Guerrera, Yo soy (I am a Warrior)

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 mzayas@warinternational.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).

♥ Meggie

Break the Chain

Today’s was so amazing!  I had so much fun I honestly can’t even put it into words!

So it started at arriving at WAR Chest Boutique at 8:30 but the other volunteer hadn’t arrived yet with the key.  She had to take an alternative route because of the mass amount flooding the Chicagoland area experienced Thursday, many roads are still closed.  On top of that, our manager, wasn’t going to be there until later because she was at a conference at Wheaton College so I was in charge of a group of volunteers that came down from North Central College coming that morning.

The volunteer arrived and she gave the speech about what we do and showed a few videos about Women at Risk International (the links will be at the bottom) to the 8 NCC volunteers while I ran around getting some of the tasks ready.  Then I joined them for the question section of the presentation.  I always like to mention a project that I’m working on, a map of the Chicagoland area where I mark Prostitution, Pandering (basically what pimps do) and Child Pornography charges.  It’s really shocking the amount of prostitution charges in Naperville, a lovely, thriving, six figure neighborhood.  It’s something that, to me, brings the problem home and makes it something a little more real since it is here, where you don’t expect.

Then it was my turn to take over and I was really nervous, I really did not want to be making any mistake, so I got to work assigning jobs.  My plan was to split the volunteers up in groups and putting them to work while I go get some other work done and assign them new jobs when they finished.  That was NOT how it went.  I was literally running around from about 9 till noon when their lunch came answering questions, assigning new jobs, helping them find tools, doing this and that and it was tiring!  I don’t know how our manager does it.  I was just so happy that we got all of the jobs done and there weren’t any problems.  So job one done!

So at noon, I just ran around checking some of the things the volunteers did.  Most of them left to go to another site while 3 stayed with us to go down to the dance and get the crowd involved!  At 12:30 some dancers and teachers began to arrive and I was  talking to one of our dancers and she had a spot right in front of Anderson’s Bookshop!  Now throughout the day, I had been driving down there trying desperately to find a spot, but had no luck.  So I was so excited when she said she had a spot and we both ran down to switch our cars.  By the time I got back at 12:45 most of the dancers had arrived at WAR Chest.  Then I asked everyone if they wanted a rehearsal and they said yes, so we got it set up and ran through the dance twice and then started walking down to Anderson’s.

The exciting part was earlier in the morning, Naperville 17 News called and were sending someone down to interview and record us.  The not so exciting part was that our manager was still going to be at her conference and wasn’t going to make our dance which means someone else would have to be interviewed by the reporter.  There was one staff member that came out to dance and she was going to do it.

So we got everyone lined up and ready to go and I started the music from my car and a small crowed gathered!  NCC volunteers passed out buttons and it went so well!  We did it one more time and it was so much fun!  Then we took some group photos and did some cheers!  The second time we danced, people across the street cheered at us!  I honestly can’t even explain how much fun it was!  The song lyrics (click here to listen to the song) are just so good for raising awareness of women’s risk issues and it’s a fun beat and music in general is so liberating.

Music is the one thing, the only thing, that can liberate us from the chains that secure our minds, our bodies and our souls.

Then it was interview time, so the staff member, who is a bit younger than I am, went over and she told me to just stand next to me because I’m nervous and I was totally fine with that.  I didn’t have to talk and that was perfect!  However, the reporter had other ideas and interviewed me too!  It was so nerve-racking!   I wish I could have prepared something.  I wanted to include the 3 dance teachers and their studio names and the location of WAR Chest. I am still nervous about it, I’m so afraid I made a mistake in one of the studio names or something!  My family was there taking photos and video taping it, so like funny parents, they video taped my mini interview and took photos of it.  I felt like a celebrity! lol

Then back to the store and Ashley was back and I gave her an overview of what happened and I was just so happy that nothing went wrong.  I was so nervous!  I do NOT want to mess this internship up, but I think I did everything o.k.

Another cool thing was at the store we had a free chair massage from a chiropractor and it was just a wonderful way to end to a very busy day!

