Sunday, April 28, 2013

Different Ways High School Students are Combating Human Trafficking

I have recently been thinking about ways that young people can make a difference and help fight human trafficking.  I just recently hosted Freedom Walk Buffalo, a walk and seminar on my college campus to help raise awareness and funds on human trafficking, which around 30 high school students attended. When I was talking with one of the high school students, I realized that

 "young people want to make a difference,
but are intimidated to create a large event
because they do not have experience
with creating an event in the first place!"  

So, I decided to create this post to show young people how they can engage in what I call "simple activism."  When I say this, I am referring to the creation of smaller scale events that help combat human trafficking, but are more tangible and less overwhelming for young students in high school and even middle school to organize, because they are on a smaller scale.  "Simple activism" can also serve as a stepping stone so that these young'ins can see how they are making a difference and not be intimidated to create events larger events!  Below are 4 creative events that high school students from across America have created to help combat modern-day slavery.

Be inspired!

Take a Stand... Literally
Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston
March 7, 2013 | High school student, Kelsey DeBerry was inspired to take action against human trafficking at the Passion 2013 Christian Conference she attended this past year.  With her lead, and the help of the International Justice Mission, a group of about 100 students from her high school stood 27 hours to represent, raise awareness, and pray for the 27 million people trapped in human trafficking around the globe.  This project was part of the International Justice Mission's "Stand for Freedom" project.  "Stand for Freedom" took place from March 5-15 this past year and brought students from high schools and colleges around the country together to stand for freedom for 27 hours.  Listen to a short radio interview with Kelsey DeBerry here.

Dodgeball Tournament | Students vs Teachers
February 22, 2013 | Evergreen Senior High School's "Peace Jam club" held a dodgeball tournament between students and faculty to raise funds and awareness to help combat human trafficking.  Dr. Jeff Brodsky, founder of JOY International, was invited and spoke to the students about rescuing children trapped in slavery.

Rally & Collect Donations for a Local Rescue Mission
October 15, 2012 | Students from Lutheran South Academy in Houston, Texas, USA collected over 6,500 donations to be sent to Freedom Place.  Freedom place is a local Christian organization which rescues domestic victims of human trafficking and assists with their rehabilitation.

Bake-Sales & Educate your Classmates
January 2012 | A group of students from Mt. Spokane high school in Mead, Washington, USA started a club to raise awareness, funds, and educate on conscious consumption to help combat human trafficking.  Check out pictures from their bake sale/t-shirt sale where they raised awareness and funds, here.  They also created brochures to hand out and had slips of paper they handed out during the bake sale! I particularly like the photo with the text "Is your chocolate made by slaves"?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Artrworks for Freedom: What Modern Slavery Really Looks Like

They say that an image is worth a thousand words and so today, we bring you a set of haunting images of human trafficking. The nonprofit organisation "Artworks for Freedom" was founded by Kay Chernush, an award-winning photographer, and their mission is to "use the power of art in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking". This is what modern day slavery really looks like.

For more images, please visit the "Artworks for Freedom" website!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Top 7 TED Talks on Human Trafficking

Today, BASI brings you a selection of seven of the most powerful talks on human trafficking to be found on TED Talks. For those of you unfamiliar with the organisation, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and it is a set of conferences worldwide aimed at disseminating "ideas worth spreading". The owner, a private non-profit Sapling Foundation, provides these inspirational talks for free in order to educated the masses and it seems their mission is being fulfilled - over one billion (yes, billion!) people have tuned in to watch their free online videos. Today, let's increase that number by watching the following gems.

1. Combating Human Trafficking (AnnJannette Alejano-Steele)

How do we combat human trafficking? AnnJannette Alejano-Steele has dedicated her life to spotting, researching, and combating human trafficking in Colorado. As she explains in this eye-opening talk, human trafficking takes many forms and it's not always easy or convenient to see the truth in what's happening around us.

