Archive for the ‘What You Can Do’ Category

Ride a Bicycle, Prevent Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on September 10th, 2014

Check out our new Ride for Refuge video!

Register a team or sign up as a rider here!

Can’t join the RIDE?  Donate directly to Hope for the Sold or support a RIDE team.

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Ride for Hope for the Sold in This Year’s Ride for Refuge!

by Michelle Brock on September 9th, 2014

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This year’s Ride for Refuge is fast approaching, but there is still time to sign up, dust off your bike, and get ready for ride day!

Ride for Refuge is a fantastically fun, family-friendly bike-a-thon supporting charities serving the displaced, vulnerable, and exploited.  It’s taking place on October 4 in 30 locations across the country, and is a great way to support organizations like Hope for the Sold.

 

Hope for the Sold is still looking for riders and team captains for the RIDE.  You can read more about our vision and what you’d be supporting here.

Check out the city listing and register today!

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Red Light Green Light is Headed to the U.S.!

by Michelle Brock on August 27th, 2014

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In June, we wrapped up a cross-Canada film tour with our documentary, Red Light Green Light.  Here are some road highlights from the last 8 months:

  • Did 85 screenings across 8 provinces
  • Survived snowstorms in Thunder Bay and the Rockies
  • Collected thousands of petition signatures
  • Met dozens of MPs, MPPs, MLAs, police officers, social workers, and other service providers
  • Met survivors of exploitation/abuse in almost every audience
  • Testified before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-36

 

US

While Canada has been our focus to date, trafficking prevention is something that every country needs to be discussing.  This fall, we will be headed across the border to do a U.S. film tour!  We want to plant seeds of awareness with the hope that each state will adopt laws and initiatives that prevent commercial sexual exploitation.  We hope to partner with local organizations that are already doing important work, and believe that Red Light Green Light could be a valuable tool to rally up support for anti-trafficking efforts across the country. So here’s where you come in.  Do you know anyone in the U.S. who would be interested in hosting a screening of Red Light Green Light?  Our plan is to hit the following states:

Upstate New York (ie. Niagara Falls/Buffalo/Utica/Syracuse)
Boston MA
Providence RI
New York City NY
Washington DC
Lynchburg VA
Charlotte NC
Atlanta GA
Jacksonville/Daytona Beach/Orlando FL
Lantana FL
Sarasota FL
Tampa FL
Tallahassee/Mobile/New Orleans
Houston TX
San Antonio/Dallas TX
Phoenix AZ
Las Vegas NV
San Diego CA
Los Angeles CA
Santa Barbara/Monterey/Santa Cruz/San Jose CA
San Francisco CA
Sacramento CA/Redding CA/Eugene OR/Salem OR
Portland OR
Seattle WA
Spokane/Missoula/Helena/Butte/Great Falls MT
Colorado Springs/Denver CO
Lincoln NE
Kansas City MO
Minneapolis MN
Chicago IL
Gary/Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids/Lansing/Ann Arbor/Indianapolis MI
Louisville KY
Nashville TN
Knoxville TN
Cincinnati OH/Dayton OH/Columbus OH/Pittsburgh PA
Akron OH/Cleveland OH/Toledo OH/Detroit MI

RED LIGHT POSTER RGB 662x1024The tour starts NOVEMBER 1st, so we need your help today.

Take some time right now, or in the next few days, to contact your American friends and encourage them to host a screening of the film in their community.  If you know folks on our route that might be willing to jump on board (and who might have the connections and capability to pull off a good event), we’d love for your to connect us!

The easiest way is for you to shoot an introduction email their way and CC Michelle (hopeforthesold@gmail.com), and she will follow up with more details. Here’s a sample you can personalize and email to your friends (be sure to include the links so they can check out the website and trailer):

 

Hi ___________, I’d like to introduce you to Michelle Brock, the co-director of Red Light Green Light, a documentary about sex trafficking. Michelle and her husband Jay run a charity called Hope for the Sold, and went to 10 countries to examine the best ways to prevent commercial sexual exploitation. They just finished an 85 city cross-Canada tour with the film, including a Parliamentary screening for government officials in Ottawa, as well as a bunch of churches, universities, and women’s crisis shelters. 

Jay and Michelle are currently planning a film tour in the U.S., and are looking for schools, churches, and other groups that might be interested in hosting a screening in the fall. I’ve CC’d Michelle on this email, and she will send you a follow up email with some more details. In the meantime, you can check out the film trailer and synopsis right here.