All in all, this was an AMAZING day!  I had so much fun. We honestly had some of the greatest women ever come out and dance with us and I felt really good that my manager felt like she could leave me with these project and the NCC volunteers and at the last-minute, the dance.  I was never completely alone since the volunteer who was in the store at been with WAR for 2 year and the dance teacher could help, which was a bit of a relief because if I did need help there was always someone there, but I think I handled everything well.  This was just so much fun, I just don’t have any other words I can use!  I just love my internship so much!

MINI-UPDATE – I just checked Naperville 17 News and here is the mini report they did on us!  How exciting! 🙂

Below are some of the videos from Women at Risk International

Introduction to Women at Risk International

Women at Risk Overview

Pray for WAR Babies

Women at Risk International Civilian First Responder

Boston, Chicago, Cats and a Dance

Before I start this blog, I want to thank the lovely ladies Caroline and Daniela again.  Caroline has been just wonderful (click here for her blog).  She is supportive and kind and sweet and I love her blog!  Daniela is another wonder woman I’ve met on this site (click here for her blog) and she just wrote such an amazingly sweet blog about Mexico City and how she was thinking of me any my boyfriend and our struggles.  I just felt so honored.  I honestly don’t even have enough words in my vocabulary to describe these beautiful, amazing women and I’m so glad I decided to start blogging otherwise I would have never met them!

Now I have TONS of things to get into and I don’t want to make this blog a novel.  First, as many of you have heard, 2 bombs went off at the end of the Boston Marathon killing 3 people and severely injuring hundreds.  My heart goes out to everyone and I feel so awful about everything.  This was a terrible event.  I just want to point out a few things.  The first is as many have already pointed out, this was a horrible tragedy and those words don’t even begin to cover it, however there are some amazing people.  The runners who continued to run to the nearest hospital to donate blood and those who open their homes to strangers that were displaced after this happen and so many more who acted as first responders that were audience members or runners.  You are my hero and the world would be an awful place without people like you because YOU ARE AMAZING AND WE ALL LOVE YOU! ♥

Second there is one thing that is annoying me and actually making me furious.  The News.  First, when this happened, they couldn’t put their cameras down to help?  One new broadcast I heard, the narrator said something to the effect of “at least we were there to catch it all on camera”.  Really?  You couldn’t help people, but you filmed it.  I understand we need news, but honestly that is cold and heartless.  You would rather watch this happen and do nothing but film instead of help people whose limb have just been blown of or have sustained other injuries.  Get over yourself.

Also, get it right!  You told everyone they caught the bomber when in reality that never happened.  Then each station is putting out news about what the bomber looks like.  So far this is basically the description we are given.  He is a white, black, brown man with a white hat worn backwards or a green hat or bald who ran from the scene or walk away.  Really?  Then the FBI had to release a statement saying basically telling the news to shut up, stop jumping to conclusions and get the information right.  So honestly news networks, as of right now, you are useless, bias, awful television programming who, just like politicians, would rather do something for your own benefit rather than do something useful.  Obviously this is a generalization, not every single news caster is like that, but the ones who are, you should be ashamed of yourself and your inability to do anything useful.

Next is about my home, my Chicago.  My neighborhood along with many others around me have been declared “in a state of emergency”.  The city and neighboring suburbs are flooded and I mean flooded!  Ramps to get onto the highway are completely submerged.  What is normally a 15 minute drive to work took an hour and I literally drove through a lake where the road used to be.  I even saw an ambulance drive by towing an inflatable motor boat.  It’s bad, but one positive thing about this morning is that there was minimal road rage!  Everyone was letting people merge without fingers or horns sounding, they just let people in and waved thanks, which is so uncommon to see.  It was very nice and refreshing!

