On Wednesday I attended the launch party of the West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition. There were so many amazing ladies, and a few men, that attended to represent various groups! The goals of the WCATC is to aid in networking between nonprofits, so we can all work as one, together to fight trafficking and to be a resource to the individuals and communities by planning and promoting various events and aiding in education of this problem. This is a fantastic idea because it doesn’t help if we have so many wonderful groups but they aren’t connected?
Trafficking is a massive problem, even in developed countries. The United States has a huge trafficking problem and it’s not just women being flown in from other countries, it is our women, and sometimes men, who are being trafficked within our borders. This is every country’s problem. Most of these groups are Christian based, however if you are interested in doing something, don’t let that discourage you if you are not religious or Christian. I am not Christian, I am not affiliated with any church. One of the groups I work closely with, WAR (Women at Risk) does not discriminate in who they help nor do they push their beliefs on someone who doesn’t readily accept them. They will help people of any sexual orientation or religious background and do offer Bible teachings, however they do not force them. Just keep that in mind because I know someone people bristle when they discover the religious affiliation of some of these organizations. I’m going to list some events that I am doing and some are very easy to do too, even if you don’t live in the Chicagoland area.
Traffick Free In September I am going to run a 5k for Traffick Free with my best friend. The gift you receive for participating is a bracelet that has a very special charm that contains an I.D. number for a girl. This girl is a real girl who was rescued from trafficking and you can learn about her story. The money raised goes to Traffick Free so they can continue doing their work!
Free the Girls Also In September I am participating in a bra drive! Why am I doing this?! I’ll tell you why and this is something I just learned too! The second hand clothing market in some of these lessor developed countries is huge! Bras are not only a source of income but they can also be a symbol of status, which I didn’t know. This allows women to work for other women which can be very beneficial when some countries treat women like second class citizen, if they are even that lucky. In many cases livestock has greater importance than a wife. By working for women, they can avoid being under the control of a man. Women can earn up to 5 times minimum wage by selling bras!
The group that we are going to do the drive for is called Free the Girls. This is how they describe their sustainable model. “Once a program has been started with a safe house, it is designed to sustain itself. The women receive their starting inventory of bras at no cost, then pay a small amount of money for additional bras once they sell their initial inventory. This money is used to cover the expenses for the next shipment of bras. That means we only raise money to start new projects, not to keep established projects going.” This means that the women become independent and don’t have to rely on a nonprofit for continued help! You can always mail your bras too!
Educate yourself! Search for information and if you ever need any info, you can always ask me as well. Education is powerful, education can save these girls and boys but also help us figure out the best way to stop trafficking. Education can bust myths like men only traffick women or women are the only victims, which is not true at all. Trafficking is only for sex slaves. Wrong again. Trafficking is bondage, if you don’t want to be there or are not getting paid, you are a slave, a sex slave, a slave in bonded labor, it doesn’t matter. Slavery still exists in many forms.
There are so many amazing books!! Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity is an amazing place to start. It gives a great overview of the problem, not only the problem with sex trafficking but also bonded labor, maternity risks and so much more. It is detailed but manages to combine hard facts with true stories of women we can rally behind and say “Oh My God, she is amazing, she fought all of that on her own!” and it give us men who we can say “Wow, look how he stopped what was going on, I can do that too.”
I have had the pleasure of meeting Shayne Moore at the Launch party and received a copy of her book Refuse to do Nothing. I’m reading it now and I love it. I can write a review on that later if you’d like. She is an amazing captivating women and I’m so excited to start her book!
Also, Girl Rising an AMAZING documentary will be shown on CNN, June 16th at 9ET. I had the pleasure of viewing it in April and it was honestly incredible. It was put together in such an amazing way, with narrations by Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson, hard statistics and amazing stories of young girls. I don’t think I ever wrote about that either, so that will be coming soon! It is moving and powerful and will make you want to fight, just like these girls did. I highly recommend it and if you can’t watch it at that time, record it and watch it later. You could even throw a viewing party to show others!
Women at Risk As most of you know, I was an intern for a branch of Women at Risk. I worked at WAR Chest Boutique in Naperville, a nonprofit boutique. Everything in the store is made or source by a woman rescued from trafficking or an at risk woman. I am hosting a jewelry part on July 16th at 6:30. If anyone would like to come and learn more about WAR or trafficking and come shop with us, you are welcome! Just RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Drinks and snacks will be provided and it’s going to be a fun night of shopping!
Again, if you ever have questions or want to learn more, I know tons of resources that I have learned about while working at a trafficking nonprofit. Just think of the impact you could make for a child or a woman, even if you donate your clothing and ask friends to do the same. If trafficking isn’t your cause then support whatever you wish just always educate yourself about the problem so you can support the best solution. Just think of the small things too, you don’t have to donate thousands of dollars, just when you clean out your closet! Every small thing counts porque guerreros somos (because we are warriors).