human trafficking

Kids Talk Justice May Edition

Let’s talk justice together as we move into summer! Congratulations to all who conquered another school year, not for the faint of heart!

Hunger: When a Grandmother’s gift multiplies. How does educating others play a role in the success of this business that gives back? 

Clean Water: Have you checked out Use it Wisely with your family? Over 100 ideas to conserve water in your home.

Education: In Pakistan, 88,000 child brick laborers are given access to school. What do you think of that number of children working in harsh conditions?

Refugees: The refugee crisis in Europe is reviving churches. Are those that fear refugees missing an opportunity?

Human Trafficking: Children on the move as unaccompanied refugees are at a heightened risk for being trafficked. #childrenuprooted

Restorative Justice: A modern day Harriet Tubman. A truly extraordinary story of redemption and a call to look at the prison system through new eyes.

Poverty: Check out this photo essay of the women and children of Chad. How does exploring a new place and culture expand our sense of justice?

Homelessness and Sustainability: A refugee makes homes and provides jobs from recycled plastic bottles. What do you think of this creative practice?

Creation Care: Mangroves in Madagascar, what do you think of their ideas to protect the new trees?

Poverty: The real people facing budget cuts to Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, and rural water development. Everyone has a story.

How did you talk justice this month? 

 

 

The Long Night

The Long Night

As part of my 36 Hope Expands Series, I am practicing proximity by sharing the film The Long Night by Tim Matsui with other members of The Global Team of 200. The film is free to watch through this weekend.

The film follows lives effected by domestic sex trafficking in the Seattle area.

Seattle. The United States. Human trafficking happens here too.

 

The Parents.

The Runaway

The Addict

The Police

 

The film is difficult to watch. Being exposed to such profound pain is not fun. I almost deleted this whole post, when I realized that part of proximity is hard.

Lisa-mcdsI would like to share two parts of the film with you.

Lisa, a heroin addict and prostitute, arrived at Genesis (a program implemented by the police to help trafficked minors into a new life.) A police officer gave her a bathrobe. She wept at the simple act of care.

Here you can see a photo essay of Lisa’s journey.

The runaway returned home, yet felt she would never be able to win her parents forgiveness. ‘I didn’t need to. They loved me unconditionally.’

 

Tim Matsui has not stopped with just making the film. He worked with The Fourth Act, an organization that brings storytellers and images together to create change and The Fledgling Fund doing the same through filmmaking.

 

There are hard things out there that shouldn’t be. It is so easy to look away.

Our challenge is to look and shrink the distance between us and those in need and respond. 

It’s about proximity. 

Start by viewing this photograph. It is cause to pause. 

Dear Anna

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Photo Credit: “Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department” 

a mother in Mumbai, India, who is looking for her lost daughter.

 

My monthly post for Exodus Road from the perspective of a mother.

Read Anna’s Story here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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Image courtesy of  papaija2008/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear Anna, 

You have been gone for 365 days. I have watched the seasons pass over the River Neva. The waters are ice-covered again and all around lies in winter drab. This is how my heart feels, dear Anna. We ate a tula gingerbread on your sixteenth birthday. 

I stand on the water’s edge at sunset and sunrise and pray that you might return to us. Pray is not the right word, I plead. 

You left for me, for Pavel, for Pyotr, for Petya to help us have a better life. 

There are whispers on the streets that the people you left with were dishonest. That you may be in great hurt and danger. It’s like the ice cracking across the river through me. You were only trying to bring us hope.

I did not know. I am so sorry I did not know. 

Pavel has began telling the story of the Firebird and the Grey Wolf to his brothers as you used to each night. In the end when Prince Ivan regained all he had lost. This is what I plead, that you might regain all you have lost. 

If you could read my heart, you would know I would come for you if I knew where you were. I would trade spaces the very second I could. I would give everything to go back and not allow you to board that bus. I hope you are not cold.  I hope you are not alone. 

So I will continue to plead as the river changes. I will keep telling mothers, to hold their daughters close. No matter how bad it becomes, we cannot let this happen anymore. 

Love, Your Matushka

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Sometimes a family can lose their daughter to human trafficking under the veil of the promise of work.

Other times family’s find themselves in the position of selling their daughters into slavery. This seems beyond our imaginations.

Read the following story by Laura Parker How Can a Mother Sell Her Child? 

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Understanding that truth places us in the proximity of making difference.

