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buying a child’s life … the best of Christmas presents

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat …”   So goes the old children’s nursery rhyme.  Well, for lots of little children, Christmas will never come unless you help them.  According to the following article by Alison Storm, “an estimated 5.7 million children are forced to work in factories, fields, and brothels all over the world.”

As I’ve shared in a previous post, there is no birthday or Christmas gift that compares to knowing that a child has literally been bought out of slavery in your name.  Can you imagine it?  Yet World Vision, on the post referenced, and other organizations such as Mission: Rescue Life, make that possible.

How about it?  Body wash, the newest CD or a child?  Read Alison’s article in Redbook Magazine and find out some ways to make that happen.

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You Can Save a Child From Slavery

An estimated 5.7 million children are forced to work in factories, fields, and brothels all over the world. Help to stop child labor by doing one thing on this list.

By Alison Storm
Child Slavery

Photo Credit: Carolyn Cole

1. Face the facts. Many people think slavery ended after the Civil War, but, tragically, there are more slaves today than at any point in human history. Millions of child slaves — some of whom are sold by their impoverished parents — work in fields, brothels, private homes, mines, and restaurants overseas and even right here in the United States. “I had read about trafficking, but I was completely blown away when I saw young children being sold for sex on the streets of Thailand,” says Desirea Rodgers, 34, who traveled there with friends for the first time in 2002 to see what she could do to make a difference. Unable to shake the heartbreaking images from their minds, they started plotting the launch of a nonprofit that could help young girls and boys. “Rescue workers told us they weren’t able to help as many children as they wanted to because they didn’t have enough safe places for them to live,” Desirea says, so she and her friends created Love146, which runs a shelter in the Philippines, another Asian country with major child-slavery problems. There, victims receive counseling and education that prepares them to return to their families or reintegrate into society on their own. The nonprofit’s name comes from a young girl, enslaved in a brothel, who was known only by the number clients used to identify her, 146. The Love146 founders were never able to track that girl down again, but they’ve helped dozens like her, including Serey, who was trafficked into a brothel without her parents’ knowledge when she was 17. Serey was rescued by local cops after several months and brought to Love146’s Round Home, where she attended school and worked with a therapist for 18 months. “The Round Home is where my life changed,” she says. “It’s where a new me was born. This home heals the broken.” To help more children find a safe place to restart their lives, give at love146.org/donate. Five dollars provides a victim with a new pair of shoes; $15 buys a school uniform; $80 pays for school books for one year.

2. Shop for fair-trade jewelry and handbags at store.madebysurvivors.com. Started by husband-and-wife team John Berger and Sarah Symons in 2005, the nonprofit has helped more than 500 rescued trafficking victims and their children attend school for the first time and make a living by handcrafting the products sold online. “Education, employment, and economic empowerment are so important. If survivors can support themselves without selling their bodies, they’ll never go back,” Sarah says. Without such intervention, less than 10 percent of children born into brothels escape for good, she says. “I’ve seen traffickers wait outside shelters and toss in notes and cell phones to lure girls out.” The program saved Anjali, who was kidnapped from a train station in Calcutta, India, at 11 and was forced to work as a sex slave for two years. “With this jewelry program, my future is brighter because I’m able to support myself and my mom,” says Anjali. Now she attends school for free through the charity’s education-sponsorship program.

3. Find out how many slaves work for you by answering 11 questions at slaveryfootprint.org. You’ll discover how much slavery plays a part in producing the things you buy, from the mica that gives certain eyeshadows their shimmer to the cotton in some T-shirts — some raw materials are mined or picked by children as young as 6. “By understanding just how big the problem is, we can start demanding that companies are accountable for who’s mining their products and working in their factories,” says Amy Nyquist, a 37-year-old mom of two who helped create the tool.

4. Educate a freed child slave in East India for one year. All it takes is giving up a $3 latte once a week for 52 weeks and pledging it to the charity Mercy 29’s Lattes for Legacies program (mercy29.org/lattesforlegacies.html). Since 2009, the group has negotiated the release of 380 children from India’s quarries, where they worked 12-hour days extracting slate and marble.