However, the lovely nonprofit Feral Fixers (feralfixers.org) is not having such a great time. For more info you can go to their website.  Tammy, the founder, houses cats in her basement (they are all in their own kennels which are cleaned and taken care of by a multitude of volunteers and Tammy herself, so don’t worry about them living in awful conditions or anything).  This morning she had 6 inches of water, so they moved all 14 cats out of the basement and started looking for temporary homes, which they found.  However those 6 inches have turned into over 6 feet of water.  Here are some photos of Tammy’s basement

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They have lost a lot of supplies and are in dire need of everything from cat food & litter to paper plates and bowls and blankets (click here for the full list of items) so if anyone lives in the Chicagoland area, Feral Fixers is located in Lombard and they need our help!  There is also an option to order items online and have them shipped to Feral Fixers.  If you would like to donate money you can always donate here on their Website or you can vote for a photo I took and all of the money raised from this photo goes to Feral Fixers.  Click here for all of the detail about that.  Finally we have an event Sunday in St. Charles and Recycled2New will be there.  Click here for all of the info on that.  Thank you for any and all help!!

Last but not least, WAR Chest Boutique, which is part of Women at Risk International is dancing on the street of Naperville this Saturday at 1pm in front of Anderson’s Bookshop to raise awareness of WAR and other women’s risk issues, everything from trafficking to abuse and more (Click here for my blog about it and here for event details). Please come visit us and join us in this so we can fight together!  If you come, try to wear something red!  Those are our colors and I look forward to seeing people!!

Thank you for everything!  All of the support and any help you can give Feral Fixers or for those who come out to support WAR and thank you for taking the time out of you day to read my blog or read this super long blog!  I feel so lucky an blessed, especially in light of recent occurrences.  Thank you! ♥

WAR Chest

So as most of you know, I’m love shopping at WAR Chest Boutique and the reason why is that everything in the store (jewelry, clothing, etc.) has all been made or sourced by women rescued from human trafficking or who are at risk.  WAR Chest is part of Women at Risk International and they are located in 34 countries and most of the United States (yes, the U.S., we have a MASSIVE trafficking problem here).

Just two weeks ago, I had started interning for them and I am having a blast!  The store is run by volunteers, Ashley is the manager and there might be 2 other paid employees who work there less that I do! 🙂  Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and just happy.  When you walk into the Naperville store you are literally just wrapped up in this warm circle of happiness and unity.  That sounds really corny but it is completely true.  I have met some really sweet, amazing women there!

Yesterday, we had our first learn and practice for a dance event we’re doing on April 20th in the streets of Naperville.  We are dancing to not only let people know about WAR and what we do but to raise awareness and support women who face the terror of trafficking or abuse, whether that is verbal or physical, or being controlled or whatever the problem is, that is what we dance for.  The dance is super upbeat and fun and once again the ladies are just amazing!  We’re having another learn and practice this coming Sunday, April 14th at 4:00pm at the Abhyaasa Yoga Studio in Naperville.  If you live in the area come and learn the dance with us or just come to watch us and clap on the 20th!  We had about 12 ladies (including me, Ashley and the teachers) so we want more.  This isn’t just a dance for women, men can participate as well!

This is something very close to me as well because of friends and family who I’ve seen hurt by men verbally and being completely controlled by them.  I have a family member who we have tried to help, but she just never listened and now I have a friend who keeps going back to the same guy.  I’ve known her for about a year and they’ve broken up 3 times?  He tells her what she can wear, when I go out with her, he texts her nonstop about coming home and what time will she be home and where we’re going, not just like the normal about, literally nonstop.  Then he stays at her place, she cooks for him, he doesn’t pay half the rent or for food and doesn’t clean at all and he owes her money (like a couple hundred) from some previous event. Then on Facebook he told her to “Stop acting like a bitch” and as a woman, that offends me to no end.  There is never any time the word bitch should be used in any way toward a woman and still she goes back to him and that isn’t the only time he has used social media to degrade or embarrass her either.  There are more I could list.  So I will be dancing for them, because I’ve done everything I could to help my friend, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t want it, no matter how frustrating and heart breaking it is.

Just as a side note, I know it’s not only men who abuse and I’m not on an I hate men spire, 🙂 I actually has a male family member who was physically and verbally abused by a woman and luckily he got out of that and found another beautiful, sweet women to be with, and that makes me so happy!

Below are a bunch of link to Women at Risk and information about the dance if you are interested! I hope you come join us!