2. Human Trafficking - 21st Century Slavery (Faridoun Hemani)

Faridoun Hemani is a broadcast journalist, and founder of independent production company Linx Productions. He has been in the television news business for 35 years, and has covered major international stories around the world -- from the assassination of President Sadat in 1981 for CNN, to the civil war in Lebanon and events in India and Pakistan for ABC News, and as the Bureau Chief for Central Eastern Europe for WTN (Worldwide Television News), covered the revolutions of Central Europe, the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, and the war in Iraq and Somalia. Today, Faridoun works with organizations such as the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the UN and other international organizations covering stories of a social nature in the developing world. In 2010, Faridoun co-produced a 6-part series on Human Trafficking (as part of Moonbeam-Linx), that aired on BBC World Television. The series was supported and funded by End Human Trafficking Now (EHTN), a Geneva based organization that encourages businesses to take an active role to stem this modern form of slavery.

3. Human Trafficking (Rachel Lloyd) 

 Rachael Lloyd is an anti human-trafficking advocate. She is the founder and Executive Director of the New York-based Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS). Since immigrating to the United States, Rachel has worked with incarcerated women, as well as combatting commercial sexual exploitation of children and young women within the United States. GEMS is the only organization in New York State of its kind. The organization has helped hundreds leave the commercial sex industry and the documentary and exposé of human trafficking of young girls on the streets of New York titled, Very Young Girls was directed by David Schisgall and Nina Alvarez and highlights the work that GEMS does. Rachel was named one of the 50 Women Who Change the World, as well as recognized as one of the 100 Women Who Shape New York by the New York Daily News.


4. Human Trafficking - Dreams and Realities (Diep Vuong)

As co-founder of Pacific Links Foundation (PALS) a US-based international NGO, Diep Vuong designed and spearheads an innovative program to combat human trafficking in Vietnam. PALS focuses on human trafficking prevention through scholarships, vocational training and public advocacy in vulnerable communities. It is the only organization that operates two shelters for trafficking survivors at the Southern and Northern borders of Vietnam.

5. How to Combat Modern Slavery (Kevin Bales)

In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research -- and names the price of freeing every slave on earth right now.

6. The Fight Against Sex Slavery (Sunitha Krishnan)

Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from sex slavery, a multimilion-dollar global market. In this courageous talk, she tells three powerful stories, as well as her own, and calls for a more humane approach to helping these young victims rebuild their lives.

7. Photos That Bear Witness to Modern Slavery (Lisa Kristine)

For the past two years, photographer Lisa Kristine has traveled the world, documenting the unbearably harsh realities of modern-day slavery. She shares hauntingly beautiful images -- miners in the Congo, brick layers in Nepal -- illuminating the plight of the 27 million souls enslaved worldwide.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Freedom Walk Buffalo 2013

This past Saturday
 the BASI Buffalo team held the first ever anti-human trafficking awareness walk at the University at Buffalo.  Approximately 170 people attended our seminar and 3km walk, which is a great turn out, being that it was our first walk. It's amazing to believe that just 4 months ago Christine and Dave sat down and decided to create an event where both the college and city community could come together to educate and raise funds to fight slavery!

We raised $321 which will be given to a local anti-trafficking coalitionP.A.T.H. of Western New York, and our spotlight charity, [FREE-THEM]. Although this is less than half of what the BASI Buffalo team raised for the [FREE-THEM] Freedom Walk, this is a great start. Next year we hope to raise $2000 USD to help pay for 1 year rehabilitation funds for 2 survivors of human trafficking.  We didn't push fundraising as much this year because we wanted to focus on raising awareness!  In order to make a difference, you have to first be aware of the problem!

I would love for you to join me  as I cover all the great things that took place at Freedom Walk Buffalo 2013!  If you were there I hope you re-experience the walk, and if you were not there, I hope you can now feel like you were! 

Written By: Christine, Founding Director of Bloggers Against Social Injustice
Photos By: Joyce Adiges and Nye's Photography

Let's Go!!!
6:30am Arrival at the University at Buffalo to begin set-up.  Myself, Susan and Jas were up all night with final food preparations and schedules.  Kingdom Ventures, a fair trade and made-by- survivor boutique also came early to set up!

