Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Students produce play to fight human trafficking


February 14, 2019

Vicky Dorvee

Sunset Middle School students, Maya Lary (left) and Anna Eastland (right) have written a play titled “Trapped,” about the prevalence and horrors of human trafficking. Their show will be performed on Feb. 18 and 19, at Jester’s Dinner Theatre. All proceeds from the production go to 3 Angels Nepal to fight human trafficking.

More than 50 women and girls are taken from Nepal to India every day to begin a horrific existence as a sex slave. Learning about this statistic and an unfathomable number of young girls around the world being forced into lives of misery had such an impact on Sunset Middle School (SMS) students Maya Lary and Anna Eastland that they felt compelled to take action.

Every SMS student is in the Middle Years Programme (MYP), part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. MYP is centered on connecting students’ academic studies with society, preparing them to be involved in making the world a better place. To that end, every year students engage in a community project.

“By the time they’re in eighth grade, they identify something they’re passionate about, usually a civic issue, where they are trying to make a difference,” Assistant Principal Mary Ellen Graziani said. “The whole IB philosophy is to think globally and act locally, so they’re really empowered to try to find an issue where they can make an immediate impact in their community.”

Lary, a seventh-grader and Eastland, an eighth-grader, met while performing in a production of Shrek at SMS. The friends were walking around the SMS track during the school’s fundraising event when Eastland told Lary about a book she was reading and how she couldn’t seem to shake the story from her head. Sold is about a 13-year-old Nepalese girl who agreed to take a job away from her family as a housemaid only to discover that she had been sold into the world of human trafficking.

“While we were talking about it, we thought, ‘Why don’t we do this topic for our project?’” Eastland said.

Students have freedom in how they present their community project. For Eastland, who said she’d always wanted to write a play, deciding to create an experience for others was the best option. Not only would it bring the subject to life, but their hard work would also result in collecting donations for two organizations that work to eradicate human trafficking and to help victims,Operation Underground Railroad and 3 Angels Nepal.

“We wanted to show how naïve the two characters we play are, and how easily it happens,” Eastland said.

“We knew it was bad, but once we got into it we realized it was something that really needs to be handled,” Lary said. “It was girls our age…you look at yourself and you say, this is my life: I’m going to school every day and having good meals. And then you know there are other kids where all of that is happening to them and it just makes your heart break.”

She said she was obsessed with the topic and creating a story that would resonate with her local audience, so within a week they had written the first draft, and it took a month to polish it up.

Now in the rehearsal stage, a cast of 15 adults and students are preparing to present ‘Trapped’, an original play the pair created.

Operation Underground Railroad and 3 Angels Nepal, the benefactors of ticket sales and donations at the event, work to protect women and children from becoming victims of human trafficking. 3 Angels Nepal also provides orphanages, safe havens and tangible empowerment through education and training that ultimately changes lives.

The pair said the disturbing subject is too important not to tackle. Lary and Eastland have read about the worst things victims endure, and while they want to have an impact on their audience, they realize it’s not necessary to go to the extreme in portraying situations during their production. But they do warn parents the show is best suited for a mature audience.

Posters within the school read, “Hey kids, make sure your parents are okay with you seeing this show. It talks about controversial topics including sexual, physical and mental abuse, drugs and torture.”

What: Trapped, an original play by Anna Eastland and Maya Lary

When: 7:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 18 and Tuesday, Feb. 19. Doors open 15 minutes before the show.

How: Tickets are available at the door. $5 for students, $10 for adults.

Where: Jester’s Dinner Theatre, 224 Main Street, Longmont


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