Not Today

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The film Not Today is coming to Holland, Michigan!

None of us are free if one of us is enslaved.

 

Click over here to watch the film trailer.

This film is about human trafficking, specifically trafficking immersed in the caste systems of India.

This film is about making a difference.

(Visit the website to see if the film is coming to a theater near you, or how you can bring it to your area.)

 

Ruth Ann Doane of Manna Global Goods and Better Way Imports is hosting this film in Holland. (Ruth was a guest here and shared about how Manna Global Goods came into being.)

The film has some amazing partnerships you can read about those here. They include Focus on the Family, YWAM and Live 58. The film also won Best Justice Film at the Justice Film Festival.

 

If you live in the Holland area how can you see the film?

  •  The film will show at AMC Star 8 Theater in Holland the weekend of May 17
  • To reserve a ticket contact Ruth at ruthanndoane@gmail.com
  • Tickets will also be available to purchase at Better Way Imports next week. The address is:

201 W. Washington #100
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: (616) 648-0900

I will provide an update on the exact date and time on About Proximity’s Facebook Page. 

The film will offer some great ways to follow up and be involved in the fight against human trafficking.

 

The Tulip Time Festival is this week in Holland. When you are out and about head over by 

Manna Church on the corner of 9th and Central Avenue to check out Manna Global Goods and make a difference. 

TOH Bracelets

And Action!

This is my monthly update for The Exodus Road.

You Can Make a Difference! 

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Exodus Road staffer, Kelley J. Leigh, wrote an article at Burnside Writers Collective about the gap we can feel between sex trafficking and our safe suburban lives.

She writes:

One turn at a time.  One seed of holy unrest, watered.   One humble step. One choice to say “Yes” to the One true God who has a heart to rescue us all, one soul at a time.

Start small.  Water the seed. Let it grow.

Be a hero in this larger story.

Join the rescue.

Read the rest of her story Entering the Bat Cave here.

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I’m With Lincoln:

Watch the powerful video here.

You can sign a petition here to tell your senator that ending human slavery is important to you.

Following the Made in a Free World blog  and The Exodus Road blog keeps you up-to-date on ways to respond.

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Trade of Innocents

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A big welcome to our guest writer, Diane Harvey. She’s a super woman at placing herself in the proximity of renewal. She’s also our steady friend from Australia full of insight and encouragement. 

I saw the movie, Trade of Innocents last night, starring Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino, which focuses on the worldwide problem of human trafficking. It was powerful and distressing just like I thought it would be. It was a thriller. I felt my heart beating in some places, and spent most of the time with my hands gripping my tissue packet.

The movie is set in one community in South East Asia. The American husband and wife were played by Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino. He was a detective and they were both trying to come to terms with the kidnapping and loss of their own young daughter in an idyllic American suburb.

There was resistance to the investigative operation. The police chief argued that the problem was too big to fix and that they were only after one man, that it was better to agree with the community who see and remain silent. We later found out that he was being paid off and was himself part of the problem as he was gaining financially by tipping the trafficker onto raids and turning a blind eye.

The disturbing trade is highlighted in the interaction between the American tourist, who appeared to be a married businessman and family man, but who wanted to use really young girls, and the brutal trafficker who agreed to supply ‘freshly picked flowers’ for him through kidnapping.

We got a glimpse into the lives of  the women and girls who were already captive, in one scene we saw one lady physically, verbally and emotionally abused by the trafficker who later died of her injuries. The dialogue transitioned to unsubtitled Thai in this scene, which added to the viewer’s feeling of powerlessness, horror and fright.

In the quiet moments we were taken with the sweet American lady (Sorvino) who shared about her story of loss, and helped escaped victims tell their story and begin to heal as they woke up each day in a safe environment. When she began her work, they were wary of her. A local had said to her, “they don’t trust Americans. They come, take their photos and leave nothing (good) behind.”

I have been thinking about this topic for a while so I wasn’t being presented with this grimy reality for the first time. The thing that did shock me was the reference to the practice of sewing girls back up to make them appear as virgins. I knew that women sometimes do this before marriage in some cultures to appear virginal, but it didn’t occur to me that this was being done as part of this evil trade.