7:00am  Volunteers arrived to help set up.

9:00am  Registration.  After arrival, attendees grabbed breakfast, chatted with numerous anti-trafficking organizations, checked out our human trafficking awareness art exhibit and shopped fair trade through Kingdom Ventures.  This was all done listening to live music! 

Volunteers working at the registration table.  BASI committee member, Dave, is on the right next to Jon, a volunteer from UB Students for Life.
Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Fadner for bringing Kingdom Ventures to Buffalo with products made by survivors! Don't worry, if you missed them, you can check out their online shop, just click Kingdom Ventures.
(Left to right) Walk committee member Susan, my friend Paige, myself, and master of acquiring food sponsorships, Eleni.
We had university clubs join us, including UB Students for Life, Circle K, Boxing Club, and Amnesty International.
Thank you for the live music!

10:15am  Amazing honored speakers seminar.  After a quick welcome from myself, Susan, Dave and Safra, we heard testimonies and talks from Randy Phipps, Renan Salgado, Kerry Battenfeld, and Anna Beard.  They all did so amazing!  I have a recap below for each speaker.

Here you can see the BASI committee members in our staple dip dyed BASI - Buffalo team shirts!
[For security purposes there was no multimedia coverage during the speaker seminar.]

Randy Phipps.  What a great way to start our seminar!  Randy is an executive committee member and the director of public relations for our spotlight charity, [FREE-THEM].  He joined us from Canada with a team of [FREE-THEM] freedom fighters.  Phipps was a very passionate speaker, through his passion we could tell that this is not just an issue he is fighting for, it is lives that he is fighting for.  He really grasped our attention when he told us, 
“Think about the First Niagara Center – the capacity
of that venue is 19,000 – fill that venue twice, and
add a couple thousand, and that’s the number of
people that are trafficked for the purposes of
forced labor and sexual exploitation.”
40,000 within the United States borders, this is the number of people trapped in the slave trade.  If you think about it, this is only the tip of the ice berg!  
Follow [FREE-THEM] on Facebook and Twitter!

Renan Salgado.  Salgado has been working as a human trafficking specialist, helping with the rescue and investigation for 13 years.  He told us he wanted to start by putting us in a certain perspective. Salgado specializes with agriculture human trafficking cases.  Agriculture slavery is the most prevalent form of human trafficking and in New York State there are thousands of farms with slaves working the agriculture.  He pointed out that every day, our economy relies on people trapped in the slave trade.  "Our economy is dependent on agriculture.  Our economy is dependent on slaves."  

Kerry Battenfeld.  Battenfeld told us more about P.A.T.H. and how we could become more involved with local anti-trafficking organizations.  She pointed out the importance of taking action and spreading awareness right within our communities. She also told us about the importance of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and current legislation regarding human trafficking. For more information on local activism feel free to contact us!

Anna Malika.  Dressed fashionably with a bubbly smile and demeanor, and with a slight valley girl accent (as she later put it) she began with, 
"I know you were all told that a victim or survivor
would be hear to talk to y'all and I hope y'all aren't
disappointed because I am not either
of those. I am an over-comer."  
Applause. Anna stressed how important it was to see former victims of human trafficking as over-comers instead of branding them with their pasts.  She told us how important it is for over-comers to define themselves by their talents and abilities.  Anna's testimony was different from any other story of human trafficking that I had seen on the news.  She was a young, vulnerable high school girl who was taken advantage of.  It wasn't until after the fact that she realized she had been trafficked.  She told us she first realized she was trafficked when she read an article on human trafficking a few years later.

"I read through the list... 'Hey this is my story...
hey, this is my story too'... oh my gosh!
I was trafficked! I started to FREAK OUT right there!"