5. Scan the barcodes of your favorite products using the Free2Work smartphone app to find out which companies are working to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains. Not For Sale, the nonprofit behind the app, has graded more than 300 brands, which include jewelry, electronics, and even chocolate.

6. Give whatever you can to Save the Children (savethechildren.org/donate ), a nonprofit that helps vulnerable kids in more than 120 countries. In 2010 alone, the group trained nearly 17,000 children in El Salvador to protect themselves from traffickers; in Indonesia, they rescued 10,000 kids from dangerous working conditions.

7. Report a potential trafficking situation. If you suspect that a child in your city may be a victim, call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888, or submit your anonymous tip online at polarisproject.org/report-a-tip. “Child trafficking is hard to spot,” says Sarah Jakiel, deputy director of the Polaris Project, the nonprofit that runs the hotline. “The biggest red flags are children who are working when they should be in school, have an unreasonable lack of freedom, and show any signs of physical abuse.” Since the hotline opened in 2007, they’ve helped more than 5,000 victims find safe housing, counseling, and legal help in states including Florida and Texas. “Children are lured here from places like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico with the promise of education,” says Kathleen Morris, who leads the International Rescue Committee’s anti-trafficking programs in Seattle. “They know they’ll have to work a little bit, but they often never get to go to school and are forced into jobs with long hours and no pay. What many people don’t realize is that this is happening in places we see on a regular basis, like small coffee shops and construction sites we drive by. It’s hidden in plain sight.”

one mother’s mission to bring her daughter home

I used to think that it was impossible for me to feel a stronger love than I do for my children, and then my daughter in love gave me three beautiful little grand girls.  The heart just isn’t big enough to contain the feelings I have for them.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my family.  Nothing.   So, if I learned one day that my daughter or daughter in love had gone out to run an errand, leaving a precious child in the care of safe people and she didn’t return, you bet your bottom dollar that I would be on a mission to find her, and that there would be nothing I wouldn’t do to bring her home.

That’s what happened to an ordinary mother in Argentina.  One day Susana Trimarco’s daughter, Maria de los Angeles “Marita” Verona, a young mother herself, went to a doctor’s appointment and didn’t come home.  For over ten long years, her courageous mother has been searching for her daughter, and what she has accomplished in the process stunned me this morning as I read the article.  In her hunt for Maria, Susana has rescued literally hundreds of Argentine women from the sex trade, women who were enslaved in misery until this remarkable woman helped liberate them.

Susana TrimarcoSusana has been honored with the “Women of Courage” award by the U.S. State Department and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on Nov. 28. Sunday night, President Cristina Fernandez gave her a human rights award before hundreds of thousands of people in the Plaza de Mayo (photo by Associated Press, Victor R. Calvano).

Susana continues to search for her daughter.  Rumors abound that she has been taken out of the country, that she was sighted just days ago …  This mother will never give up looking.  If she can’t find Maria alive, she wants to bring her body home.  I can’t imagine.

October 11 – International Day of the Girl

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to recognize the International Day of the Girl,” the first of which is to be held today, October 11, 2012.

So what does this mean?

What does it mean to be born a girl?

In the poorest regions of the world, girls are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet.

  • One billion people live in extreme poverty—70% are women and girls.
  • 67 million children worldwide don’t go to school, over half are girls.
  • One extra year of primary school can mean 10-20% higher wages for a girl.
  • When a girl in the developing world stays in school for seven or more years,
    she’ll marry later and have fewer, healthier children.
  • There are nearly 60 million child brides worldwide. Some as young as 12.
  • Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in
    childbirth than women in their twenties.
  • 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence and exploitation.
  • Nearly two-thirds of new HIV infections among youth 15 to 24 are in girls.
  • In a survey for the 2011 Girl Report, 43% of boys agreed with the statement:
    “There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.”
  • And in the same survey, 60% of children interviewed in India agreed that if
    resources are scarce, it’s better to educate a boy than a girl.
  • $92 billion—that’s the estimated economic loss in countries that do not strive
    to educate girls to the same level as boys.

