Meet an Abolitionist: Maddie Charnuski

Meet Maddie Charnuski, an energetic and personable university student who is passionate about ending modern day slavery.  I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her journey to date.  I hope that her answers inspire you to get creative and use whatever talents and resources you have been given to end injustice in our world!  She has certainly been an inspiration to me.

How did you first find out about human trafficking?

I first learned about human trafficking through my own research of becoming a global citizen. I had always heard the term but never knew what it meant. I was taught in school that the slave trade was over, but just by researching about it I quickly learned that it’s not the case. In grade ten I was fed up with only living for myself and decided I needed to become more educated about human trafficking and tell others about it.

Why are you so passionate about this cause?

I’m currently 18 years old and I believe that I’m no different than an 18-year-old girl living in Cambodia or anywhere else in this world. Just because I live in a ‘first world’ country doesn’t give me a right to forget about others in third world countries. The only difference is our place of origin; where we were born. I’m really not that different from these girls who are trafficked and raped every day. Human trafficking happens in every country, and I’m extremely passionate about educating others because though awareness people can better protect themselves. I believe human trafficking can end through education and people standing up against it. If there was no demand to buy, sell and rape these girls than the supply of these girls would significantly decrease.

What event did you put together at your high school?

At the end of grade 10 I started a Youth In Action chapter by Free the Children at my high school. My dream was to plan a community event to educate citizens and raise money for children in a developing country. This occurred in running an event called for Change in April 2010.

There were about 15 people involved in planning and helping make this successful. Tickets were sold for 5 dollars and included coffee/tea and pie. We sold around 200 tickets. We had students from our high school playing different musical instruments throughout the night. We raised over $2500 that night and sent it to a school in Namibia to buy school supplies. Most of the school’s students were orphans living on the streets or children living with their grandparents. Many of them are left vulnerable to become victims of human trafficking because they are living under the poverty line by themselves, desperate to find a better life. The school did receive the money and wrote back mentioning how thankful they were. It was a big success!

How did you get involved in making Christmas cards for trafficking victims this year?

For the past year, educating myself about the sex trade has been my main goal. However, this Christmas I really wanted to show these girls that they are so precious and not forgotten: that they are loved by the Lord and loved by me even though I don’t know them personally. An organization called A21 (abolishing slavery in the 21st century) gave an amazing idea for me to make a Christmas card and send it to a safe house for girls who have been victims of the sex trade. This was such a cool idea that I couldn’t just make one Christmas card! So I planned an event at my residence in University and also at my old high school’s Youth In Action group.

How did you plan the event?

I planned this event with my friend Laurie. We approached student council asking if we could take over a snack night (where members of my residence meet at night to hang out and eat snacks) to give students the opportunity to make Christmas cards! We had a table set up with facts about human trafficking and a place where residents could make these cards. After this event I travelled to my old high school to talk and educate approximately 20 students about human trafficking. After my presentation they had the opportunity to make Christmas cards as well.

How do the cards get sent there?

A21 gave us the address of the safe house in Greece, where these girls who have been traumatized by the effects of the sex trade will receive our cards. We came together this Christmas to tell these girls that people in Canada are thinking of them, praying for them, and saying that that we don’t think what has happened to them is okay.  We sent 68 cards to Greece!

Thanks Maddie for sharing your creative ideas with us!  For those of you who want to meet another abolitionist, check out September’s post on Seth Johnson.  If you want to help 19 victims of human trafficking in Canada this Christmas season, check out last week’s post and respond by December 18th!

Michelle Brock

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