Saturday, April 12, 2014

Do You Know About Amazon Smile?


Did you know you can raise money for your favorite charity or non-profit organization just by shopping online with Amazon?

It's true!  And it's really easy.

It's called Amazon Smile and you use it the same way you use Amazon.  It has the same products and pricing as Amazon.  You even use the same account, password, wish list and other account settings as Amazon. 

If you already have an Amazon account simply log in to www.smile.amazon.com

Once you are logged in you can search from over a million charity organizations.  You can even search by category.  A simple search of "trafficking" resulted in 543 choices including such great organizations as:

Polaris Project
Refuge For Women
Agape International Mission
Truckers Against Trafficking
Exodus Cry

Simply select the organization of your choice and start shopping as you normally would.  The organization you chose will automatically be saved for future purchases.  And you can change your selection at any time.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchase to you selected choice.

And that makes me smile!

To learn more go Here

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IL Action Alert: Support Bill For Increased Resources For Trafficking Survivors

Illinois: Ask your lawmakers to support S.B. 3558

Did you know that the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has received reports of more than 350 cases of sex trafficking in Illinois? We know that there are so many more victims out there that we haven't heard from, and who are in need of shelter, food, counseling, legal help, and educational support to escape and rebuild their lives.

You can help dramatically increase resources for victims of sex trafficking in your state. A new bill (SB 3558) has been introduced in the state legislature that will create a special fund for service providers who offer essential support for trafficking survivors. The fund would be created from fines against traffickers and buyers of commercial sex, forfeiture and impoundment proceedings, and specialty license plates. Through SB 3558, those who exploit and profit off of victims of sex trafficking will now help pay for the recovery of these survivors.

Please tell your state representative to support this bill today:

Send Your Letter

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Local Events


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 9th:  IJM Stand For Freedom
Stand with us for 24 hours to forever change your community's awareness of the everyday violence of those trapped in modern day slavery.
Locate an event near you, donate or sign the petition here: Stand For Freedom

April 10th: Modern Day Slavery 7:00- 8:30
Schaumburg Library - Rasmussen Room
130 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg
Presenter Susan Miura will explain more about this crime, what is being done and what you can do. Speakers include two Chicago-based FBI agents and representatives of Bright Hope and the Dalit Freedom Network. Information packets will be provided. Light refreshments will be served. To register, call (847) 923-3347 or stop by the Information Desk on the library's second floor.
 
April 16th: Take Back The Night from 6:00 - 9:00 pm
McHenry County College Leucht Conference Center
8900 Hwy 14, Crystal Lake
Join us in illuminating the darkness surrounding sexual violence. Starting at 6:00 will be a Resource Fair in the Commons area with many organizations represented. Speakers will begin at 6:30 in Luecht Conference Center. Sarah Mathe from Voice, Molly Horton from Turning Point, Katie Gaughan from Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation will be discussing issues surrounding this topic and taking questions. Survivors will be speaking. A march around campus will follow and end at the peace pole with a fire pit for a moment of reflection. All are invited.


April 14th & 17th: "Half The Sky" Documentary Viewing 7 p.m Schaumburg Library - Audiovisual Theatre
130 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg
The documentary "Half the Sky" (NR) will be shown in two parts at 7 p.m. Monday, April 14 and Thursday, April 17. "Half the Sky" urges people to bear witness to the plight of the world's women and help to transform their oppression into opportunity.

April 21st:  "Trade of Innocents" (PG13) 7 p.m
Schaumburg Library - Audiovisual Theatre
130 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg
The story takes place in present day Southeast Asia, where children are for sale in dark alleys and secret rooms. Twists unfold against the backdrop of the dangerous human trafficking world, in a story of struggle, life, hope and redemption. Registration is not required for the documentary or movie.

April 23rd: "Half The Sky" Book Discussion from 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Schaumburg Library - Rasmussen Room
130 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg
The library's non-fiction book club, Second Floor Reads, will discuss Half the Sky, Changing Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn,  Visit the Information Desk on the second floor to register. Loan copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-served basis upon registration.
For more information, contact Anna Pederson at apederson@stdl.org or (847) 923-3326.