Excited to bring Red Light Green Light to the U.S. of A!

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How To Prevent Your Child from Falling Prey to a Trafficker on Facebook

by Michelle Brock on July 30th, 2014

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“Heyy thanks for adding me your very pretty would you be interested in a job making easy money.”

“hey sexy how you doing im rico…i just wanna say you sexy and I will love for you to come get this money with me i see a lot of potential in you.”

“What up Bri? Call me soon as u get this love so we can chop it up and get better acquainted..”

“I LOVE trapping on the weekends. #$Money Making Mission.”

These are some facebook status updates and messages taken from court documents, showing how pimps recruited girls into prostitution by making initial contact online.

A couple years I met a girl in the Oakville area who had accepted a friend request on facebook from some “cute older guys.” They told her they could hook her up with alcohol and get her into all the parties.  She was in high school at the time, and had no idea these older boys were traffickers on a mission to recruit.  As the relationship developed, she was gradually groomed into prostitution.  (I recently came across a similar story online – you can listen to Nina’s story here).

textingThis is happening all over the world.  In Indonesia, 27 of the 129 children reported missing to its National Commission for Child Protection are believed to have been abducted after meeting their captors on Facebook.  The internet has no cultural or socio-economic boundaries.  While many trafficking victims have traditionally been lured or abducted from marginalized or impoverished communities, the internet has opened up the playing field to include middle and even upper class homes.  Teenagers and children are curious and hungry for compliments regardless of socioeconomic status, and traffickers can easily access them via facebook, twitter, and texting at all hours of the day.

For parents, this is a poses a real challenge.  Cell phones, the very thing that parents often want their kids to have for safety purposes, may be the tool that undermines their safety in the worst way.  Social media, which is supposed foster good relationships, sometimes acts as a breeding ground for toxic ones instead.  So what’s a parent to do?

The FBI has identified some warning signs that your child may be at-risk online:

  • Your child spends large amounts of time on-line or texting, especially at night
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer/phone
  • Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family
  • Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else

 

Here is a list of tips for parents regarding internet safety that could be quite helpful.  Instruct your children:

  • to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line
  • to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know
  • to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number
  • to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images
  • to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing
  • that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true

You can read the full FBI Parent Guide here, and some more social media tips here.  Below is a conversation between a pimp and a teen’s parent who stepped in (taken from this CNN Money article):

PimpConvo

family dinner 300x300The most powerful way to traffic-proof your child is to have a strong relationship with them.  This starts at the youngest of ages.  Maybe it’s time to make regular family dinner a bigger priority.  Or to get a new job that allows for more quality time with your kids.

Investing into your kids when they are young can pave the way for a healthy relationship when they are teenagers, and that is a challenging hurdle for pimps to overcome.

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Order Your Postcards Today & Help Bring the Nordic Model to Canada!

by Michelle Brock on February 24th, 2014

Canada Post Mailbox1 1024x682In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling on prostitution, three organizations – EVE, Sextrade 101 and the London Abused Women’s Centre - have launched a national postcard campaign.  The initiative highlights the Nordic Model as the way to move forward, and based on the following components:

  • Decriminalize persons being sold
  • Penalize buyers, pimps, and procurers
  • Mandate robust funding to women wishing to exit the sex industry

 

The goal is to demonstrate to growing support for this approach to our government, which is currently considering their response to the Supreme Court ruling.

50,000 have been printed, with the hope that they will all be signed and sent to MP Joy Smith, who will then present them to Justice Minister Peter MacKay.  You can order yours today by emailing nordicmodel@lawc.on.ca.

postcards

You can find more information on the campaign here!

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It’s Christmas Catalogue Time!

by Michelle Brock on December 10th, 2013

We are currently on tour with our new film, Red Light Green Light.  This documentary highlights the complex connections between sex trafficking and prostitution, and examines preventative models that countries can adopt to prevent commercial sexual exploitation.

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This Christmas season, by making a donation through our Christmas Catalogue, you have an opportunity to spread the message of trafficking prevention across the country.

catalogue 300x187CLICK HERE to see our Christmas Catalogue!

To watch the trailer and learn more about the film, go to www.RedLightGreenLightFilm.com.