At the end of the movie we had various non-profit partners speak to us about what they do in prevention, rescue and rehabilitation and heard some stories of hope. We were encouraged to pray about what part we could play and encouraged that we can act both individually and corporately to fight this trade (which is larger than the arms trade and the drug trade). I signed a petition for our country to have a minister for human trafficking, gathered some brochures, a fridge magnet on a “Walk for Freedom” fundraiser and left with the determination to fight this evil trade.

Will you join with me in my fight to abolish modern day slavery?

The Film Website and trailer

Resource Website

Facebook  and Twitter 

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Diane Harvey resides in Perth, Australia.  She is 36, has been happily married for 6 years, and has two beautiful children. She has studied education and theology. Currently, she is on maternity leave and serving in her church in the areas of women’s discipleship and social justice.

Anna’s Story Part 4

Read Anna’s Story Part 1 

Anna’s Story Part 2

Anna’s Story Part 3

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[Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Anna’s Story Part 4:

The city streets faded behind Anna. Green stood out against the sides of the road and there were buildings with mountains rising behind. When her feet landed on the dusty road, she paused to take a deep breath. She dared to hope this was a breath of freedom. At this place of fragile hope, a woman gently led her to her space in a dormitory-like room, only her bed was not empty. Sitting tall on the side was Valentina. She stretched her hands out to Anna.

“They found you.” Valentina held her tightly and Anna’s tears fell onto her shoulder. “I was sold, they did not even let me say goodbye. The next place was even harsher, but shortly after I arrived there, a raid occurred. After I was rescued, I worked so hard that they might locate you.”

“I owe you everything,” Anna told her, surprised to be loved.

Valentina shook her head, “No, we can be happy together, we are saved.”

 

Anna slept through a dark night into day, no terrors to disturb her sleep. The sun was shining high when she woke and she sat up, again surprised. She touched her fingers together, pressed her palm against where her heart resided under her chest, alive.

Here in this place: she ate, doctor’s visited and she spoke daily with a quiet woman who helped her understand. When she talked to this woman, shards of ice dislodged from her frozen River Neva and began to float away. The best time of the day was the evening, when they sat in the grass and spoke together. Some girls had written poems, some songs and others were quiet. Anna sat still, quiet and listened. She was not alone. They too had endured and emerged in hope.

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[Image courtesy of Hordur Vihjalmsson /FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

News arrived that she had been cleared of the local legal system. There was a room with a telephone. Her hands trembled when she drew it to her ear, her Matuska’s voice and Pytor, Pavel and Petya jabbering in the background. At first there were too many tears to speak. When words broke through the tears she repeated, I’m sorry over and over again. Her Matushka whispered an invitation to come home. They had a surprise for her.

That evening, in the group, she stood up from her quiet. Into the night she recited the story of The Firebird and The Grey Wolf, the story she whispered at bedtime to her brothers in a forever ago time, the story that she whispered into the dark, until hope drained away. Now, when she spoke there were stars above her in an open sky.

…And Prince Ivan lay dead. His brothers took all that he had; the firebird, the horse and Helen. Then the crow brought the water of death and the water of life to the grey wolf. The grey wolf revived Ivan with the water. He regained all he had lost.

“He regained all he had lost. I have regained all I have lost. You have regained all you have lost.” She walked around the circle touching the top of each girl’s head like the child’s game of duck, duck, goose and whispered you have regained all you have lost.

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Now, she and Valentina counted the days passing in happiness. Two months passed, and they were cleared by the government to travel home, home. They whispered the word to one another, unbelieving, surprised.

“I have nowhere to return,” Valentina announced to the NGO volunteer who would accompany them on the flight.

“She does, she is my sister,” answered Anna. “We go together.”

The miles they had traveled were below them, moving away, out of their vision.

 

They were waiting for them, her Matuska, her brothers and Mrs. Belikor. They held hands all the way home. Only home was no longer the little apartment without light, without heat. Their home was now behind the bakery that was once Mr. Belikor’s. He leaned over one morning explained her Matushka and left the world, and with Mrs. Belikor’s help the bakery would become Anna’s. The 1,000 USD stipend she was given, would pay for business school.

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[Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Four years later:

Anna stood at the edge of the River Neva. Spring had arrived, melting the frozen layers, the water ran clear and forward. She turned and stole a glance at her bakery. Valentina swept the front walk and raised her hand to wave toward Anna. They would employ another girl today to knead bread, another girl that might had followed the sign she had years ago. She would add to their number and draw them up safety, to hope.

