Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
As we remember those who were once enslaved, we are also reminded of our mission to serve those still enslaved and fight for the abolition of the slavery of children. Thank you for joining the fight.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
An autistic child in Thailand, frightened because it was his first day at school, crawled out of a three story window and ended up stuck out on the ledge, refusing to come back in. Teachers and authorities tried to coax the little boy to come back inside, but to no avail.
At one point the boy’s mother remarked that the little guy LOVED super-heroes. This little piece of knowledge prompted a fireman to run back to the firehouse where he kept a Spider-Man costume in his locker. (Normally used to liven up fire drills). He ran back to the scene dressed as Spider-Man!
And as the BBC reports; “The sight of Mr.Yoosabai (the fireman) dressed as Spider-Man and holding a glass of juice for him, brought a big smile to the boy's face, and he promptly threw himself into the arms of his "superhero", police said.”
Oh, for a world filled with ordinary super-heroes!!!
Now go ahead and dust off that cape.
Here’s a link to the story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7961208.stm
Friday, March 20, 2009
On of my favorite artists, a French photographer who goes by JR, has recently landed in Cambodia. JR is well known for his large scale black and white portraits that he pointedly plasters around a given city, town, or community. He is rarely vocal about his portraits, and he rarely explains the projects that he is working on. One quote I found, was from a similar project he did in France, ""The photos have a lot of messages," JR said. "But the main one is: 'Look at me, I exist, I'm larger than life.'" Seeing his latest work from Cambodia gave me chills. Cambodia has an unfortunate notoriety for trafficking and the exploitation of women... and we do a lot of prevention work there. The faces of these women in the portraits feels so telling of their fight. Scorn and sadness. Maybe I'm just projecting because of the work that I do. Maybe not. Maybe that is the point of art like this... striking a nerve of passion. Art can be so filled with controversy, not even including the controversy that he is a street artist.
My question is, does this type of art play a part in the abolition fight, or is it a clanging cymbal?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Patrick is perhaps one of the most famous survivors of child trafficking. When he was only 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders from his home in Britain and brought to Ireland as a slave. He spent 6 years there in slavery, before escaping (by walking over 200 miles to the Irish coast) and returning to Britain on a ship.
After returning home he had a recurring dream that called him back to Ireland. A man Patrick knew in Ireland, appeared to him in this dream, holding letters, one of which he handed to Patrick. The letter was entitled "The Voice of the Irish." Upon reading just the title, he heard a multitude of voices crying out to him: "Holy boy, we beg you to come and walk among us once more." And you know the rest of the story.
Not surprisingly, Patrick’s own experience in captivity left him with an intense hatred of slavery, and he would later become one of the first human beings in history to speak out unequivocally against it.
Thomas Cahill in his book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization” writes; “The papacy did not condemn slavery as immoral until the end of the 19th century, but here is Patrick in the fifth century seeing it for what it is. I think that shows enormous insight and courage and a tremendous 'fellow feeling'—the ability to suffer with other people and to understand what other people's suffering is like.”
So…what if we did more than just lift a pint to honor the life and work of Saint Patrick? What if we also embraced his understanding of the intrinsic value and great worth of every human being, especially the broken and excluded. What if we had the same tenacity to bring about change? What if we went way beyond dressing in green and downing a Guinness, and decided to not only “understand what other people's suffering is like”, but to attempt to end that suffering as well?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
A few weeks ago I went to see the movie Taken. I had no idea that the movie dealt with human trafficking and sex slavery of children. I went because it was a friend’s birthday and she wanted to see “a mindless thriller” (she didn’t know what it was about either). The premise of the movie is that a young 17 year old American girl travels with a friend to Europe. After arriving they are charmed by a man who offers to share a cab with them thereby learning the location of their flat. A few hours later several men break into the flat and kidnap the girls into a sex slavery ring. Meanwhile her American father who was some kind of government agent/spy learns of this and flies over to rescue his daughter discovering this human trafficking ring.
I will admit sitting in the theatre watching a man take down and even torture traffickers was personally restorative, for about 4 minutes (please know that I do not advocate violence in any way). After that, all of the complications of this issue crowded my brain. I recalled a conversation that took place in Cambodia, when a wise woman challenged us saying “you know what is wrong with you Americans?” “You react, you don’t think.” Those words still stay with us. I do have those cowboy fantasies sometimes. I think how great it would be to knock down brothel doors, kick some a** and carry children out. But that emotionally based reaction would cause several ramifications that would actually harm more children in the future and damage the furthering of abolition. That is why Love146 values collaboration among all who are thoughtfully and thoroughly combating child sex slavery. All of us working together with purpose will see abolition realized.
I thought there were many flaws with this movie but there was one that left me leaving the theatre in rage. I felt they cheapened the lives of the children and women who face this each day as a reality by making it a brainless Hollywood drama. I won’t go into detail (this blog is already long) but I wanted to pose a question. The day after seeing the movie, I came into the office and started talking to some of my co-workers about it. One co-worker in particular had a completely different take. He viewed any coverage of human trafficking as a good thing, raising the level of conscience about the issue with the general public. We did in fact have someone contact us who found Love146 through internet research after seeing the film. I go back and forth. Is it good that to Hollywood this has become a “mainstream” issue? Is bringing it to the public (no matter how you do it) a good thing? Will it raise more awareness? I still don’t feel that it is honoring to women and children who are living as slaves. I still feel it perpetuates a destructive cowboy mentality. Do we have to dumb things down? Maybe we do.
This film’s budget was $45,000,000.00 its gross revenue was $61,144,470.00 – not everything is about money. Awareness can lead to Action, which will lead to Abolition. If this film brings that closer, than money is not an issue. I do not live in a dream world (well, sometimes I do), but I do wonder why it appears to be easier to raise/earn funds for a 2 hour film than to help end child sex slavery and exploitation.
I think of this spring when I will visit safehomes. Looking at these girls who have been through torture and are now growing, healthy and loved I will think of this film and be ashamed that one day they might see it. But who am I to judge? One of the last scenes of the film is the father embracing his little girl as she sobs “you came for me.” Isn’t that what these little girls were wishing for night after night? Someone who would come for them. I just think if we all work together we might be able do a better job and bring lasting change.
So, is this sort of entertainment trash or do we use it as a tool?
Still angry but hopeful,