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Zip Your Lips & Say Happy Birthday

by Michelle Brock on October 10th, 2012

I have two good friends, Niki and Cammy, who are passionate about the fight against sex trafficking. They have each decided to be creative about raising some funds for Hope for the Sold!  Here’s what they’ve cooked up.

NikiThis is Niki.  She is a ridiculously generous, passionate person and has done SO much in support of the abolitionist movement over the years, including hosting awareness events with sheer excellence.  Her birthday is coming up this week, and instead of gifts she has requested that people make a donation to Hope for the Sold!  She makes it very clear that she does not expect birthday gifts in the first place, but if people are so inclined, she wants her birthday to be an opportunity for impact.  So cool.  Say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Niki by donating below!

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Cammy 300x225This is Cammy.  She is one of the coolest, quirkiest people I know.  She has chickens in her backyard. When we met Cammy and her husband, they proudly showed us a room full of fair trade sugar they had shipped in to make it more accessible to their community! Cammy, being rather talkative, has decided to take on the challenge of being silent for a day to raise funds for Hope for the Sold!   Make Cammy’s day of zipping her lips worth it!

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The money donated is going toward our documentary project, for which we are travelling to several countries to explore what models prevent sex trafficking, and what laws and initiatives make it worse. Our goal is to inspire people to think differently about prostitution, so that both government and individuals can adopt practices that stop commercial sexual exploitation from ever happening in the first place.  We are boarding a plane this weekend to begin filming, so Niki and Cammy’s initiatives to raise funds could not come at a better time!

Thanks Niki and cammy for your beautiful, selfless hearts, and your dedication to making a difference in this world.

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It’s Still Not Too Late to Join the Ride for Refuge!

by Michelle Brock on September 24th, 2012

Happy Monday everyone!

The RIDE FOR REFUGE is fast approaching, the first batch of rides taking place this coming Saturday, September 29!  If you live in or near the following cities, your ride is scheduled for that day: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Leamington, Brampton, Ajax, Aylmer, Muskoka, Waterloo, Niagara region, Ottawa, Saskatoon & Sault Ste. Marie!  If you live in Guelph, Hamilton or Maple Ridge, your RIDE day is Saturday Oct 13, and Moosomin is October 6.

We would love for you to register for the RIDE FOR REFUGE, and ride for Hope for the Sold!  This is how we are using the money to fight sex trafficking.  Our riders have raised $1,850 so far!!  Woohoo!

It’s not too late!  REGISTER HERE!

If I can get on a bike for the first time in 5 years – on camera, while wearing a crooked helmet - perhaps you will be inspired to get on yours!  There are different ride lengths to accommodate everyone.  We would love love love for you to join us!  Find out more about the RIDE FOR REFUGE at rideforrefuge.org.

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It’s Crunch Time: We Start Filming Our Documentary in 33 Days…And Need Your Help!

by Michelle Brock on September 10th, 2012

CountdownFor the last year we have been raising funds to make a documentary on legalization of prostitution, its connection to sex trafficking, and preventative models around the world that work to decrease sexual exploitation and demand for paid sex.  It is a highly charged, complex topic, and based on the generous donations many of you have given over the last 12 months, it is also an important one worth addressing.

Why Are We Making This Film?

Governments around the world are currently making legislative decisions about prostitution.  In Canada it is going before the Supreme Court soon.  Both research and the personal stories of sex trafficking survivors indicate that prostitution and sexual exploitation are inextricably linked.  But how?  And to what extent? Does legalization make the sex industry safer?  If not, what are alternatives that prevent sexual exploitation?

plane 1024x640We are embarking on a journey to find out.  We are travelling to several countries to explore what the impact of different prostitution laws are on sex trafficking, and what prevention looks like in different cultural contexts.  Our hope is that through a feature length documentary, we can change the way people think about prostitution and help leaders make policy decisions that decrease, not increase, sexual exploitation.

Where Are We At?

Thanks to the generosity of many of you, we have raised $30,000 to date.  WOW!  We feel so humbled and blessed by your investment into this project, and a thank you really is not enough!  In order to step on that plane in mid-October, we need a minimum of $10,000 more on top of that.

We have 33 days to raise $10,000!  

Fundraising will continue after we leave as well, for the costs that will come with post-production etc, but in order for us to begin filming we have to have a total of $40,000 by October 15.  Since this is a timely issue, we must begin filming this fall.

