Sunday, November 11, 2012

Raising Consciousness and Respect: Pre-Holiday Cheer Suggestions

This week, three news items were brought to my attention (outside of the election and 'current events') - ironically, all were related.

The first was a release written by Karly Kehres, an intern at at Maupin House Publishers. She wrote the following:
Spencer Toyama and Jon Lewis transcend even classroom-education graphic novels with their recent interactive iBook release of Home of the Brave, a graphic novel aiming to increase the public’s awareness about human trafficking. The story is told from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old girl who is sold into slavery in America.
According to a KHON 2 blog post, nonprofit work preventing the human trafficking epidemic, bullying, and slavery inspired Toyama and Lewis’ creation.
Toyama and Lewis launched the 135-page graphic novel’s Kickstarter page Oct. 4, which has garnered 300 backers and raised $13,203, surpassing its $12,000 fundraising goal with four days remaining. As important as money is to the cause, the authors are equally striving to increase awareness of poverty and human trafficking in America and are also seeking support through social media like Twitter and Facebook.
Whether you donate your money, time, or tweets, Home of the Brave is a unique, crafty way to spread the word about a cause worthy of your money, time, or tweet donations.
Then, I noticed two articles on human trafficking one in  The New York Times  and the other from South Jersey Times.

While not an uplifting subject, maybe its time we talked more about these issues: First raising consciousness about human trafficking and the second - discussing one of its underlining feeders - a LACK of RESPECT for human life.

Raising consciousness (Wikiedia)- is a form of political activism that was popularized by feminists the late 1960's.
It often takes the form of a group of people attempting to focus the attention of a wider group of people on some cause or condition.
Raising consciousness about human trafficking:

According to Alex Smith ("Spreading Awareness Crucial to Human Trafficking Fight in South Jersey" South Jersey Times 11/11/2012) and Tanya Mohn, ("The Travel Industry Takes on Human Trafficking" The New York Times 11/8/2012) people don't realize how prevalent human trafficking is, and national organizations, local law enforcement agencies, community groups, and now even the travel industry are attempting to raise public consciousness by showing how this wide-reaching abhorrent practice is hitting closer and closer to home. The Polaris Project a human trafficking advocacy group estimates that 21-27 million people globally are held as virtual slaves.

The New York Times article relates an anecdote from Petra Hensley, a survivor of trafficking and founder of the Sojka Foundation: older man traveling with a young girl who does not appear to be his daughter and the two carry passports from different countries. Ask the girl where she is going...If she is reluctant to answer, something is not right. It's about questions.  It's about body language.
According to UNOCD (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)
Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity...and involves the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them...for prostitution...forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
Here are a few ways advocacy groups are raising public awareness:
  • Polaris Project - named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad Polaris Project has been raising consciousness and pushing or stronger federal and state laws in the U.S.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation and Amtrak are currently training over 55,000 employees (and soon another 20,000) to identify and counter the problem.
  • Sabre Holdings is sponsoring a "Passport to Freedom" initiative to train 10.000 employees in 60 countries on how to identify and report potential trafficking incidents. 
  • Carlson industries (whose brands include Radisson, Country Ins and Suites and T.G.I. Fridays) says its more than 80,000 hotel employees in 81 countries receive required training ot deter trafficking of children. They are encouraged to look for visual clues like: 
    • signs of abuse or fear among potential victims, 
    • young people made to look older, 
    • clients who pay with cash, 
    • clients who are reluctant to provide identification, or 
    • clients who have no luggage.
  • Sojka Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides help to survivors of human trafficking and words to raise awareness of and prevent Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national toll-free hotline and a program of Polaris Project. They are not a government entity, law enforcement or an immigration authority.  They provide a contact number (1-800-3737-888) as well as information to  report a tip or to connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.

BUT THE ISSUE HERE  is not just human trafficking per-se but what leads to human trafficking... the lack of RESPECT FOR PEOPLE and for HUMAN LIFE.
  • We need to model more respect for people and the human condition. 
  • We must raise our consciousness about others' needs.  
So maybe, we start with Frankenstorm Sandy and have our kids collect clothing to send to relief areas, or ask kids to collect one canned food item from home or from neighbors to send - or maybe its raising money for the homeless and needy (be they storm victims or victims of local crimes or tragedies).

