OATH is dedicated to identify the victims of human trafficking and provide the services they need to restore their freedom.
Currently there are no paid staff positions. Everyone that works with OATH volunteers their time including the Executive Director. Full time volunteer Intern positions are available.
Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans (O.A.T.H.) was organized in 2008 by a small group of concerned citizens in Tulsa that had become aware of trafficking problems here in our state. The initial mission has been to bring awareness about human trafficking and the activity of traffickers operating here in Oklahoma and to create a victim-centered approach to our advocacy.
February 2009: O.A.T.H. acting director, Mark Elam, was invited by representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Department of State, US Attorney General’s Office, and Oklahoma City Police Department to become the state-wide agency promoting awareness and education about human trafficking in Oklahoma. Additionally Mr. Elam was asked to organize and moderate the FBI working task force on human trafficking and network agencies and service providers to join in the effort to identify victims of human trafficking and provide them the services needed.
March 2009: OATH, Inc was registered with the state of Oklahoma as a non-profit organization and soon after became a fiscal responsible partner with Communities Foundation of Oklahoma as an organization with 501(c)(3) benefits and accountability. Currently board members are being selected to give direction to the organization. Mr. Elam is the current executive director and all positions to date are volunteer positions. OATH, Inc oversees the O.A.T.H. Coalition, works to establish community Task Force working groups and is creating a network of partner agencies across the state to provide services for victim recovery.
February 2010: Mr. Elam was invited along with other national human trafficking experts to participate in the Bureau of Justice Affairs and the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute “Focus Group” to review the previous 10 years of U.S. effort in ending human trafficking and to provide a new model for the Department of Justice and HHS Department to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
April 2010: OATH partnered with Oklahoma Regional Community Policing Institute in conjunction with a grant through the District Attorney Council to conduct 8 hour CLEET-certified law enforcement trainings on human trafficking in every county throughout the state. To date, over 800 officers have attended this training.
July 2010: OATH formed the Tulsa Human Trafficking Task Force with over 40 federal, state and local agencies to expose and fight human trafficking in the Northeast sector of our state.
March 2011: OATH partnered with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children to provide the Internet Safety curriculum, Netsmatrz to schools and churches in Oklahoma. This program is now being offered to communities around the state in partnership with Oklahoma Colleges, Universities, Oklahoma Educators and PTA/PTO community groups.
February 2012: The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women established a proclamation to partner with OATH Coalition in the fight against human trafficking. Legislation will be drafted for a statewide task force that will conduct studies and develop the necessary protocols in our state to address the issue.
March 2012: OATH now conducts monthly volunteer meetings in a variety of locations across the state that are open to the public. You are welcome to attend, bring friends and family members that are just hearing about this issue to learn what is happening in your area. Community Action Teams are forming across the state to mobilize volunteers into practical hands-on participation in exposing and ending modern slavery in our state.
April 2012: Governor Fallin signed the first Proclamation in Oklahoma to declare the State of Oklahoma stands committed to protecting human rights and individual freedom by eliminating human trafficking, supporting OATH and encouraging more awareness and prevention measures throughout the state so that victims can be identified, criminals can be brought to justice and violence against women and children in the trafficking of humans will end.
1) How did you (Mark Elam) get involved in this issue?
Several years ago I saw a special on MSNBC where some men with International Justice Mission flew to Cambodia and worked with local law enforcement to rescue children from a brothel and get them to safety. The next year one of the young ladies from our Church returned from India informing us that children were being sold into labor and sex trafficking.
In 2006 I traveled to India, Southeast Asia and the Philippines to meet and work with organizations that rescue women and children from sex trafficking. We formed a nonprofit called “Angel Eyes” that supports the work of these organizations. Then in 2007 I learned that the US was also combating human trafficking here in our own country. I realized that this was what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life, so I sold my business to dedicate myself full time to this issue globally and locally.
2) How did OATH get formed?
Looking throughout our state to find an organization that we could partner with revealed that there was no ongoing effort or even knowledge of the issue. I traveled to visit with several of the DOJ H.T. Task Force cities to learn what they were doing and brought that template back to Oklahoma. We began meeting in 2008 in Tulsa and later that year the FBI formed the H.T. Task Force in Oklahoma City.
In February 2009 I was invited to the federal building in OKC where the Assistant US Attorney, FBI, and ICE agents commissioned OATH to become the statewide organization for awareness, education and networking victim services.
In Marchl 2009 OATH, Inc. was registered with the state of Oklahoma as a nonprofit charitable organization doing business in Oklahoma.
3) What is OATH doing to fight H.T. in Oklahoma?
There are many activities OATH is conducting that involve bringing awareness to the issue and educational training for professional agencies and organizations. Volunteer advocates of OATH conduct Awareness 101 presentations, work with legislators to form new trafficking laws, host awareness event fundraisers, participate in community forums and lead student clubs at their school, church or college.
Community Action Teams are forming across the state in a variety of activities including research, awareness, outreach and advocacy.
College interns assist OATH with research studies, outreach programs, events, booths, fundraisers, conference workshops, public school Internet Safety Program, project development and literature campaigns.
OATH contacts law enforcement and service agencies throughout the state to network as partners in the anti-trafficking Coalition for victim assistance. OATH partners with CLEET to train law enforcement, service providers and community leaders.
Mr. Elam helps facilitate the two Human Trafficking Task Force monthly meetings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa where partner agencies come together to work active cases.
OATH is currently moving into victim care through direct services by establishing a learning resource center, adolescent female group homes, safe homes and advocates to assure specific after-care programs for victims of human trafficking exist in our state. Staff positions will become available and posted as we develop these services.