5 Ways You Can Help Us:

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Make a Donation Online.  ALL Canadian donations receive tax receipts (under charitable # 12659 9919 RR0001).  DONATE ONLINE HERE!  If you prefer to donate by cheque, make it out to Hope for the Sold and send it to this address:

DONATE NOW3

International Teams Canada
1 Union Street
Elmira, Ontario
Canada N3B 3J9
 
**American donors, you can get tax receipts as well by scrolling down for instructions on this page

number22 300x300Join us for the RIDE FOR REFUGE.  It is family-friendly bicycling fundraiser that supports a bunch of different charities, including Hope for the Sold.  Ride with your family & friends!  Rides take place in several cities across Canada and the U.S.  Depending on your city, the ride will take place either in late September or October.  You do NOT need to be an experienced cyclist!  We have 11 riders so far.  We’d love to have 40!  Ride for Hope for the Sold and register today!

number3 300x300Give a business donation.  We are looking for businesses who are willing to support this project!  If you are a business owner or know one who might be interested, please consider giving to Hope for the Sold.  Once again, all donations will receive a tax receipt.  Any questions can be send via our contact section.

 

Number4 300x300Have us come speak at your church, school, or community group.  We come equipped with a list of practical ways that people and communities can fight sex trafficking, both in their communities and abroad.  We ask that our travel costs be covered and for a donation to be given to Hope for the Sold.  Keep in mind that we plan to leave mid-October, so send us your request and we will see what dates would be available!

number5 300x300Organize a fundraiser.  Have a garage sale.  Invite your friends over for a dessert party.  Put together a silent auction.  Offer to babysit for a donation. Have a good ole fashioned game of BINGO!  Have a bake sale.  Sell some crafts. Throw a party.  Be creative, the sky is the limit!

 

number6 300x300Spread the word.  Share this post with your friends, family & co-workers, via facebook, twitter, email, or other social networks you use!  If you’re a blogger, write a blog post!  For you facebookers, like this post. Or tweet it.  Or digg it.  Like our our facebook fan page and follow us on twitter.  I often ask myself whether I am stewarding my online presence well.  If this issue resonates with you, please consider spreading the word!

make a differenceIt took one film, 6 years ago, to make us aware that sex trafficking was happening.  It was the catalyst that pushed us into action.  Now it is our turn to play it forward.  We have seen the devastating impact of sexual exploitation and learned that rehabilitation is extremely difficult. If we can change the way that people think, maybe, just maybe, we can prevent the abuse of thousands before the damage is done.

That is a vision worth fighting for!

Would you consider supporting our documentary project so that we can hit the road on October 15?

We would truly be honoured.

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How I Ended Up With a Car Trunk Full of Cell Phones…And How Aashika Damodar Will Use Them to Fight Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on September 6th, 2012

Ever had a moment when you wish the police didn’t pull you over?  I had one of those moments recently.  Not because I was doing something criminal, but because it would have been an awkward situation to explain.  You see, in my trunk I had two big boxes full of used cell phones, most of them in very good condition, some of them still with full batteries in them.

Rewind.

My husband Jay and I do a lot of public speaking about sex trafficking, and we try to give people practical steps that they can take to fight exploitation.  One of the things we recommend is donating their old cell phones to Phones 4 Freedom (a campaign of Survivor’s Connect), an organization that recycles or refurbishes them, and then sends proper technical equipment to anti-trafficking organizations and individuals on the ground in developing countries for anti-trafficking operations.  You can read more about that here.

Phones 4 Freedom1 768x1024After one of our sessions in July, we had a man come up to us who said, “I think I can hook you up with some phones.” In any other context this would have been an odd thing to hear, and memories of persistent market vendors from our travels came to mind.  As it turns out, Bill worked for the City and knew that when the city workers got new phones, there was not much they could do with the old ones. After clearing it with the security department and jumping through various other hoops, he gave us a call and told us he had a delivery for us.  Of over 140 cell phones.

Much to my relief, on the way home we did not get pulled over by the police and therefore bypassed the necessity of “Oh, officer, this is not what it looks like, you see we know someone who works for the city…”

Aashika DamodarWe are sending the phones to Survivor’s Connect. I had the privilege of interviewing Aasika Damodar, the founder of Survivor’s Connect, about where my shipment of cell phones was going.

What inspired you to start Survivor’s Connect and how did you get it off the ground?