The International Day of the Girl is about “helping galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” (General Assembly Resolution 12.9.11).  The day is an opportunity to speak against injustices and to advocate for gender equality.  It will be marked on 11 October with a Virtual Summit involving girls from around the world at http://girlsrights.org.

If you’d like to make a real difference in the lives of little girls around the world by providing education and health care, support the 4 million girl promise at Because I Am a Girl   If your heart is burdened for children sold into the sex trade, support World Vision‘s incredible ministry to rescue these little ones.

You may feel that you are only one person, so what difference can you make?  When you give, your individual gift joins hands with the gifts of other individuals and you provide opportunity to truly change a life.

the very inspiring blogger award

Thank you, Trudy Metzger at http://trudymetzger.com/2012/08/06/the-very-inspiring-blogger-award/ for honoring me with this special award.

How very kind of you!

The Rules

Of course with a title comes responsibility, and so having already acknowledged the person who nominated me and posting their link above, I will gladly: (1) post the award to my page; (2) list seven things about me;  (3) nominate a few awesome blogs and let each of them know they’ve been nominated.

Seven Things About Me:

1.  I make mistakes all the time, apologize and appreciate the mercy and forgiveness received, and hopefully do the same for others.   If we don’t try new things, speak our heart, confront evil when we see it, we will never grow and be the people God wants us to be.

2.  My mother died at 60.   I am 60.  Every single moment I have from now until the day I breathe my last breath will be an incredible gift she was never given.  I won’t allow anyone to rob me of the joy of the moment any more.

3.  I love my family.   I am blessed to be loved by a wonderful man and have a son who adores his “almost 3” girls, and two amazingly brilliant and tender daughters, one born from under my heart and the other adopted through marriage.   Those grand babies just have to blink at me to melt me to my core.   They are God’s “second chance” for me.

4.   God redeems.  Every piece of pain I have lived through, every tough experience, every tear shed, will be used to help someone else if I give it to the One who got me through it all, instead of holding onto bitterness and the need to have revenge.   Forgiveness sets us free from the power of the people that hurt us.

5.   I love what I do.  Every woman who walks through my office door is a blessing to me, as I hope I will eventually be to her.   Her gift of trust to me is priceless.  As I watch her grow, become more confident and recognize the lies in her life, replacing them with Truth, it is like watching a rosebud unfurl as the heady fragrance encourages others to ‘come and walk in the light of freedom!’

6.  Every day I try to be the hands, feet & heart of Jesus.

7.  I’ve been blessed to live internationally for many years.  Never, ever complain about this imperfect land we are fortunate to live in, or the people who lead it, until you have lived in a third world country.  Living in fear is a reality there.  Be thankful for everything, and share.

Now, whether they choose to accept the award is not as important as my publicly acknowledging how these blogs have been a source of inspiration to me. They are not in any particular order:

http://www.runningchatter.com/

her.menutics at http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/

http://thoroughlychristiandivorce.wordpress.com/

http://cindyburrell.wordpress.com/

http://hiddenplacessongsofdeliverance.blogspot.com/

http://www.kristamournet.net/

http://gracednotesministries.blogspot.com/

http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/

http://thebiblicalworld.blogspot.com/

http://speakingtruthinlove.wordpress.com/

This is only a few of the many inspiring and encouraging blogs I follow, and I encourage you to check them out. Many others deserve recognition as well.

another one for the good guys …

79 teenagers, all U.S. citizens between the ages of 13-17  who had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution by sexual trafficking rings all over the United States, are now in safe hands.   Thank God.  Thanks to the FBI, sting operations in 57 U.S. cities rescued these children from hotels, truck stops and store-fronts in a three-day sweep.  One of the victims reported being held since the age of 11.

Sexual trafficking happens everywhere, including Ohio … Toledo was one of the cities in the sweep.   According to a workshop I attended a few weeks ago, Toledo is one of the top cities involved in this horrendous human slavery business.

For the whole story, see this resource from the Chicago Tribune.