Archive for the ‘Hope in Action’ Category

Because Everyone Loves Pyjamas

by Michelle Brock on February 3rd, 2015

Meg1 770x1024Sometimes, one simple sentence can spark action. That’s what happened to Meaghan Coneybeare a couple months ago, when she heard a presentation by the victim aftercare organization Walk With Me. One moment she was sitting in a room, listening and learning, and the next she was delivering hundreds of pyjamas to trafficking survivors and local organizations. Here’s what Meaghan had to say about the experience.

What gave you the idea of pyjamas?  Why did that resonate with you?

While at a screening of Red Light Green Light back in November, a speaker from the organization Walk With Me talked about their safe house and the needs they had. One of the items she listed off was pyjamas. Right away I could not stop thinking about these pyjamas. Being close to Christmas I knew that pyjamas would be an easily accessible and affordable purchase for donors.

I also knew what it felt like to have a pair of warm pyjamas after leaving an unstable & unsafe environment with just the clothes on my back. When I was 15 I went into foster care. I had just run from my home after a very bad altercation with my alcoholic mother. I grew up in a very unstable and at many times unsafe environment. My mother took a lot of her anger and frustration out on me physically, emotionally and verbally. That night, a couple days before my 15th birthday, was the last straw for me. I ran out of the house on a cold February night knowing in that moment I was going to be free of that life. I soon entered into foster care.

On the first night, still with the same clothes on my back that I had left with, my foster parents got me some new, warm items to wear, one of these being a pair of pyjamas. I still remember the feeling of putting it on and feeling that comfort, safety and even a glimmer of hope. I wanted to be able to give those same feelings to these women who were being rescued from human trafficking.

pjs

How many have you collected?

To date, I have collected over 450 pyjamas!  When I put the post onto social media, I really just thought a couple people might get into it and I’d end up with 5 or 6. Then within a couple hours so many people shared my message and wanted to give. I then thought 100 pairs would be a lofty goal but reachable. To have over 4x that is just so inspiring and shows just how generous our community is.

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve come across as a result of this initiative?

There have been so many surprising moments – how so many people came together to support this, how people showed up at the pyjama party to donate and learn more, how many people didn’t know [human trafficking] was happening in our own region.  And the fact I could even pull this off!  I myself have learned so much more about human trafficking by doing this.

There’s so much more involved than just getting these victims away from traffickers.  We also need to ensure there are supports in place for them to feel safe, to start a new life and to feel confident and hope again within themselves.  That they can feel safe in coming forward because that will help lead to more convictions.  I’ve also learned that I can’t stop talking about it.  I’ve been given an opportunity where people have listened to my story and are interested in learning more, and I want to continue to use my voice for this cause.

IMG 1305 300x300Is there a story that sticks out from the past couple weeks? 

At the pyjama party back in December, I was told by a Waterloo Regional Police Services officer that a group of students from KCI (Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School) wanted to come by and drop off some pyjamas they had collected. They showed up with 45 pairs!  I soon learned that the officer who is hired by the school volunteered some of his hours so that they could use that money to purchase pyjamas.  It was such a wonderful way to see them all come together on this project.

IMG 1414 225x300I also went to a woman’s surprise birthday party that her daughters put together. Their mom was very touched by the articles she had read about my initiative and her daughters thought that instead of gifts for their mom, they’d ask guests to bring pj’s. I also attended the party and surprised her as well. They generously donated 25 pairs of pjs. It’s these amazing stories of hearing how groups of people have been touched by this campaign and work together to make a difference that just inspires me!

What would you tell someone who is wanting to fight trafficking but has no idea where to start?

Many people come up to me asking how they can help, they’ve given pj’s now what more can they do.  I love that attitude!  I tell them to keep talking about it.  I want the buzz around this issue to continue.  I want it to get louder, so loud that you can’t ignore it.  The more we all become aware the more we can come together to end it.  And the more those still being trafficked will feel that there is support for them & people are listening.

Meg2 225x300What do you do when you’re not collecting pyjamas?  

I do work with youth at risk where I co-facilitate a group that meets twice a month to go out and volunteer in our community.  I’m also doing more work in the area of raising awareness of human trafficking and have partnered up with Timea Nagy of Timea’s Cause to do more in this area. In my down time I catch up on all the books I started reading, until the next project comes along that takes me away for awhile.

By the end of January, Meaghan had collected 500 sets of pyjamas, and joyfully delivered them to various victim service organizations.  All because one sentence, spoken at an awareness event, sparked an idea that will now bring comfort to hundreds.

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This Guy is Bicycling Across Canada to Fight Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on May 9th, 2014

Daniel Perrett is going on a bike ride…a BIG bike ride.  While most of us huff and puff our way through the spring, our bodies woefully unprepared to take on rigorous physical activity after months of winter hibernation, Daniel is ready to take on 5,000 km from Montreal to Vancouver.  His goal is to raise $10,000 for Chab Dai Canada, an anti-trafficking organization based out of Montreal.  We had the opportunity to meet Daniel at out McGill screening in April, and this week got to ask him some questions about the ride.  Today is his first day on the road!