Website for Women at Risk International Here

WAR Chest Boutique Naperville Facebook Here

Dance Tutorial Here

Information About The Break the Chain Dance Here

Body Issues

I went to a fashion show this Thursday to support Women at Risk International.  I didn’t really understand half of the outfits that were shown because I don’t know why anyone would wear them in real life, but it was fun hanging out with a friend that I haven’t seen in a very long time and it was a super fun event!

My friend and I were discussing the model industry. I find it, in some cases, that it is very depressing and this is for the same reason many criticize this industry, all of the women are so thin a strong wind will blow them away!  I do understand not all models are like that, but in high fashion run way shows and magazines, they are.  I’ve watch the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and it made me want to eat something!  Some women might have that body type, all of us are different, however others just looked so thin. and sickly  Where are the curvy figures and thighs and butts and arms and tummies?!?!

In this conversation, my friend and I were talking about how I would be a plus size model, or at least on the verge of being one.  I’m just under 5’9″ and about 150lbs, sometimes more or less, depending on how often I get to enjoy my bike rides!  To me that is sad because I’m average.  It’s not sad to me that I would be plus size, I told my friend that I would rather be a plus size model than be all ribs and hip bones, but it was sad because this makes women think that their average size is too fat.  Then she said something that shocked me and made me just want to hug her and cry!  She said she wouldn’t mind that, having her hips and ribs showing.  Now, I understand that some women are just tiny ladies, like Debra Messing.  Messing is just really slender and you can tell that is simply her body type because she doesn’t look emaciated, her face isn’t sunk in or anything like that.  I just couldn’t imagine wanting to be that thin if it wasn’t your body type and that is not my friend’s body type.  She is meant to have curves and thighs and a butt, just like I am.

Now she is currently doing the P90X program because she wants to lose a little weight.  Her goal isn’t some crazy goal, it seems very reasonable.  If she wanted to lose weight, the weight she wanted to lose wouldn’t make her unhealthy.  The problem is, it is almost like it is consuming her.  She says she has trouble sleeping, but she’ll go to bed even later because she has to do her P90 and only skip one day.  I get that you need to work out regularly, but she works full-time AND goes to college, I think it would be ok for her to miss a day or two and get some sleep.  Today she was sick and from her Facebook statuses she sounded very sick, sick enough to go to a doctor, but she had to get her two workouts in so she can get her body weight down to fit into a swim suit!

Let me state something before I go any further.  To me, working out should be to make you healthy.  I understand people want to look good to, but health should be the primary goal.  For example, when I am not in school and just working, I try to work out to get back in shape and become a healthier me and along with that, my stomach gets a little more tone, same with my arms.  However, my primary goal is not to lose so much weight and become so toned that my ribs show and I barely have any legs and my hips stick out because that is just not my body type and that is an unhealthy goal for me personally.  So I do understand that working out is to make your body look better and that is ok, but it should be done in a healthy way.

Back to my friend, she isn’t being healthy.  You shouldn’t work out twice when you are sick enough to go to the doctor and say that you can barely drive because you feel so ill JUST for the sake of working out to lose weight.  You shouldn’t want your ribs sticking out because that is what a model looks like so you should look like that too.  You NEED NEED NEED NEED to worry about the health of your body first.

Ladies and gentlemen, YOU ARE FREAKING GORGEOUS!  Your body is YOUR body, it is unique and special and one of a kind!  Let me tell you ladies, for those of you who hate your butt and your arms and your thighs, I have a butt so big that I have to buy pants a size bigger because I can’t pull them up over my butt and hips or they won’t fit around my thighs and do you want to know a secret?  I love my big but and I love my big thighs.  They give my a figure and shapely legs.  If I pinch my stomach, I can pinch my “tummy fat” and no matter what I do to try to tone my arms, I can still pinch that “underarm fat” and wiggle it if I hold my arms up.  I love it, I love my body because I feel sexy.  I go to shop in Little Village to find jeans to fit my butt or have them tailored or just get a really good belt. I rock my bikini in the summer and love sleeveless and strapless tops and dresses.  I have another friend who would be considered a bit overweight and she ROCKS her bikini and strapless shirts and dresses and she looks sexy!  Do you know why?  She is beyond confident and loves her body!

