Exploring individual meaning and family interaction for anti-human trafficking volunteerism in Romania
Leventhal, Julie E
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As the result of the growing attention to issues related to human trafficking, individuals all over the world are becoming more engaged in volunteerism related to this issue (Limoncelli, 2017). Given that Romania is an origin, transit, and destination country for human trafficking (United States Department of State, 2017), various anti-human trafficking organizations within the country specifically utilize volunteers to provide prevention and intervention services in the community (GRETA, 2016). The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the individual meaning and interactions within the family that may influence Romanians who participate in anti-human trafficking volunteerism within their own country of Romania. This research stems from the growing prevalence of human trafficking in Romania (United Nations, 2000) and the lack of research focused on both anti-human trafficking volunteerism and volunteerism within Romania. The researcher conducted nine face-to-face interviews with individuals volunteering within an anti-human trafficking non-governmental organization in Cluj, Romania. The volunteers’ interview transcripts were analyzed through first and second cycle coding. Methodological rigor was added to the study through the triangulation of data with member checking and peer debriefing. The findings of this study revealed diverse individual meanings and motivators for volunteering, such as personal or first-hand experiences, education and awareness, responsibility to others, and community or country pride. Volunteers also report mixed degrees of support from family members, ranging from pride in the volunteer’s involvement to a lack of interest or knowledge in the volunteer’s experiences. Regardless of the type of interaction within the family, individuals still had a desire to participate in anti-human trafficking volunteerism. Furthermore, throughout the interview process, many of the volunteers were continuously shaping the meaning of their volunteerism through dialogue with the researcher. It can be concluded that multiple meanings and motivators exist for anti-human trafficking volunteers and that this understanding may develop or change throughout the process of volunteering and through dialogue with others. Within the findings of this study, the researcher was able to generate implications for individuals, families, and institutions or organizations that utilize volunteers to combat human trafficking.