Daniel Perrett1

What inspired you to choose Chab Dai, and what will the money you raise be used for?

When I was researching anti-trafficking organizations in Montreal, I learned about Chab Dai and was inspired by their vision to end human trafficking through collaboration and partnership building. When I dug a little deeper, I learned that Chab Dai Canada was in the process of fundraising to create the Canadian Freedom Registry; a database of anti-human trafficking organizations. All of the $10,000 I raise will go towards the creation of the Canadian Freedom Registry.

What kind of training have you been doing in preparation for your ride?

I have been talking with other bikers who have done the trip and spending time in the gym and doing cross training.

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What is the biggest challenge you anticipate on the road?

One of the biggest challenges will be loneliness. I will be on the road for 50 days and that’s a long time to go without seeing friends and family. I’m also expecting to face some serious headwinds, which can be pretty tough.

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Final preparations

What part of the ride are you most excited about?

It’s too hard to choose one thing. I can’t wait to tell people more about the Freedom Registry and have the news spread via the social media and TV. I’m also stoked to discover what Canada is really like in between Vancouver and Montreal. And of course, I’m excited to meet amazing people who are also fighting human trafficking.

How long will the ride take?

I leave today, May 9th and I hope to arrive back in Vancouver on June 28th. That’s 50 days to ride 5000km.

Here’s a video of Dan talking about why this issue matters to him.

 

TODAY, May 9, marks the FIRST DAY of Daniel’s ride!  He would love to raise the first $4,000 today, so make a donation at give.danielperrett.com and help him kick off his ride with a bang!  You can also follow his journey on facebook and twitter @danperrettweets, as well as get more info at danielperrett.com.

 

Daniel, we’re cheering you on!!

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Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath: A Crucial Time for YOU to Prevent Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on November 18th, 2013

Source BBC Getty ImagesThe 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.

Source KomoNews

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.

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This Is Me TV: Fashion & Fair Trade

by Michelle Brock on April 26th, 2012

I absolutely LOVE it when people use what they’ve been given to change lives!  Meet Amie Sider, an entrepreneur with a purpose.

This Is Me TV is having a Nationwares Giveaway!  The winner will be drawn on April 30th.

And don’t forget to check out Nationwares online!

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One Fine Fellow: Meet Kevin Makins

by Michelle Brock on December 5th, 2011

kevinThis 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!

Photo credit: Brooks Reynolds

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If I Should Have a Daughter…

by Michelle Brock on June 2nd, 2011

Girls,

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

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Can You See Me? Flash Mob in Trafalgar Square to Raise Awareness About Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on May 16th, 2011

Love146FlashMobWhat 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.

Make sure to read this blog post by Rob Morris from Love 146, which is where I found this clip:

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.

Well done Love 146 & team!

Michelle Brock

 

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Magdalene Rehabilitation House: Helping the Exploited

by Michelle Brock on May 11th, 2011

Here is a video clip I received recently from a friend.

  • Time and time again I hear about how girls on the street were sexually abused as children.
  • Time and time again I see how their so called ‘choice’ really just came out of desperation and manipulation.
  • Time and time again I witness how drugs are used as a vice for control.
  • Time and time again I am enraged that these women get criminalized and imprisoned while johns continue on their trucking routes.

But…

  • Time and time again I hear about places like Magdalene.
  • Time and time again I am moved by stories of radical change.
  • Time and time again I am inspired to hope.

Michelle Brock

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Freedom Week 2011 in Pictures

by Michelle Brock on March 18th, 2011

For those of you who missed it, here are some pictures from Freedom Week in BC (courtesy of Tara Teng).  I hope it inspires you to get behind the movement to end human trafficking!

Freedom Week Play 3

Through Their Eyes Theatre/Dance Performance

Freedom Week Play

Freedom Week Play 2Freedom Week Play Jamie MJamie McIntosh from International Justice Mission Canada

Freedom Week Play TaraMiss Canada Tara Teng addressing the crowd

Freedom Week PetitionPetition for National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.  Get your own here.

Freedom Week March 2Freedom Walk in Langley

Freedom Week March 3

Freedom Week March 1Freedom Week March 4Marika SiewertMarika Siewert performing.

Props to everyone who poured their energy into these events!  Your hard work is not in vain.

Michelle Brock

 

 

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The Girl Effect: A Movement of Opportunity

by Michelle Brock on November 18th, 2010

Zirahuen Food1 300x225Zirahuen, 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.

the girl effect1We 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.

I tell this story as part of the The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, which I discovered through my friend Roxanne Krystalli’s blog.  The Girl Effect is a movement that is spreading like wildfire, through clips like this:

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!

Michelle Brock

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