Please please please LOVE YOUR BODY!  Love yourself for the absolutely beautiful and PERFECT person you are.  You are freaking sexy as hell and you just have to find your inner god or goddess and flaunt it baby!  Then if you wanted to lose a bit of weight or tone your arms or butt or tummy, you will still love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself the way you are now, you will never be perfect and will always find things you want to change or something wrong with you and that is when problems start.  When you lose your weight, you might want to continue you losing more and more or maybe do something more drastic like plastic surgery.  You are already perfect and beautiful and love and accept your body NOW and when you have achieved that, then set some reasonable goals and do it to be healthy!

Now, my challenge for you is to click here and check out this FANTASTIC article I found and repeat their sayings and do some of the fill in the blanks.  We all have our insecurities and I am confident but I do at times wonder if I could lose weight or perfect something about myself so I’ll even do a few of the fill in the blanks and my favorite mantras!

1. My body is a gift from a higher being and nature!

3. I love my butt and legs (I can’t just pick one).

4. The number on the scale does NOT determine my self-worth.

5. The size of my jeans does not dictate my happiness (It just means I have a great butt! :D)

8. I’m thankful to my body for allowing me to wear beautiful dresses and fill them out and for allowing me to see my family and friends, feel their touch and embrace and hear their amazingly beautiful voices.

12. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of the body.

14. I am confident, loving, caring, determined and motivated.

So tell me!  What are going to be your life mantras and do some of the fill in the blanks!  Leave your answer in the comment section!

Super Bowl

If you live in the United States you know Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend.  Really if you live even in a neighboring country you can probably hear the cheers from across the border for the Super Bowl, they might be loud enough to hear across the ocean!  I’m not a football fan, but even I have been to Super Bowl parties and join in the festivities!  My sister and I also love to watch the Puppy Bowl on animal planet when we’re home, lol.

With any large event like this, there are always human rights violations.  Even with the Olympics, there are massive human rights violations.  This year I am participating in a social media campaign against Human Trafficking during the Super Bowl.  Prostitution is a massive problem and women are brought to where the game is held to be sold and used for sex.  According to Shared Hope International, “during the Super Bowl in Miami 3 years ago, 10,000 prostituted women were brought into the city to be trafficked”.

I read this great quote, “let’s stop reading statistics and let’s start changing them”,  This is a great place to start, so easy, the ability to share this information is at your fingertips.

This campaign is focused on spreading the word.  Yes this is a fun event and should be enjoyed but people also have to remember what goes on at these events aren’t always positive.  If you tell yourself that you can do nothing so why think about it, just imagine if every one thought like that, if everyone believed that they should do nothing because it won’t make a difference.  We wouldn’t have some of these amazing organizations we have, children wouldn’t be rescued from abusive homes, men and women wouldn’t be saved from trafficking, there would be no aid for lesser developed countries.  Don’t put limits on the positivity you can bring to the world.

This campaign is not about boycotting the game, instead, throughout the Super Bowl, Shared Hope International and the Defenders USA (which is a part of Shared Hope International, a coalition of men that fight human trafficking) will be posting information on Facebook and tweeting information to be re-tweeted and re-posted.  During the Super Bowl last year there were “12.2 million posts on social networking sites” (Shared Hope International).  Imagine if you were posting during the game and you just hit one button to re-tweet or re-post information, information to fight Human Trafficking, an awful by-product of this event.  While you are loving the game and every minute, there are thousands of women and children being used in the sex industry.

I have joined this event on Facebook.  The link is here.  You have to be logged in to Facebook to access it.  The title is “Super Bowl Media Activism:Human Trafficking.  The Facebook for the Defenders USA is here.  The Facebook for Shared Hope International is here. For just a little more information, here is a video from WAR (Women at Risk) International about human trafficking (Click here).

Take two seconds, join our campaign and during the game to re-post or re-tweet something, one post or every single one.  This is something that affects us all.  Imagine if it was your mother, sister, daughter or son, brother or father who was kidnapped or sold and forced into the sex industry.  These are family members, loved ones.  Enjoy your day, have fun at your Super Bowl parties with friends and family, but just remember and think about the other side of that joy, spreading information only takes a few seconds.

