This Pirate has found
her calling and is acting on it.
This Pirate shares her vision for a world void of human trafficking
Andi Justice’s world changed the day she learned about human trafficking on a mission trip to Belize.
The ECU senior traveled with Oakmont Baptist Church in 2011 when she met a 10-year old girl who was being trafficked by her father. “She lived with her mom during the week and during the weekends her dad sold her in the tourist areas of the country,” said Justice.
Unable to get the memory of the child out of her head, Justice emailed one of her Belize hosts, Julie Maas, to ask how she could help stop human trafficking. Maas, an ECU alumna, encouraged Justice to return to Belize to volunteer with the Child Development Foundation (CDF), a non-profit organization that responds to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
That’s when Justice had the idea to turn her ECU Williams Leadership Award service project into a human trafficking awareness campaign that ties into a CDF program called “Sell Tacos, Not Children.”
The campaign was originally started by the director of CDF, Diana Shaw. “Diana thought it would be a great idea, but it wasn’t as successful as they thought it could be,” said Justice. “All of my friends back home thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I asked Julie, ‘Could I try to make this into something really exciting?’”
And that is exactly what Justice did. “I made T-shirts and they were a huge hit. As soon as I sold one, everyone wanted one,” she said.
Justice took all of the money she raised from selling T-shirts and donated it to CDF, then made more shirts and sent them directly to Belize. “The shirts were really hot here, but even bigger in Belize - they just took off,” she said. “CDF said, ‘We want more,’ so I brought back more and pretty soon I was sending them T-shirts multiple times a year.”
Justice has been to Belize five times and has spent more than 1,000 hours volunteering with the foundation. She takes shirts with her every time she goes. “Last time I went in May, I took 60 T-shirts and they’ve already all been sold,” she said. “It’s been great helping them raise awareness and money.”
While in Belize, Justice teaches elementary and high school classes with as many as 250 students in them. “I’m basically teaching sex ed,” she said. “I talk about the kinds of things you would learn in a U.S. curriculum, but then I go into that further and talk about abusive situations and signs that you may be going into a trafficking situation.”
After teaching, Justice distributes educational materials including a wristband that has a 24-hour hotline number for a CDF worker. “When I was in Belize last time, I saw them constantly answering that hotline, so it’s really neat to see how just by going into the schools and giving them that number, CDF has been able to make someone’s situation better or go in and rescue someone.”
Justice, who will graduate in May with a degree in elementary education, said love motivates her to stay involved.
How can other people get involved?
If someone reads this and they want to know what they can do, I would tell them to get involved locally. Restore One is an organization in Greenville that is working on building a safe home for boys who are trafficked. That issue is hidden under the rug, but it is a huge issue. They are always looking for volunteers.
The other thing I would tell them is to start small. I started out just wanting to do something to help, and I had no idea it would turn into what it has. Pick a place to volunteer, give your time and observe what their needs are and let it grow from there. You may have an idea or a resource that would be meaningful in someone’s life.
Why elementary education?
I grew up wanting to be a teacher; it’s in my blood. My grandparents and parents are teachers. When I came to college, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a teacher. I'm now learning just how valuable a degree in education can be in the classroom and out in the world.
What are your plans after graduation?
I want to use my education training as a form of ministry, but I’m not yet sure where that path will lead me. I may not end up in a traditional classroom, but I do want to teach others, bringing a message of hope and healing. If I can do something similar to the type of work I've done with CDF, then that would be awesome. Ultimately, I really want to make sure I'm serving others in the best way that I can.
Why did you decide to come to ECU?
My parents (Sharon and Charlie Justice, who are both professors in ECU’s College of Business) were that couple who brought their newborn infant to Pirate football games, so I grew up in Greenville being a die-hard ECU fan and not wanting to go anywhere else.
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
Written by: Grace Haskin
College: College of Education
Majors: Elementary Education
Hometown: Greenville, North Carolina
Hobbies & Interests: Building and painting furniture, cake decorating, sewing, photography, piano, eating tacos and coaching high school cross country
Clubs & Organizations: ECU Orientation Assistant and Collide Ministries
Hangout: My family’s river house on the Pamlico River
Place on Campus: Trustees Fountain at Wright Circle
Place to Eat: Zaxby’s
Class: The elementary linked classes: ELEM 3100, 3200 and 3300, co-taught by Jennifer Adams and Paige Everett.
TV Show: Scandal
Musician/band: Ben Rector
Movie: The Little Mermaid
Most Influential Professor: Jennifer Adams
Dream Job: Founding a non-profit that serves at risk youth.
You Can’t Live Without: My camera; I take pictures everywhere I go.
Role Models: My parents, Sharon and Charlie Justice, lead by example and continuously make me want to do more to love and serve others.
Words to Live By: “I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him.”- Katie Davis
Advice to Fellow Students: Learn to make your own decisions. Whether it’s a “no” to following the crowd, or a “yes” to something you’re passionate about, learning to make your own decisions while you’re young is so beneficial to your future success.
Something cool about ECU you wish you knew as a freshman: Most people know about the clown that comes out of the clock tower. Along with the clown are a rooster, a cannon, and trumpets that come out at other times throughout the day.
“Learn to make your own decisions. Whether it’s a “no” to following the crowd, or a “yes” to something you’re passionate about, learning to make your own decisions while you’re young is so beneficial to your future success.”
– Andi Justice