Where rescue resides there is hope.

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Anna’s Story has been part of a realistic fiction series for the Exodus Road. Please consider following and supporting their work. Anna’s story has been one of the most meaningful things I’ve written on About Proximity. She touched my heart because I know her story is one that girls all over the world are actually living right now. We can fight for rescue and offer hope. 

Anna’s Story Part 2

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Read Anna’s Story Part 1 here. 

Anna’s Story Part 2 of 4

Through Anna’s drooping eyelids, the bus interior faded in and out. Nightmares disturbed her sleep of the bus never stopping and the bus stopping where it should not.

Valentina shook her shoulder one dawn morning. The landscape had turned to a green she had not known before. A flicker of hope warmed her, but faded just as quickly. They continued into a city. In the glow of the rising sun, grew buildings and neon lights flickering off after illuminating the night. The bus stopped on a narrow, un-swept street. Anna stood up, disoriented. Valentina locked their elbows together.

The two girls who had sat in the back of the bus exited first, and took off running. Three large men followed after them. Anna heard the screams, the sounds of heavy dropping onto pavement.

 

“Be still,” whispered Valentina into her ear. Anna was led into a dim building and up a narrow flight of stairs. A middle aged man pushed her toward a closet-sized room. Anna held onto Valentina with both her hands, frantic. The man shoved her so hard she skidded across the cement floor into the wall. Click and she was locked in: no windows, dark.

Anna quit counting the minutes pass. She thought of the smell of warm bread in the morning. Matushka used come home tired, and yet still brushed her long hair and helped braid it away from her face for the ovens. They would be waiting, her brothers and Matushka. They were waiting on her. She thought of the money never arriving. Her heart constricted and she felt warm tears slide down her cheeks.

 

Hours passed before the door clicked open and a three people entered the room. One walked to the center and pulled on a chain. All that time there had been a bare light bulb and she had laid there in darkness. A small sleeping pallet lay in one corner.

She stood up tall. “I want my passport back. I want to go home.”

The woman laughed bitterly. She moved her fingers against her palm indicating money and pointed at Anna. Then, she moved closer and cupped her hands around Anna’s narrow waist, nodding her head in approval. Anna darted for the open slit of the door. The young man to struck her across the face. Rising up she tried again only to be struck back. This went on until she could not summon strength to stand again.

Lying on her stomach, she could hear voices in the hallway through a small gap between the door and the floor. The words spoken tangled into rhythms and sounds she did not understand. Sometimes she could make out names. The people that came to her space were Meka, Analu and Ipo.

 

She lay crumpled on the pallet and whispered the story of the Firebird and the Grey Wolf into the darkness as she did to her brothers each night.

And Prince Ivan lay dead. His brothers took all that he had; the firebird, the horse and Helen. Then the crow brought the water of death and the water of life to the grey wolf. The grey wolf revived Ivan with the water. He regained all he had lost.

 

Days passed where she refused to rise despite their yelling and the kicking of her body. One day they brought a fourth person into the room with them. She lifted her head and folded herself into Valentina’s arms. Valentina whispered into her ear in Russian, “They will kill you. You can’t run with no passport, no money. They will find you anyway because of the debt. Be a good girl, do what they say. Down the hallway, girls share rooms. Maybe we can. These things I know. I will watch over you Anna, I promise. Stop fighting. I worry for you.”

“I want to go home.”

 

Anna wore high heels, a mini-skirt, red lipstick and eyes rimmed heavy with charcoal. A glass window separated her from the ogling eyes. She would not raise her head, they could not make her. The younger man, Ipo came and lifted up her chin. Her eyes grappled for the floor as she strained against his cold fingers. Every night following would pass the same.

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Her tears dried up. The thought of home made her ache and she let it become dim in her mind. Empty was easier, it took all her strength to keep breathing. Sometimes, she wondered why she cared to keep on, death might be better, only she was too scared. She thought of her River Neva frozen to the bottom layer of silt. There was no more water running underneath the frozen layers, alive. No, everything lay solemn and cold. She quit whispering into the dark.

 

Join the fight against human trafficking at Exodus Road.

Follow the Exodus Road Blog to keep your thoughts in proximity to the need. 

Harvard Student Lea Parker attended Passion 2013. We, God’s people, need to be present.  Read her post here.

Blogger Amy Bosma writes a post here called Break my Heart. 

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