“Let’s stop reading statistics and start changing them”

Positive Responses

I’m so happy!

This month, like I’ve explained so many times it is National Human Trafficking month. So I’m sharing things on Facebook, telling people about an organization that they probably don’t know about, WAR (Women at Risk) International.  It is literally a 5 minutes walk from the main campus and not many have heard of it.  I didn’t even know about it until the last term of my third year of college and I passed it every week on my way to Noodles & Co. or Subway!

Before I continue, you can click this link here if you want to know more about National Human Trafficking Month or just want links to various organizations for more information.  I have links there for Shared Hope International, WAR International along with their stores, Free2Work and more.

While I was in Goshen, Indiana staying with a friend at her college, I saw on Facebook that the WAR Chest Boutique (the store for WAR International) was collecting clothes to give to women who have been rescued and have nothing.  They will either be donated to the safe house in Michigan or Chicago. She and one of her other friends just happened to be giving away close to The Depot, a nonprofit thrift store, but I asked if I could keep them to give to WAR and they both said yes. I was so excited!!  My first set of donations!  I couldn’t wait to get home to go through my own closet.

And that is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, only found a few things. I had gone through my closet in April and had pulled out bags and bags of clothes which I gave some to my family in various parts of the country and the rest we gave to AmVets (check them out if you’re interested), and organization that supports our amazingly brave veterans and we always try to donate to as often as we can.

Back to WAR, I posted a status about the donations, where they could go and I offered to pick up donations if they couldn’t make it. Then I sent out a bunch of personal emails to close friends and family. 

The response was so positive.  One friend commented on my status saying she would and was excited. She knits hats and slippers for kids in under developed countries.  I also received several emails!  So far, with my clothes, the items from Goshen and from one other friend, I had two full garbage bags and one small bag. This weekend im picking up clothes from 2 more people and expecting 2 more.  Not only that, my piano professor said she just went through her closet and has things to donate and some of my co-workers might have items for me to drop off!

It makes me so happy, how excited people get about donating.  I know it’s hard sometimes to drive all the way to a location to drop clothes or toys off and it is easier when someone offers to pick up your donations.  Places like AmVets though, they will come to your house!  There is always something you can do for someone else, even if it’s giving them a compliment.  Remember, everything you do will always affect someone else, so affect them in a positive way.  Even if you can’t donate, spread the word.  Organizations like WAR aren’t only in the United States, they are world-wide, located in 31 different countries and could use anyones support.  Problems like trafficking affect every single person, even if WAR isn’t in your country, your country is still affected by trafficking.  Check out some of the products, from jewelry made with real stones or beautiful scarves or purses, skirts, they have so many beautiful things and you are making a difference.

Always remember, just because you don’t see something happening, doesn’t mean it’s not happening where you live.  Naperville, Illinois, for example, a 6 figure neighborhood, beautiful, college town with restaurants and bars, high-end clothes, that neighborhood has human trafficking victims.   It’s not just a problem of women from less affluent countries being brought to more affluent countries, it happens here, in the U.S. and stays here too.

We are only half way through January, so I challenge you to do something.  Go to WAR International’s Facebook Page (Click here), like it and share it with friends.  Do you like animals?  Share information about a no kill rescue shelter in your area.  Maybe you think you should help children in underdeveloped countries, share information, spread the word and make a difference.  Do you know a cancer survivor, remind everyone how brave that person is and that cancer affects people more than just in the month we raise awareness for it. 

Always do your research as to how the organization accomplishes its goals, whether it is sustainable if they leave a country and make sure you know about them, the more information you have, the more power you have to make a difference.

For those of you who wish to join the fight in Human Trafficking, you can post this on your Facebook page or use it as your profile picture, that’s what I did.

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If you accept my challenge, tell me what you do, whether it is posting a status or tweet about WAR, donating clothing to your local church, fostering a dog or cat, whatever you do, whatever your interests let me know!  I’d love to hear about new organizations and see what everyone loves to do!