This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of flying down to Fremont, CA to help my friend, Bettie Ann Boeving, with the Freedom Summit. Bettie Ann is the Founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, which is comprised of organizations throughout the Bay Area that are working together in order to wipe out the trafficking of humans in this particular area of the country, as well as compelling people to act on a local and global level.
The Freedom Summit had over 1700 people in attendance, and over 35 speakers for the plenary and breakout sessions combined. It was truly an awesome thing to be a part of.
And as a result of this conference, my brain is one major convoluted mess of imformation, that is causing me to lose sleep as I try to disseminate this information and allow God to speak through it and propel it into action in my own life.
If there is one thing I came away with from this conference, it is a lack of despair. And that is a new response for me. Let me explain.
I first heard of this concept of "human trafficking" while teaching in the Czech Republic. On the weekends and holidays, a few of us would often travel throughout the country. On one such occasion, we visited a town called Tabor. This town is known primarily for the Hussite movement, started by Jan Hus (Protestant reformation). What many do not know, and something we just stumbled upon, is that Tabor was a gateway city for the trafficking of young Russian girls to be snatched from Russia and sold to Europeans. Absolutely tragic.
And coupled with this was a student of mine, Yelena. When I met Yelena, she had just arrived from Bosnia and was living with her Czech aunt. Her story, the bits and pieces she was willing to share, were absolutely horrific. She had to flee her native country due to Civil War. She witnessed her classmates shot and killed right in front of her. She witnessed her parentless female friends get snatched and most likely trafficked. She was one of the lucky ones to get out.
And, as I have attended lectures, classes, seminars, watched films, heard speakers, it is quite easy to become, as Gary Haugen of IJM puts it, "paralyzed by despair."
And unfortunately, for many of us, this is where our journey ends.
And quite frankly, we canNOT let it end here. We need to feel the despair, aka compassion, lean into it, claim it, and then leave it at the foot of the Cross.
So, what can we do? Well, I heard it over and over again at this conference.
A modern-day abolitionist movement is a grassroots movement.
With more slaves today in bondage than EVER before historically, it is time for each of us to do our part.
I am going to break it down into two parts, Education and Engagement. Education is a list of resources for you about human trafficking. Like any area of social justice, there is a potential to do more harm than good if we are not informed. The second category is engagement - tangible ways in which you can get involved.
1. Not For Sale by David Batstone
2. The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales
3. The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen
4. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof
1. Call + Response
2. At the End of Slavery
Web Sites to Bookmark
4. http://www.nytimes.com/ (follow Nicholas Kristof's editorial/blog)
1. Phone Applications:: Two organizations, Call + Response and Not For Sale have these awesome, free phone applications that allow us to combat child slave labor through our purchasing choices.
Call + Response's app allows you to scroll through the brands that you love to buy, see if they have chosen to be a slave free company, and if not, you can send them a letter right from your phone.
Not For Sale has their Free2Work app which is similar. I usually check this app before I go to a store that is a specific brand to see what their rating is. Imagine my surprise, for example, that Carter's has an "F" rating in relation to slave free labor.
Bummer. And yet, how can I buy baby clothing knowing that they exploit babies, forcing them to work and most likely starving them or physically harming them in the process?!?!
Go to their web sites (listed above) and download these applications.
2. Demand Fair Trade. Start demanding Fair Trade at your local stores. Are you thinking that this is too difficult? Consider how much the organic foods industry has grown over the past year. That is the direct result of consumer demands. Your voice is powerful. Check out our friends at http://www.tradeasone.com/ for ways in which you can get involved. One idea? Start selling Trade As One products at local fundraisers, or host a party at you home.
3. Coupled with #2, start investing in Fair Trade items in your pantry as well. I know it seems daunting and expensive, but if you start slowly and are more intentional in what you buy, it is really not more expensive and you will most likely find yourself throwing out less expired stuff from your pantry that you forgot about.
4. Church Engagement:: This is an area one could spend a lot of time, so let me just again direct you to some links on sites for ways in which you and your church can take this commitment to abolish modern day slavery to a deeper level.
One of the areas I learned about through this conference is local church engagement through IJM (International Justice Mission) and more on that can be found here:
Another area I learned about that I, myself, am very interested in becoming is a Citizen Investigator through Not For Sale. I am hoping to go this summer. Want to join me?!?! Check it out:: http://nfsacademy.org/
5. Host a Screening: I have done this one numerous times and even though it is no small thing to commit one's home (aka CLEAN IT!), buy and make refreshments, and then get people to show up, I have never regretted it. If you go to Call + Response's web site, you can purchase an entire Home Screening Kit for only $20. This is a great way to find like-minded people, watch a powerful film together, and then brainstorm collectively about how you can further your engagement.
6. Attend our Justice Conference: What a phenomenal way to further one's knowledge and get inspired to engage. The Freedom Summit was life-changing for me. It took me out of the addicitive bubble of stagnation that life can become, it ignited the passion that God had put in me, and it inspired me to action along with many, many others. Our conference here in Bend is Feb. 11th and 12th. Go here for more information: http://www.thejusticeconference.com/
7. Lastly, I am going to take my own calling a step further. I am looking for some local moms who would like to meet monthly and explore together how we can engage ourselves and as a result, engage our families. If that is something you would like to be involved in, please email me at: familiesforjustice.gmail.com
It does not take a rocket scientist to be involved in eradicating human slavery.
It is a movement,
a grassroots movement,
made up of individuals just like you,
just like me.