Malika wanted us to realized how important it is to recognize the signs of human trafficking.  "The signs were all there.  From a distance it seemed like I was happy, but the signs were all there...It wasn't until this past Christmas, in December, that I felt joy for the first time."  She started to cry and the room went silent.  She shared with us the exciting news about her graduation from Mercy Ministries, and assured us with a glimmer in her eye, "I now love my life."  Ever since, Beard has been speaking and working with numerous organizations to help bring an end to human trafficking.  She is currently enrolled in college, on top of speaking around the nation and working with organizations, and would like to work with legislation to help increase punishments for those prosecuted with human trafficking. She encouraged us to take our talents and use them to raise awareness or funds, "If you are an artist, make bracelets and raise money to fund rescue and recovery."  She was an inspiration to us all! 
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

12:30pm  The Walk. Students and the community joined together to EXIT SLAVERY.  After I jumped onto a table to give directions we headed down the stairs, out the door, and onto the streets.  It is important that all people, especially college aged people who are the ages of those most susceptible to being trafficked, take a stand against trafficking. If we all do not take a stand, who will?  It is people that push for laws to change and for corruption to end.  People are the driving force causing human trafficking and people are the driving force to end human trafficking.  We can end slavery!

[FREE-THEM] brought postcard to hand out to people passing.  The postcards displayed facts about human trafficking and ways to get involved!

 Once we were out of the door and in the wonderful fresh air and sunlight I told my fellow BASI Buffalo member, "We need to start chants like they did at the [FREE-THEM] Freedom Walk!  Who wants to start it? Marc? Dave?"  

From there on we shouted chants in 2-part chants:


"Hey hey, ho ho, slavery has got to go!"

"What do we want?"


"When do we want it?"


A few times I stopped chanting just to hear the sound of the crowd.  It took words out of my mouth.  The sound of these chants give hope and tell people that slavery is real, happening, and needs to end.  The sound of the chants were beautiful.  I thought to myself, 
"I can not believe that in only 4 months I went
from sitting at a coffee table with Dave,
googling 'How to Organize A Walk', to
"I am standing here with over 170 people fighting to take a stand against slavery!  And it all started with that simple idea."  It showed me that everyday people like me... and you... can make a difference!  Through the seminar and the walk, people have become more aware of the signs and sphere of slavery today.  The people who leave the walk will have something to say to others.  Those others could be potential victims or potential buyers.  Of these people at the walk, a hand full will go on to start their own events to be change agents and even influence laws to be changed to increase punishments to traffickers and remove punishments for those victimized by slavery!

In the center of this picture you can see members of the domestic survivor safe house, United Hands of Hope, (left to right) Deputy Elizabeth Fildes, Mrs. New York (Karen O'Hara), and Senija Mehmedovic.

Freedom Walk Buffalo concluded on a hill on the University at Buffalo's North campus.  We took pictures as a group before everyone went their own ways.  Drops of inspiration were spread today.  I hope and pray that those drops of inspiration live on and spread throughout the region, nation and world.  This was not the end of the event to end slavery, this was the beginning of a new chapter of freedom fighters.

Most of our walk's committee members with Anna and the [FREE-THEM] freedom fighters!

Special Thanks to our committee members! I could not have done this alone!
Susan, Safra, Natalie, Cassie, Dave, Marc, Christine & Leslie

Humbled thank you to our honored guests who have dedicated their lives to fighting human trafficking!

Joanne Lorenzo, founder of Lighthouse Ministries

Deputy Elizabeth Fildes, Program Director of Human Trafficking for Erie County Sheriff's Office, and co-founder of United Hands of Hope House

Thank you to our photographers:
Joyce Adiges, Nye's Photo

Thank you to our artists and our live musician!

Thanks to our generous sponsors for providing breakfast!

The entire event went so well, and to my surprise every part of the day began on time or even early!  There was such positive feedback from the walkers and the organizations and I am so excited to plan for the 2nd annual Freedom Walk Buffalo to be held next year!  I am just an average girl with an idea to end slavery and inspiration from freedom fighters like Randy from [FREE-THEM].  I took a chance and initiative.  What will you do today, tomorrow, and in a week to fight slavery?

"It just begins with a simple idea and a motivation.  With that you can use your resources and take a stand to fight human trafficking with your talents, where you live!"
-- Christine, Founding Director of Bloggers Against Social Injustice

Follow on Bloglovin