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The first Yellow Butterfly Project (YBP) conference focusing on human trafficking in the Midwest was held on Friday, September 28, 2018, at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. The project’s name stems from the idea of a yellow butterfly transitioning from a caterpillar. In the same sense, there needs to be a metamorphosis to educate society about human trafficking. “As a community, we need to transform to fight human trafficking and pass those changes to get to the beautiful butterfly,” said Shima Rostami, Founder and Principal Investigator of YBP.

When Shima, an international student from Iran, came to St. Louis, the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) offered a helping hand to support her passion in combatting human trafficking. Shima was excited to receive support from SSND through donations for the Midwest Human Trafficking Conference scholarships along with a grant for $5,000 from the Atlantic-Midwest Province. The grant is a partnership between YBP and SSND ministries in hopes that the Yellow Butterfly Project’s online platforms will reach a variety of audiences and make an impact.

An image of a little girl and yellow butterflys with the Yellow Butterfly Project logo.

Shima put in two years of hard work to see this project come to fruition while studying to earn her doctorate in education. She explains, “The goal of the Yellow Butterfly Project is to train students and educators on human trafficking and to facilitate groups who will engage in multi-disciplinary and project-oriented activities to train other community members on human trafficking.” Shima is truly a remarkable woman with a master’s degree in criminal justice and an undergraduate degree in law. She has worked endlessly on YBP in an effort to educate the public. It is Shima’s belief that by educating the public on human trafficking, it will eventually help connect activists and leaders in order to eradicate this modern day form of slavery.

The Yellow Butterfly Project focuses on raising awareness, education and engagement regarding human trafficking. The goal is to create a positive youth development environment with an emphasis on character education. According to Lindenwood University’s newspaper, Lindenlink, “‘The conference brought together the five main leaders within St. Louis’ human trafficking movement: the nonprofit Gateway Human Trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s office of St. Louis, the Missouri Attorney General’s office, the St. Charles Prosecuting Office and the Office for Victims of Crime in D.C.’” The price of the conference was affordable in an effort to attract influential people in the community such as law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers and human service workers.

Jillian Anderson, a prosecutor and the chief of the special victims unit for St. Charles, Missouri, says, “Over 200 attendees learned about the experience of victims, what to look for in our community to identify trafficking victims and how to assist them. The attendees also learned what law enforcement needs to investigate and build cases to hold the traffickers accountable.”

Following the conference, Shima continues to build and grow the YBP in an effort to educate society. There is still a lot to learn about human trafficking, and everyone has a role to play in an effort to eliminate this systemic problem.

Join the movement to end human trafficking by attending the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s annual Women’s Leadership Luncheons held in St. Louis, Dallas, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Milwaukee in the spring of 2019, where they will be educating the public on human trafficking. The luncheons will discuss the causes of human trafficking, who is targeted and what is being done to eradicate it. Attendees will gain an understanding of SSND’s stance on human trafficking and what sisters are doing to remedy the problem. The luncheon is free, please join us.

Register for a lunch near you.


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St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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