May 1st:  West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition Mixer 7:00 pm
Missions Place by TEAM
370 W Front Street, Wheaton
Downtown Wheaton at the TEAM'S Missions Place for a casual evening of visiting, sharing what is going on in our community, and a short panel discussion with key local leaders on human trafficking. Refreshments will be served. Come and learn how you can make a difference!
 
Save the Date!
May 10th:  Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Training Seminar
Willow Creek Church Crystal Lake
220 Exchange Parkway, Crystal Lake
Victims of human trafficking may look like many of the people you see everyday.  Would you be able to recognize them if you came in contact with one?  Would you know what signs to look for?   Would you know what questions to ask or who to call?  This seminar will prepare you to recognize the commercial exploitation of children, identify the risk factors and much more.  Agenda and cost information can be found  Here

Space is limited. 
Register Here

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Alone - A Guest Post From My Daughter

Yesterday I was going through the things my daughter took out of her backpack from school.  A majority of the papers get thrown away and I must admit that she comes home with so many writing assignments that I don't read each and every one.  But yesterday, one of her papers grabbed my attention and I stopped to read it.  I'm so glad I did, because it was really good. 

So good that I want to share it with all of you today.

She said it was simply a creative writing assignment.  They could write about any subject and it could be a story or a newspaper article or any other type of writing.

I am impressed by her creativity and how closely it relates to girls who are at risk for trafficking.

From an 11 year old girl...

Alone

It's my 14th birthday and here I am out on the streets hungry, scared, lost, not knowing why bad things have to happen to anyone.  I can still remember the day my mother died.  It was the worst day of my life.  I was eight years old.  My mother was the only one who worked in the family.  She was on her way home from work one day when she got in a really, really bad car wreck.  Only a few that were there survived.  My mother was not one of them.

My Dad didn't always smoke, but ever since my mom died he started and couldn't stop.  My Dad never did get a job.  In fact, he never even tried to get a job.  But he needed money for his addiction.  So his solution to get money was to rob the bank.  I told him it was the wrong idea, but he just ignored me and kept on doing what he was doing.  In case you were wondering, he did get caught.  Anyways, my Dad was taken away from me and brought to jail when I was just 10 years old.  In a way I was forced to leave my home and everything I had.  And ever since then I've been out in the cold.

Four years I've been out here.  Cold, Hungry, Lost, digging through garbage cans searching for leftover scraps of food.  Very rarely will I ever find anything.  Every once in a while, only if I'm very lucky, I'll find a few dollars on the ground and I'll be so happy and Ill run straight to the Super Market and buy as much food as I can with the money I have found.  All the change I get I save up to buy a big, big, perhaps even a lifetime supply of food.

I've made a little, yes I mean little, shelter in the woods, but it keeps warm enough in the winter.  Back home I used to watch that survival show.  I've learned many things from that show like which berries are poison and which berries are safe to eat and how to build a nice warm campfire.  It's pretty lonely around here.  I have nobody to talk to.  Not that I had any friends back home either.  I just hope that I won't always be as alone as I am right now.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Imagine A World Where Every Little Girl Owns A New Dress

I mentioned in one of my first posts that when I first heard about trafficking I didn't know where or how to get involved.  One of the things that God layed on my heart to get involved in was sewing dresses into pillowcases for Dress A Girl Around The World.   At the time, I didn't know how this would work, how I would get the materials or even how I would get the volunteers.  But God knew.

Each summer, our church has a summer camp for kids up to 5th grade.  Last summer they wanted the kids in summer camp to have a serving project built into a portion of their day at camp.  They heard about what I was wanting to do with the sewing project and asked if we could partner together.  From that partnership God provided enough pillowcases and trim materials to make over 175 dresses!  We are still using the kits those little hands put together for us last summer.  Along with God providing the dresses he also provided an opportunity for over 175 kids to hear about little girls in Africa who don't own even 1 dress.

