Did you know that slavery is still a HUGE deal? That it still happens everywhere around the world, even near our homes? I honestly had no idea, until the last few years, when I have continually been reminded of this evil in the world. Check out this infographic to see just how prevalent and wide-spread modern slavery is:
Awareness started for me a couple of years ago, when a table was set up on campus with information about a local organization that fights sex trafficking in Wisconsin called 5-stones. I could hardly believe that girls are kidnapped into sex slavery and exploited right here in nice little Appleton! More recently, I watched segments of a documentary called “Half the Sky” that tells of individuals in various countries who are fighting such oppression. It also described the realities of that life, where women are sold, tricked or kidnapped as young girls, and then manipulated into staying with prostitution by their threatening pimps and traffickers. I learned about The Exodus Road, which puts together search-and-rescue teams in the countries most heavily affected by trafficking. I attended a Better Way Imports party, which talked about the realities of trafficking such as the cycle of selling children that extremely poor families and those already in the sex trade get sucked into. We guests were then given an opportunity to buy fair trade goods made by women in many countries who have escaped sex trafficking. All of these encounters I had with the facts about modern slavery were depressing, infuriating and… hopeful.
People are out there fighting! People are working day and night to generate awareness, collaborate with national authorities, risk their safety in raids that rescue young girls and prosecute pimps and traffickers. People are giving economic opportunities to the women who have been set free, both so that these now-grown women don’t have to return to this dangerous occupation and so that they have options for their children other than selling them. People who will stop at nothing to end modern slavery are involved in emergency operations, such as raids of brothels, as well as sustainable operations, such as all of the partnerships created among organizations that teach women and provide them a fair wage for their products.
Better Way Imports is one such organization that supports the livelihood of rescued women, and I am choosing to be part of what they are doing. I believe my heart was prepared for this opportunity by everything I have been learning about sex trafficking. Not only that, but my passion for sustainable impacts from GlobeMed is also reflected in this choice. Better Way Imports partners with locally-based organizations that are not only giving women honorable, safe and fair-wage economic opportunities, but also teaching them general life skills and health lessons, or providing them with various forms of care.
Many of these partners, including Better Way Imports itself, are Christian mission organizations and give them women opportunities to learn about Christ and their value as daughters of God. While they give women honor by providing a way to stay out of this degrading slavery and by teaching skills, they are showing them that they have honor as wonderful creations of God.
My new role with this company is of a Freedom Advocate. My mission is to tell people about the realities of modern slavery, let them know about various ways of helping, as well as give people an opportunity to support rescued women. All of the products that Better Way sells have already been bought from these women, so that they can have a steady income to rely on. These items range from clothing to bags to jewelry to journals… and more! They are beautifully crafted by women in Uganda, India, Cambodia, Thailand, and various other countries in which their partner organizations are based.
I encourage you to look into some of the organizations I have mentioned, as well as any others you might find, and pray about ways you might be called to join this fight. I realize there are many issues in the world and we are not each called to fight all of them. You might feel that slavery is not your area to get involved in, which is fine! I will just tell you though, that I felt the exact same way – even well into these recent years while God has been bringing this issue to my attention. There are still plenty of other issues I feel passionate about, but this is one I can start fighting right now, with your help. The easiest way to support these women (and my work as an advocate) would be to shop at the Better Way store through this link. If you are interested in working with BWI, contact me. You could also help if you are interested in hosting a “freedom party,” where your guests could learn a lot about trafficking, BWI, and be given the opportunity to make purchases (this party can either be in person or via a Facebook event). Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want to get involved!