Two years ago, when Cameron Schroeder of La Crescent walked into a Remedy Drive concert, he never expected to walk out as a combatant against one of the world’s most sordid scourges, human trafficking.
But now as a senior at Luther High School, he’s done much of the legwork to bring David Zach, lead singer for Remedy Drive and undercover operative for Exodus Road to the La Crosse area Friday to raise awareness about human trafficking.
“When I heard David speak at a Christian music festival, I was captivated by his message,” said Schroeder.
Remedy Drive is an alternative rock group, but the message that day focused on Zach’s work with the Exodus Road, an organization that helps free underage girls trapped in the red-light districts of Southeast Asia.
Schroeder recalls being moved by “the scenes he described of being in the red-light districts where children were being sold.”
“I saw how much this affected him,” said Schroeder. “I knew I couldn’t do what he could, but I was definitely inspired to help.”
Over the ensuing months, the two worked together with the Pro-Life Knights at Luther and their sponsor to get Zach to the La Crosse area.
When Remedy Drive booked a show at Faith-Fest at Winona’s Pavilion for the last weekend in August, it was game on. The deal was sealed and the date set. Zach will share his experiences at the Luther event Friday evening, interspersed with acoustical guitar arrangements of Remedy Drive’s songs.
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck and representatives from the La Crosse Task Force to Eliminate Modern Slavery will also be part of the program.
“When we finalized plans to have David come and speak,” said Schroeder, we contacted the Task Force so people can see more of the local problem.”
The La Crosse Task Force consists of 50 people representing a cross section of the community. Weisenbeck said the Task Force will provide a resource table as well as an update on State and local responses to the trafficking issue.
“People don’t believe it happens here,” said Weisenbeck, “But there’s more happening than meets the eye.”
Weisenbeck explained that one of the primary missions of the Task Force is to raise awareness at the community level. To that end, she cited several examples including the new Church Women United initiative designed to alert hotel managers, a traffic-themed art show at Viterbo, and the upcoming Luther event.
“This is what we mean by mobilizing the community,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful this young student at Luther has become convinced he can do something about this.”
According to Schroeder, Zach’s music changed drastically after he became involved in the anti-trafficking movement.
“The trafficking issue has reshaped his music and the way he creates it,” said Schroeder.
On the Remedy Drive website under the Exodus Road entry, Zach bares his emotions in a blog called “Exploitation and Abolition.”
“I write from a coffee house on an overcast day in Southeast Asia with my sunglasses on because after a week over here I cannot contain the tears ... I have seen in the last several days, far too many children being sold and exploited to hold in the sadness,” Zach wrote in a blog entry.
According to Schroeder, Remedy Drive’s most recent album, “Commodity,” is an anti-trafficking album and “Exodus,” which comes out in September, is like volume two.
As dark and widespread as the trafficking problem might be, abolitionists find their satisfaction in being pinpoints of light. They focus on hope, bringing hope to as many trapped girls as they can reach.
Last year after releasing their album, “Hope’s Not Giving Up,” Zach wrote: “Hope is a melody ... she stands in the wreckage of lost accomplishment, she walks in the rubble of broken dreams, when the moon goes blood red and the stars fall, when the flood waters rise, when the bottom drops out – there’s hope, sweet hope, like a star burning bright when the sun goes down and the fears begin to fly.”
The Luther event is free, but an offering will be taken to further the work of the Exodus Road.