We have been doing the sewing circle monthly.  Everyone brings their sewing machine and supplies and we have a time of fellowship, devotion and sewing.  There's a soft hum of machines if you walk by our room on a Tuesday night.  My passion for this ministry is still strong, but the number of people attending each month has slowly been dwindling.  I was starting to get discouraged and began to wonder if  maybe this was not where the Lord wanted me to be serving.  After our sewing group last month I prayed once again for God to use me how he wanted. 

God continues to show himself in amazing ways!  This week I received an email that our pastor was going to be mentioning our ministry at one of the weekend services.  Another person, not knowing this, inquired about me dropping off some of the dresses that have already been made to have on display during our Celebration of Hope. 

This is such an encouragement to me and a renewed sense of faith.  God is opening doors for more people to hear about our ministry.   I pray that more volunteers will be inspired to join our sewing circle and that more dresses can be sent to those sweet little girls in Africa. 



What if every little girl in the world owned at least one dress? 
What if that dress was sewn by you?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Comparison Of "12 Years A Slave" To Modern Day Slavery

A few weeks ago I went to see 12 YEARS A SLAVE - Academy Award winner for Best Picture of the Year.  It was such a hard movie to watch, but easy to see why this movie would receive that prestigious award.  It's a movie I think everyone should see.  It is the true story of Solomon Northrup who was living as a "free" black man in New York state during the pre-Civil war era. He was well respected in his community and a master fiddle player.  In 1841, lured by the promise of a job, he was abducted and sold into slavery for $650. He spent the next 12 years in captivity. He was beaten, abused and nearly hanged.  

As I sat there watching the movie, tears streaming down my face, it occurred to me that slavery hasn't really changed all that much.

Solomon was tricked by the opportunity of a job, drugged and awoke to find himself chained and held captive.  Today, in the US many girls are lured by the false promise of a modeling job and abroad they are lured by the false promise of a job in the city as a maid or working at a hotel.  They are often given drugs to force their compliance.  Once they become hooked on the drugs it is used as a method of control.  Their controller is now their supplier of the drugs they are hooked on.  Though girls today are not usually held in chains, they are held captive by either drug addiction or threats of violence either to them or their family if they should try to leave.

Before Solomon left for his job opportunity he obtained his papers showing that he was a free man, but those papers were taken from him by his handlers.   Without his "Free Papers", Solomon had no identification and no way to prove who he really was or where he was from. He was informed that he would now go by the name of Platt. When he refused he was beaten and abused until he had no other choice, but to comply.  The same thing happens still today.  Passports, drivers licenses and other forms of identification are withheld from the victim so they have no where to go if they leave.  Their pimp will often advertise them online under fake names that exude sexiness. 

Solomon was considered as property.  He had no rights, no place to call his own.  He was forced to work long hours of grueling work.  He was told what to do to and beaten if he did not comply.  He was told when he could eat and when he could sleep.  He was given a quota for the pounds of cotton to be picked each day and punished with a whip if the quota was not met.  For girls who are controlled today their life is very much the same.  Their pimp controls their every move.  They are given a quota for the amount of money they must earn each night and the consequences for not meeting this quota are extremely severe. 

In pre-Civil war times, once a person was sold into slavery, their escape or rescue was rare.    The same is true today.  Statistics say once a girl becomes trapped in the life that only 1% are ever rescued.  But Solomon had an advocate who wrote letters on his behalf to inform his family and friends of his circumstances.  Those letters eventually led to his rescue.  Just like Solomon has someone to speak out for him, advocates are still needed today.  People like you and I who can be a voice.  To speak up for better laws that protect victims and stiffer penalties for the pimps and johns.  To get involved in the education piece and prevent slavery before it happens.  To take a stand for stronger families and support those in need. 


The only thing that is vastly different is the amount of money paid for the control of a human being.
In the early 1800's the price of a slave in today's money would be approximately $40,000. 

Today a slave sells for $90. 

It's time for us to do something because the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 








Here is an interesting NY Times Article on Solomon North published 1853.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's Time For Us To Do Something

Another song with such powerful lyrics.  Right now it's time for us to do something. 



I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something