Saturday, January 7, 2012

A21 Campaign: the slavery footprints of human trafficking

According to my slavery footprint I have 32 slaves working for me - yes! 32... from across the world.

Slavery footprint? What is that? I hear you say. That is exactly what I was wondering this morning when I came across a mail from the A21 campaign. OK, so now you're wondering what the A21 campaign is, right? Let me explain.

The A21 campaign was formed in 2007; a raised hand declaring a willingness to make a difference and take a stand against human trafficking in the world. At the end of 2008, after lots and lots of research and hard work, the first shelter for victims of human trafficking opened its doors in Greece - a prime destination country in Europe. Working closely with police, hospitals and government officials the organisation works to offer these victims a safe, comforting and loving environment, as well as medical care, psychological assessment, counseling, assistance in university education, vocational training and access to legal assistance. They help to restore the lives of these victims giving them a second chance at life.

The latest shelter opened its doors in the Ukraine at the end of 2011 - a source country for many of the victims. "The 'exotic beauty' of Ukrainian and Russian woman has made them the most valuable commodities in the current international sex trade," according to A21. Here they will not only be working to help restore victims, but school programs have also been developed to educate at-risk students about the dangers of human trafficking and how to identify false job opportunities. (At this point I'm thinking about the job offer I saw in the Middle East yesterday with a hotmail e-mail address; hmm....)

As I continue to read up about the A21 Campaign's work I realize just how little I know of some of what is going on in the world that we live in. Many of us don't have a clue about the reality of some, do we? Do you ever stop to wonder about it? How easy it can be for someone to quote the Bible and judge when the worst that has ever happened to them is losing their lunch money. It really makes me stop and think. It puts things in a different perspective.

I used to think that human trafficking was basically children being abducted and sold for the sex trade but today I learned that it is that and more. I did a survey as one of the 21 ways to be the change: Demand no demand. Many of the products that we buy has modern-day slavery at its root: the cotton pickers, the miners, the harvesters, etc. - ground level workers for the end products that we buy in the store. The idea is to find out what some of these products are and to simply not buy them. If there is less or no demand for the product there will be less or no demand for the raw materials for which slave labor is used - a purpose for human trafficking.

The screenshot above - the yellow dots - indicates the origin of much of the raw materials used to manufacture the things that I've indicated in the survey. The survey takes into account electronic devices, vehicles, food (broken down into seafood, vegetables, red meat, dairy products, etc), jewelry, clothing, shoes, etc. The results will be unique to anyone taking the survey but resulting from my specific survey the biggest dot is China. Once you have your results you can click on each dot and see which raw materials originate from the marked areas. It is very interesting and educational.  

I thought I had a pretty simple life but based on the items that I own I was fairly amazed to see a slavery footprint of 32. Many others who have taken the survey had a footprint of 25 according to the website. Needless to say I didn't feel too impressed with my results. The cotton, grain, gold, diamonds, etc. comes from somewhere, right? I have never thought about it like that.

Obviously it is not saying that every mineral, diamond or cotton ball that is mined and harvested is done by a slave child abducted from her crib. The survey is based on research done in regard to human trafficking and what has been revealed as a result of working to expose this operation around the world.

How can you make a difference? Well, there are several ways. 21 of these are mentioned here. Check it out! You can write letters to victims, spread the word through your social network, buy t-shirts, etc to strike up conversations and raise awareness. (The KEY2FREE necklace is my favorite!) You can volunteer or do an internship, write, lobbying your politician, or send products (e.g. clothes, hygiene packs, etc.). You can pray, fast every 21st day of the month or donate money. There really is something for everyone! Is there one that suites you? Don't wait. I didn't - which is why you're reading this blog.

I watched a video clip on YouTube the other day about sex slaves in which a mother was saying - in essence - that she is OK with modern-day sex slavery as long as they put proper legislation in place, i.e. without legislation it is filthy but with legislation it's alright. She didn't seem to see a problem with another mother's daughter being ripped apart emotionally and spiritually, even physically abused for sex. I couldn't help but feel a mixture of anger and sadness and I wondered if she ever asked herself how she would feel if someone took her daughter away as a sex slave. Would that be OK? 

God is no respecter of persons. To Him every single person is precious; each one matters! He died for the sins of the world and now He says, Come! 
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. ~ John 3:16 AMP
The A21 Campaign are making this choice possible for the victims of human trafficking. Of this I am convinced: The A21 Campaign is a worthy cause. Our world is a broken place but we who have Christ need to be light bearers in the midst of the darkness. We need to be the light, the salt, the city on a hill. If we won't, who will?

To find out more about them or more detail of how you can get involved you can visit their website. They also have several videos available on YouTube to view and share. This (below) is Lillian's story; suddenly the figure 27 million - the number of modern day slaves in the world today had a face, a name, a voice. The figure became personal.

What will you do today to help raise awareness?

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