The novel Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison begins with the 2006 tsunami crashing into the Indian coast, plunging entire communities into chaos. In the midst of the disorder, two young girls fall prey to traffickers. This scenario is unfortunately all too real in regions of devastation.
Most natural disasters heighten the vulnerabilities of children who are already at-risk for sexual exploitation. Typhoon Haiyan is no different. When a child is separated from their parents or have lost their family altogether, human traffickers have a unique window of opportunity to kidnap and sell them into the sex trade. In fact, some countries have been known to bar pedophiles from flying to disaster zones, in an effort to stop them from taking advantage of such profound vulnerability.
So it is with urgency that I ask you to consider making a donation to relief efforts in the Philippines. The government of Canada is currently matching donations made by individuals to relief organizations like World Vision. With 55 years of experience in the Philippines and staff members based throughout the country, they are working closely with government disaster response teams to assist with immediate and long term needs.
Your gift will help bring vital relief to children and families impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, by providing lifesaving essentials and emergency supplies like: food, blankets, household supplies, hygiene kits, shelter and clean drinking water.
Donate online here or call 1-866-595-5550 to make a donation over the phone.
Let’s all jump on board to provide relief for those affected by this typhoon, and by doing so reduce the vulnerabilities of at-risk men, women, and children.
This is Kevin Makins. My husband and I were honoured to have him as a groomsman at our wedding and think he is one of the coolest people around.
Recently Kevin was at a barber shop and overheard some guys talking about snuff films, which contain rape, torture and murder of women. One of the men started to describe the one he had watched, saying that he didn’t care about the women because he didn’t know them.
Kevin confronted him and told him that it was disgusting, dehumanizing and awful. When the man responded by saying that “it only happens far away overseas,” Kevin clarified some of the realities of the sex trade industry, pointing out that there had been rings busted in Toronto and Hamilton. The guys seemed embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.
As a woman, I can raise awareness all I want, but when men step up and say that exploitation, paid sex, and human trafficking are not acceptable, that is when change really begins to happen. Someone needs to tell johns like this one that women are human beings with value and worth, and are not products to be sold and consumed.
Kevin, thank you for being willing to get uncomfortable by speaking up. Men, I hope this serves as an inspiration for you to not stay silent when an opportunity presents itself. I am so deeply grateful to those of you who are trying to live a life that does not exploit vulnerability, and I encourage you to keep at it, day by day!
Never stop dreaming.
Never stop standing up for what is right.
Never stop seeing the blessing in the midst of heartache.
Never stop being a voice for the exploited.
Never settle for status quo. Never let critics determine the course of your life.
Instead be devoted to mercy. Love justice. Pursue compassion. Have courage.
Do hard things.
Take a leap of faith.Be different. And change the world. Michelle Brock
What happens when passionate abolitionists join together with top stars and dancers from London’s West End musicals? A flash mob in Trafalgar Square! Rachel Tucker, the star of Wicked, leads this performance, bringing awareness about exploited children that go unnoticed and what Love 146 is doing to help.
This goes to show that raising awareness about serious issues does not have to be gloomy. Let’s remember that there is HOPE!! These dancers and singers gave it their all and made people smile, inspiring thought and action.
Zirahuen, Mexico. This small, sleepy town of about 2,500 was my home for a month as my husband and I backpacked through Central America. As we wandered the adobe brick streets one afternoon in search for a restaurant, we discovered an open kitchen with tables out front. A delightful woman (pictured here) made us a delicious home-cooked meal of burritos. Her young daughter came and served us. She was 15, at most. And pregnant. Her mother told us she was going to be a grandmother. The girl avoided our gaze.
We ate there a few times, and often saw the girl looking out the window at girls her age playing on the streets. She did not go to school. Her eyes were sad even when she smiled. And despite her missed opportunities, this one at least had a mother with a small business. Many girls find themselves neck-deep in poverty, with no one to turn to. Missed opportunities for these girls are more than just an inconvenience, they are a recipe for exploitation.
My husband and I support young women through Kiva micro credit loans in our attempt to empower those who want to rise above poverty. Giving girls and women opportunities is a key component of reducing systemic vulnerability. The Girl Effect seeks to equip us who have opportunity to empower those who would like to dream. Like Anita from India.
To learn more check out The Girl Effect website. It is through movements like this that we can address the supply side of sex trafficking and spread some hope!
I received the coolest gift in the mail recently. Inside the envelope was a picture of a group of friends celebrating a birthday, and a cheque to to support what I do at Hope for the Sold. I was intrigued. What was this all about?
On the back of the picture was a note from Bec Goodman, the birthday girl. She is part of Birthday Wishes 2010, an initiative started by a group of friends to make a difference in the world. On each person’s birthday, instead of going out for a meal or spending money on a group activity, they pool their money together and give it to an organization that is chosen by the person whose birthday is being celebrated.
Bec explained that while living in Turkey she learned of the plight of trafficked women, and now is passionate about addressing this social injustice. This led her to choose Hope for the Sold on her birthday! I contacted Ben Pavey, who played a key role in starting Birthday Wishes 2010, and asked him some questions about what they are doing.
How did you get this idea and how did you convince 50 friends to come on board?
Last year around Christmas, a group of friends went out to a restaurant for a birthday party after dinner time, but we each still spent about $20 on a meal that we didn’t really need. I looked around and thought, ‘we are supposed to be students with little disposable money, but we clearly aren’t.’ So maybe we could be putting this money to better use. And that’s how the idea of sharing our birthdays with different charities and organizations came about.
How has it changed the way you view and celebrate birthdays a a group?
It’s been really neat to see the guests at the parties grow larger and larger as we’ve gone through the year. We’ve celebrated almost 20 birthdays so far, and have had from 10 to 40 people join in. It’s been great to hear people’s excitement and eagerness to be part of something like this; redirecting our focus onto others rather than ourselves.
Is this something you would recommend to other groups who want to make a difference?
There are so many great ideas out there. People just need to learn how to escape from their own comfort and complacency, and this is how we’ve decided to do that. It’s sometimes unnerving to change things up in your life – afraid of what others might think of you, or whether it will catch on and people will want to follow that movement. But regardless, if you feel in your heart that you should make this change in your life, then do it.
What has been the most rewarding part of this for you guys? Any cool lessons you have learned or stories that have come out of this?
We’ve got a facebook group page for Birthday Wishes which has 50 members, ranging from all different ages and social circles. And this initiative has really brought a lot of these people together. It’s helped to build new friendships and a stronger community.
We always get together at somebody’s house whether for games, a barbecue or a beach party. These things bring people together so much closer than any big dinner party at a restaurant. There is time to dig deeper in conversation, get to know one another on a more personal level, and put whatever money we might have to a much better use! Overall, it’s just been a huge blessing to see this little seed of an idea build into so much more, where 50 young adults are actively giving away their money to charities throughout the entire year (over $4000 to date for the 2010 year), and in doing so building community with one another. It’s pretty awesome.
Wow. I am blown away. What a creative way to make the world a better place. Thanks so much Bec for thinking of Hope for the Sold on your birthday, it is such an honour!