With the Holiday Season upon us, maybe this is the lesson and 'feel' we want for the holidays - that of spreading awareness, assistance, and cheer to those less fortunate than ourselves.

What are your favorite charities?  Please feel free to leave them in your comments.

Below are a few child-centered charities (for more see childhood wishes):
Make A Wish Foundation
Kids Wish Network
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Operation Smile
Children's Charities of America
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Project Night Night - providing sweeter dreams for homeless kids
KaBOOM! Buidling playgrounds, parks, athletic fields in low-income areas
Locks of Love
Save the Children Fund
Ronald McDonald House Charities
New Eyes for the Needy
Sports 4 All Foundation
Toys For Tots
An index of local charities that accept clothing donations
 And here are some of the more known charities you might contact for Hurricane Sandy Relief:
American Red Cross
Best Friends Animal  Society
Kids in Distressed Situations
Save the Children
World Vision
This is just a starting point.  In addition to helping through donations, raise your child's awareness of the value of life and of those less fortunate.  Read and talk about slavery and child abuse. Read and discuss child labor issues.  Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen - raise money for Thanksgiving dinners at a church or community center.  Get involved.

Thank you for your visit.  I realize this is a sad, depressing post, but one that I think is important.  Please feel free to share this with friends, with your kids, or community organizations. 

Also, please feel free to leave you own links and suggestions for raising consciousness and respect for human - and all - life in the comments section.



  1. Certainly some things of which to be aware.

    abcw team

  2. Once about 15yrs ago when we went across the Canadian border and our childen were very young, authorities asked for proof that we were the parents of our youngest son. WE had no documents for anyone at that time except another boy traveling with us whose parents had provided his passport. We had never been asked for papers before on previous trips and were completely unprepared. My husband happened to have a sticky pic of our little one in his wallet. Luckily they accepted that (and probably our demeanor when interacting with him). These days you have to have passports to cross boarders.

  3. you are doing a world of good, with your big heart.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. I've heard about human traffiking before, but never realized how big of a problem this really is! Thanks for bringing to light a very important subject.


  5. A very important article about a sad subject.

    Thank you for visiting my WW: Instagram Images w/Linky @ ImagesByCW

  6. St. Jude Children's Hospital is the charity that we support.

    Running Shoes
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  7. I'm so glad you wrote this article. I have shared it on Google+ and Tweeted it. I noticed a couple of typos, but this one in particular: "According to UNOCD (Inited Noations..."

    Thanks for linking up on Amanda's Books and More!

    Tina - American mom raising 4 kids in South Africa

  8. Human trafficking is such an important issue that people just do not know enough about in America.

  9. Wonderful post--Thank you for sharing! I am visiting and following from the Aloha hop--I'm glad I found your site!
    Angela from A Mama's Corner of the World

  10. It's one of those things that I'm just not even sure how to begin to tackle and you've approached it so well here. thank you.

    stopping by to say "hi". I wanted to personally invite you to join me for An Aloha Affair. It's a gathering and sharing of creative people and I'd love it if you'd come grow with us at Local Sugar Hawaii.


  11. This is a wonderful article & needs to be spread around the world. I watch stories on CNBC & Dateline about these horrific issues in disbelief. My husband & I have our children watch these specials also & have in-depth conversations w/them because it is so real. I think too many people take them for granted & awareness does have to be raised. Great post, thanks for sharing & I will share this article also.
    **Charity_Jesus Life Ministries (feeding the homeless).

  12. Wow, I'm stunned. Thank you for sharing this. Human trafficking is such an abomination.

    Great ideas for teaching and sharing about charity and compassion to my children.

    Thanks for linking up with the GtKY hop! Hope to see you again next week =)

  13. I've seen quite a bit about this on TV lately too. Awareness is the first step to a cure, and hopefully it will help. I cannot even imagine, and sometimes they are so young!!

  14. Human trafficking is such a big issue here in the Philippines.

    My entries:
    Moms... Check nyo

  15. Meryl, I am always wow-ed by your posts! Thank you for consistently linking up with Makes My Monday an sharing your vast knowledge so generously! :)

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