 

I started Survivors Connect shortly after my first major job at Free the Slaves. I had worked, interned and volunteered for several anti-trafficking groups by that point and had a lot of ideas for creative ways for enhancing anti-trafficking work. It is often difficult to experiment with new ideas/projects with existing/established NGOs, so I felt like maybe starting a new NGO was the best way to do it.

Also, during this time, I had traveled to a number of countries and saw how even in the most poverty-stricken and vulnerable communities, families owned or had regular access to basic mobile phones, and mobile phones were increasingly becoming the first point of entry for people into the digital world. People were using mobile phones in ways that even we don’t – from getting weather alerts, learning about food prices at the market (before traveling long distances to get it), mobile banking and more. I thought that these very technologies could be used to advance human rights efforts as well and that’s where many of the ideas for SC’s work were born.

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Photo: Courtesy of Survivor's Connect

Once the Wireless Source reburbishes/recycles the phones, what is the process of getting the phones where they need to go? 

 

So first, the phones are fully recycled. Depending on the current value, the Wireless Source assigns us “points” or credits which are used to purchase back proper equipment for our helpline projects, and/or are cashed so that we can buy other equipment beyond mobile phones. We keep them in a savings until the $ is needed. For example, for a project in Haiti, we bought a few GSM modems, a small laptop computer and 10 smart phones.

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Photo: Courtesy of Survivor's Connect

How are the phones used on the ground to fight human trafficking and sexual abuse? Do you have a story you could share about the real-life impact of the technology on the ground?

 

There are many!  Check the story of our project in Haiti and in Guatemala.

Tell us about your new venture, Breaking Heels, and the top 3 reasons you are excited about it.

 

So this venture has been quite literally an adventure of a lifetime. While I was in college in the UK, I accidentally broke my high heel shoe when getting it caught on a cobblestone pathway. Upon arriving home, I was so frustrated that instead of simply throwing out the shoes, icing my foot and going to bed, I decided to bring out my sketchpad and draw concepts for height adjustable high heel shoes. Girls willingly suffer for fashion, and it was my goal to have the best of both worlds. After a few hours, I had some concepts down. I’ve been working with engineers since to make it happen.

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The whole thing seemed very much out of scope for me. Me, the abolitionist?  The non profit do-er, now into fashion? The irony was I’ve always loved fashion and fashion design and I found myself back in it again via this accidental invention. On my way to meet some engineers, I had my iPod on shuffle, and i got to the song “can’t stop pimpin” by lil job. I hate the song, but it was on my iPod because I used lyrics from this song in my senior thesis as an undergrad to discuss the nature of glamorization of pimping in popular culture. There is a line in the song where he says “bitch break your heels off and make me rich.” I dug into that phrase “break heels” further and found out that it’s used quite commonly to describe what pimps what women to do in order to meet their quota. This is when I decided that my new venture could actually be one for good – where we are literally “breaking heels” and reclaiming the phrase to be a positive statement against trafficking and sexual exploitation.

BH Demo 41I suppose then my top 3 reasons for my excitement are:

1. The shoe is really comfortable and provides women with a 2-in-1 where the design isn’t compromised for comfort, and looks awesome!

2. Breaking heels is both a company and a cause, where with each pair sold, we’re sharing a survivor’s story (designs are inspired by survivors via fashion workshops as well as a song donated by an artist.

3. I firmly believe social entrepreneurship is the way forward towards creating socially and financially sustainable solutions to problems as relentless as this one.

Phone Demo 300x225If you could sum up your experience as an abolitionist so far in 5 words, what would they be? 

Interesting question! I would say Exciting, Evolving, Trying, Inspiring & Innovating

What can people do to support Survivor’s Connect or Breaking Heels?

 

Survivors Connect – Recycle/donate your old phone to Phones4freedom.org.  Canadian donations, please send your donation with Fedex (Account #183021400, for free shipping) to: The Wireless Source, 794 Industrial Court, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302, Attn: Phones4Freedom Enterprise Program code: SCONNECT.  Also, if you’re interested in piloting your own SMS resource line, contact us at hello@survivorsconnect.org.

Breaking Heels – Help us launch today by making a pledge! We have 11 days left to get to 25K. Make a pledge here! Or if you would like to volunteer/get involved, tell us about your skill sets and we’ll plug you in! Email us at hello@breakingheels.com.

Aashika, thanks so much for your passionate heart, and for using your innovative mind to fight injustice around the world!  Everyone, don’t forget to check out the Survivor’s Connect and Breaking Heels websites.

Michelle

 

 

 

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