Meet Kayla, an incredible soul who has combined her passion of art, travel and putting an end to human trafficking into starting a non-profit, Operation 1:27. This organization is under Florida Abolitionist, and raises funds and awareness for local human trafficking prevention efforts. She’s spent the last two summers in Greece, learning more about the cause, and applying the knowledge to Operation 1:27.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Kayla Orr, I’m 24 years old, currently living in Orlando, Florida. This question’s always hard for me. I enjoy art and writing, love sports – especially spikeball at the moment. You can hear my laugh across the room, it’s sort of obnoxious, and I apologize in advance. I attend the most wonderful church, One Hope. I work full time at 4Rivers and am a proud UCF Alumni. I love business in the nerdiest type of way. Seriously, Shark Tank is my favorite show and I’ll read business and marketing blogs for fun.

Traveling became a passion very quickly. It helps me refocus, and allows me to try some great coffee shops along the way.

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2. Tell us about Operation 1:27

Based off of James 1:27, Operation 1:27 is an annual Silent Art Auction featuring all mediums of local art; from musicians, spoken word, tangible arts/crafts to baked goods. We organize all donations into a fun night of gathering together to learn about human trafficking, and bid on some amazing items. All funds are donated to Florida Abolitionist – Orlando’s local human trafficking taskforce, whose vision is ending human trafficking in all forms in Orlando, and all of the United States.

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3. What inspired you to start Operation 1:27?

My sophomore year of college I attended a conference, Passion. There was an artist on stage who painted to a song, and the message it conveyed was very moving. Being an artist and a new Christian, I had no clue where my gifts fit within the church, and that day I realized my gift of art could be used.

After attending Passion and learning that human trafficking is so prevalent locally, in my own city (and not just abroad), I decided to make this cause the focus of our efforts.

Art is a powerful voice against injustice, and artists were the original story tellers. Most of what we know about history was because an artist captured it on some medium, in their own unique way. Even today, we are still extremely moved by ancient art. I felt inspired to start the first Operation 1:27 event in Jacksonville, to raise money for local orphans and widows who are victimized by human trafficking.

4. What has been the most fulfilling part of this journey?

Seeing other people join the cause, and receiving so much joy from their generosity. Everyone is gifted in such unique, essential ways. For example: I’m a visionary, details drain me. I’ll forget something as simple as pens for the event. From logistics, event planning, communicating, teaching, catering – all hands on deck are needed for this type of event. It’s so amazing and joyful to stand back the day of the event and just watch God’s people – Christian or not – confidently walk in their gifts to make a difference in our community.

 

5. Did you ever feel like you wanted to give up? And how did you work through it?

Honestly, every year there is some thought of ‘why am I doing this again?’ or ‘this won’t happen again after last years event.’ Yet, I always end up doing it anyways. It’s tough planning an event of this magnitude in the midst of everyday life. At some points attending school full time, and working full time. I’ve often been overwhelmed with how large and complex human trafficking really is. Although, every year the Lord sustains me through my awesome friends and community, who really are the heroes in this story. I cannot do this without their selflessness, passion and support. Oh and coffee…tons of coffee.

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6. How does traveling to Greece tie into Operation 1:27?

In 2015, I went to Greece on a limb. My friend Lydia lives there so I decided to finally visit her last summer. I then connected with A21, an anti-human trafficking organization in Thessaloniki, Greece, to meet with them and learn.

In Greece prostitution is legal, as it always has been – even back to the temple days. I was blown away by how complex this issue is overseas. I was extremely curious if American business played a role in human trafficking abroad, since prostitution in itself is a business model of supply and demand. I learned very quickly it does, and what that looks like as a whole. I also learned about the need for companies to employee the rescued women, to help them learn job skills and earn an income.

During the summer of 2016, I went back again and connected with another organization. This time, I was able to visit brothels and see first hand what they look like and learn a different angle of rescuing and locating the victims. I can’t share the stories I heard or where we went, but I will say that to hear women as young as 14 and old as 21 are being held in a room for 12 hour shifts, really broke my heart and fueled my passion even more. It has led me to want to further understand business in the United States, and use art to raise funds to fight against human trafficking locally and overseas.

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(Black Beach, Santorini)

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(The Parthenon, Athens)

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(Black Beach, Santorini)

7. Tell us the highlight of your Greece trips.

Being refueled. Rest is so important, something Americans rarely value. We take pride in being the most prompt, professional and efficient. But to be in such a beautiful country with such joyful people really allows you to breathe and rest and laugh. Oh, and the food and coffee is a bonus.

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(Athens, Greece)

8. What cities and islands in Greece did you go to, and which is your favorite?

I’ve been to Athens, Milos, Hydra, Santorini and Thessaloniki. My favorite is Milos, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The beaches are pristine, the food is fresh, and the people and lifestyle is so simple and joyful.

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(Plaka, Milos)

9. What advice do you have for people looking to start their own non profit ?

In my honest opinion, while being as sensitive to peoples’ passions as I can, my advice is to research and fully think through it. The process is frustrating alone and expensive. Look around first to see if you can join a local group and get on board with what they are already implementing. There are too many small organizations – if like minded people could join together think of the impact and funding available. There is power in numbers.

10. How can readers support Operation 1:27 ?

Our event is once a year, so of course we’ll need help then. We also need help all throughout the year in different ways! Give your time, talent and/or treasure. You give where your heart is.  If you’re in Orlando, sign up to volunteer and learn more at Florida Abolitionist’s website. If you’re not in Orlando, then join your city’s taskforce. If there isn’t one, help get one started. That is how you can help the most.

Check out Operation 1:27 on Facebook

Email Kayla at Operation127@gmail.com

Follow her on IG @kaymarieee0909