Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Important New Year's Resolution

Christmas is just a few days away and with all the turmoil in the world, it couldn't be a better time than to celebrate the true reason for the season--Jesus Christ. His light shines brightest in the darkness and He gave up all the glories in heaven to come and be with us--Emmanuel. His gifts pour out in the midst of pain and difficult circumstances--peace, joy, comfort, and love. We can resolve to reflect that light and those gifts as we participate in all our holiday celebrations.
 
A good New Year's resolution to put in place is to learn more about human trafficking and the ways we can help prevent this travesty. So why am I telling you about that now, before Christmas? Because it's taking place right in our own neighborhoods, as well as around the world and children especially need our help. Many of them will spend this Christmas in bondage. In the midst of the holidays, we can enter their dark world and consider ways we might contribute to their well-being.

And, it takes so little effort to make a BIG difference. Each person that becomes more aware can tell others and that may prevent someone from being forced into modern-day slavery or could help a victim escape. So while you're thinking about what changes you want to make in the New Year, consider being involved in the abolitionist effort.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention month. On January 25th, Cottonwood Church, 4505 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, CA will bring the community together by hosting "Free Them,"  a human trafficking awareness "art event with a cause." Many churches and nonprofits will be promoting anti-human trafficking efforts. KBRT 740 am radio has partnered with them to spotlight the free event that will feature food, dance, musicians, poets, artists and more. For more information, or if you're interested in promoting this to your church, email ocfreethem@gmail.com/.  A video announcement and flyers that can be passed out are available.

Other ways to learn more about anti-trafficking include watching a DVD, reading a book, or attending a conference. In addition, everyone reading this blog should put the National Trafficking Hotline number in your cell phone right now--1-888-3737-888. It operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  If you suspect you've encountered a trafficking situation, get all the details you can and call to report it. They'll take it from there, no matter where you're located.

Please also consider subscribing to this blog, so you'll continue to grow in your awareness of abolitionist efforts in So. California throughout 2013. Then, you can pass on what you've learned. And, that will bring some light into the darkness, giving us all the more reason to rejoice!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Transform LA!



 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Good Gifts

Some of the people on my Christmas shopping list are almost impossible to buy for. They seem to have everything, and when I ask for ideas they say they don't need anything. But gift-giving is a major tradition in my family, so that leaves me trying to figure out what might make a meaningful gift.

This year I found some fabulous ideas. They're not only fun to receive, but have an a not-so-obvious component--they provide jobs for young women who are either survivors of modern-day slavery or who are at risk for being trafficked. Nonprofits right here in So. CA offer amazing goods made in Uganda, India, and Thailand among other places. 

International Princess Project advocates for women enslaved by prostitution in India, restores their broken lives, and empowers them to live free. One way they accomplish these goals is by selling PUNJAMMIES™.  These pajama pants are so cute, cool, and comfortable that they make a great gift for any woman. How much better that they add to the conversation about modern-day slavery. And, the gift's recipient will be delighted to find out that her present provided dignity for the former trafficking victim who made it. 

31 Bits also makes for gorgeous gift-giving. This nonprofit benefits women in Uganda, many of whom were once enslaved by the Lord's Resistance Army. 31 Bits not only gives these women jobs making paper beads that turn into beautiful high-fashion jewelry, but also provides life-skills training that changes lives forever. I wore one of their necklaces yesterday to lunch and when our server admired it, I was able to tell her of its purpose. This jewelry keeps on giving as it raises awareness.

Heavenly Treasures operates a retail store that sells quality handicrafts--bags, scarves, bowls, paper, kitchen items and more--from around the world. The proceeds benefit trafficking survivors in a variety of ways.

Other gift-giving ideas might include stocking stuffers that make people think beyond themselves. A free-trade chocolate bar from Trader Joe's or free-trade coffee can heighten awareness. So can a book or DVD on trafficking. 

Any other ideas?