Monday, January 18, 2010

Thank you, Dr. King

In the United States, today is an official holiday. A day set aside to remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We look back on his life and legacy with admiration. But I wonder if we fully appreciate the price he paid for that legacy.

During his powerful civil rights and abolition work, Dr. King
- was arrested nearly two dozen times
- was physically assaulted at least four times
- had his house bombed during the bus boycott of 1955-56
- was assassinated in 1968

He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Today's civil rights activists continue the work of Dr. King, inspired by his sacrifice and passion. We take some comfort in knowing that, if we suffer abuse of any kind because of our work, we are in good company. Our work is fueled not only by our conviction, but by our gratitude for those who have gone before us.

Most of us have heard bits and pieces of Dr. Kings "I Have a Dream" speech. If you've never read or listened to it in it's entirety, do so today. Let his words move and inspire you. Let his passion stir your own and move you to action. Let his conviction strengthen your own.

Let us, today, in his honor, determine that "..we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters..."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We can end slavery

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness day here in the United States. What does that mean?
It means that for one day, the horrible crimes of human trafficking and modern-day slavery get a little more of the attention they deserve.

It means that, for one day, abolitionists around the world have a rare platform from which to educate the public and encourage people to get involved in the fight against human trafficking and slavery.

As I sit down to write this, I can't help but wonder how many more Human Trafficking Awareness days we'll need. How many will it take before this horrific crime is finally part of our history and not our present or our future? How many will it take before the poor and vulnerable of the world are freed not only from the chains of slavery, but of fear and violent oppression?

There are more slaves in the world today than at anytime in history; 27 million by conservative estimates. 27 million men, women and children who are robbed of their freedom, their health, and sometimes their very lives. Generations of family members are born into slavery because a great grandfather borrowed $25 to pay for food, or medical care and agreed to work off his debt. Or because they were tricked into taking "good-paying jobs" far from home, but instead find themselves forced into prostitution or domestic servitude.

Today, on this day that is routinely set aside to remember the victims of human trafficking, let's do more than just remember them. Let's do something to set them free.

There are so many things you can do to help bring freedom to those who don't have it, and protect future generations from being sold or coerced into becoming generations of slaves.

Learn more about the realities of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. There are some great resources available including:

State Department Trafficking in Person's Report
Attorney General's Assessment of U.S. Efforts to Combat Trafficking
General Trafficking Statistics
Stories from former slaves

Read one, or read them all. Take some time to look at the faces, and learn the names of people were once brutally oppressed by slave owners. Let them tell you how much they value their freedom.

Tell others what you've learned. Tell friends, family members, co-workers... anyone who will listen.

Call, email or write your Senators and Representatives. Ask your Representative to support the Child Protection Compact Act. Tell your Senators you'd like to see a Senate version of the bill introduced as well.

Support local, national or international organizations that work to end human trafficking and slavery. Give your money or time. Give clothes or food to victim shelters. If you're a graphic designer, web developer, writer, social worker or lawyer, give your services.

Check out:
International Justice Mission
Polaris Project
Not for Sale
Rowing Against Slavery
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
and of course, once our non-profit status is official, you'll be able to support us, too!

Today is not the beginning of a movement. The movement to end slavery and human trafficking began years ago. But today, you can join the fight and help us reach the tipping point that will bring slavery to an end once and for all.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year from Nowhere2Hide

Happy belated New Year everyone!
After a two-week, real-life vacation (my first in a very long time), we're gearing up for the new year. Over the next couple of days, we'll be spending lots of time thinking through all the possibilities that the new year holds. We'll be back on Twitter (and possibly on Facebook) starting Monday.

Before I get too far into our hopes, dreams and plans for 2010, I have to stop for a moment and say thank you. I'm overwhelmed by the response and attention that Nowhere2Hide has received. Our blog has 18 followers, and we have over 900 followers on Twitter. I've talked with many of you, either via email, phone, or (if I'm lucky) face-to-face. Your support and willingness to partner in our efforts to end human trafficking and slavery have been more encouraging that I can explain. From, not just the bottom of my heart, but from my whole heart - thank you thank you thank you.

We have some exciting things happening with Nowhere2Hide. Those of you who read this blog regularly may recall that, in a post several months ago, I said we had no intention of forming a non-profit organization because we felt there were enough of them out there already. Well... after talking with some fellow Michiganders who are very involved in anti-trafficking and -slavery efforts here, we've decided that we are in fact going to start a non-profit. The paperwork has been filed and, barring any unforeseen issues, Nowhere2Hide will be an official non-profit in a matter of weeks.

We've already selected our officers and Board of Directors, and our first meeting is this coming Friday. This is a step I never thought we'd take. But we've discovered that there's a significant need to raise awareness about trafficking and slavery issues in Michigan, so that's what we're going to do.

In mid-December, I had a very encouraging meeting with a woman named Bridgette Carr. She's a law professor at the University of Michigan and runs a human trafficking clinic that provides pro bono legal aide for trafficking victims. She's also a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. Nowhere2Hide will be partnering with the MHTTF to create a video aimed at raising awareness about trafficking issues in Michigan. We're very excited for this opportunity!

At some point, Nowere2Hide will start a fundraising campaign. The money will likely be used for print material, and to help create the video.

On Saturday, January 16th, I'm attending a luncheon hosted by the Michigan Darfur Coalition. It will be a great opportunity to meet some of the refugees who have settled here, and to connect with Coalition leaders.

This year, we will also be talking quite a bit about a woman named Katy. She's in the process of raising money so she can spend a year in Cambodia working with an organization that provides after care for women and girls who have been rescued from slavery. I'm hoping to talk with her soon, and will be writing a post about her story, and ways we can help her get to Cambodia.

In the summer of '09, the Child Protection Compact Act was introduced in the House. It's still stuck in committee, and in 2010 we'll be encouraging you to help move this bill forward.

We will be brainstorming ways to gain media attention regarding trafficking and slavery, and will be paying close attention to accuracy in the media. We will be working to turn the tide this year, encouraging those in the media to investigate trafficking and slavery issues.

And of course, I'll be in Washington D.C. in April for International Justice Mission's Global Prayer Gathering.

2010 promises to be an exciting year, not just for Nowhere2Hide, but for abolitionists around the world. Momentum is building, and 2010 could see us reach a significant tipping point in terms of awareness and public demand for change.