy Wings, which is dedicated to making positive changes in Libya.
As of Monday, El Zaidy had joined the program at the private Costa Mesa university, which was founded by the Assemblies of God church, to work with and learn about human trafficking issues.
This is being done in partnership with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, which is composed of law enforcement, nonprofits, victim service providers, faith-based groups and county agencies, including the district attorney's office. Through the collaboration, El Zaidy will be tasked with helping on a strategic assessment of and educational outreach plan on human trafficking for Arabic speaking communities in Orange County. He'll work alongside Derek Marsh, retired deputy chief of the Westminster Police Department and a member of the county task force.
"Trafficking is not only a local issue, it's a global issue," Marsh explained. "We need to address this issue more holistically rather than county or country specific. The more we understand that, the more we can create best practices and prevent future trafficking here and abroad."
The GCWJ's participation in the State Department's Community Solutions Program is scheduled to continue through December.