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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Power of Piggy Banks & Road Trips


All over the nation ordinary people are rallying together to do extraordinary things that are leading the way towards ending child sex slavery & exploitation. People are throwing benefit shows, creating art, writing letters and meeting together to move with us in this journey to abolition. Many people are starting taskforces in their area to be a voice for Love146 and the youth in their own communities.

I have had the privilege of meeting with taskforces across the nation. These small groups of people that are working creatively to raise the banner of freedom for children have inspired me. They think outside the box and are willing to work hard. One of my favorite groups is this funky little teen taskforce in NY. We lovingly refer to them as the Long Island Teen Taskforce. They have baked cookies, hosted bowl-a-thons, and even dyed students’ hair bright blue in their high school to raise money and awareness about Love146. I love getting updates about what they will do next. Their fearless leaders are two teachers that have a heart for kids and abolition, Ed & Kristi.

With banners, buttons, the story of 146 to share and a good GPS system

Ed and Kristi hit the road and spent their last week of summer traveling around the North East spreading the word about Love146. From New Hampshire to Ohio, they helped to set up more teen taskforces and encouraged everyone they met to get involved with ending slavery! TV stations, newspapers, youth groups, high schools and churches welcomed them and joined this movement of abolition.

Among those that were encouraged was a little 7-year-old girl who walked up to Kristi, bought a Love146 patch and literally emptied out her piggy bank into the donations jar. She looked up at Kristi as she poured out her savings with a smile and said “Saving little kids like me.”

What a beautiful picture!

Today I’m wondering what our world would look like if we all emptied our piggy banks to bring hope, life and freedom to others. What would it look like if we, like Ed & Kristi, poured out our vacation time to work towards sharing the story of the broken?

Ed & Kristi, thanks for inspiring us. Keep up the good work!

To love, road-trips, piggy banks and abolition!


Kellen

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Labor of Love

"Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today marks the end of an ambitious labor of love and a work of staggering beauty by an amazing, but little known photographer. After hearing the story of a young girl known only by the number 146, photographer Jennifer Hamilton set out to remember and honor her. She took a photo every day for 146 days, to represent not only the one girl sitting behind a glass window in a brothel, but the thousands like her who are being sold and exploited daily.

I have been deeply moved not only by Jennifer's photography, but even more so by her commitment to add her creative voice to the collective shout on behalf of the innocent and vulnerable. And even more stunning...Jennifer is 14 years old and in the 8th grade.

Jennifer writes that the story of Love146, "inspired a procrastinating, laid-back teenaged girl to get up and do something about it. Just think of what could be done, if just a few more people... decided to do something about this. This is a war going on, a fight for freedom. We must be their voice, because for the moment they are silenced. But they don't have to be."

She continues; "This is my last day, but I'll always be an advocate of love146 through my photography. I just can't believe it's been 146 days. I've been saving this idea for the very last day."

Thank you Jennifer for amplifying the voices of your sisters and brothers still in "chains"!

All photos by Jennifer Hamilton


To view Jennifer's entire "146 Days of Love" project click HERE.


To see the story of 146 click HERE.


-Rob
President
Love146
Follow me on Twitter
HERE.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Local Event

For all you Nutmeggers out there:

























A benefit for Love146
John Gorka Live at the New England Brewing Company!
Friday, August 21 7pm 7 Selden St. Woodbridge, CT 06525 $25 per ticket (comes with samples of Brewer's selection) For reservations call: 203.605.7923

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Practice What You Preach

As many of you know, we have launched the Car Wash Across America this summer. We wanted to create an easy way to raise some money, but also create opportunities to tell the story of 146 across America.

In our office, we can get caught up in the day to day necessities of running a non-profit. We seem to be always running to keep up with what is going on. But the one thing that we always try to remember to do, is to stop and tell the story. It reminds us... it grounds us.

This past weekend we did our own car wash/bake sale (put together by our more than wonderful interns). We had a lot of fun. We raised about $350 and had more leftover baked goods than are healthy to consume. But we got to tell her story... in our own town. And it was really nice to remember what we are about... and to practice what we preach.







Thanks to everyone who helped out, to everyone who is doing their own car wash, and to everyone telling her story.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flying

"For a long time, she flew only when she thought no one else was watching."- Brian Andreas

Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2005




Ever since my oldest daughter was little, she wanted to move to New York City when she grew up. She also wanted to be a writer. This past Spring she graduated from University with a degree in Creative Writing. Then last night, I dropped her off at her first apartment in NYC.


If you could only see her face as she stood in her apartment looking out on the lights of the city. I’m not sure if her sparkling eyes were reflecting those lights, or if they were revealing the joy of dreams fought hard for… finally coming true. I cannot describe to you the pride and joy I felt as I saw her standing there. My little girl has left the nest and is trying out her wings.


As I left the apartment building, I was suddenly struck with fear. What will happen when the winds and the storms come? Are her wings strong enough? Is she REALLY ready? I found myself wanting to secretly get an apartment in the same building so I could be nearby, just in case if she ever needed me. This “bird leaving the nest” thing is turning out to be a mixed bag, full of joy, pride, risk, fear, unknowns, etc.


We at Love146 had a couple of birds leave the nest this past week. And all of the same feelings are there. Two of our girls were ready to leave the safehome and continue the process of reintegration back into a community. They have good jobs, a good support system, and will be continuing their education. They are pursuing their dreams and they are beyond excited! To say we are proud would be an understatement. The courage, tenacity and resiliency of our girls is inspiring and humbling to say the least. They have been active participants in their own recovery.


But, in all honesty, I wrestle with the same concerns as I do with my daughter. What will happen when the winds and the storms come? Are their wings strong enough? Are they REALLY ready?


Then I think about what they have come from and where they are now. Our Director of Aftercare, Dr. Velazco said this yesterday; “We took them from the community, hurt, broken. Now we give them back to the community, healed, strong, and wanting to change the community. One has concrete plans of creating a foundation for girls like her. The other one is determined to be a social worker and counsel families and children. The girls are re-writing our mission in aftercare. We are not only restoring survivors .Restored children are becoming restorers of a broken world."


So with that, my fears are relieved. The transformation in our girls is stunning. So much so, that if you look in their eyes, you will see a sparkle there. Eyes that once revealed unbearable pain and brokenness, now reveal the joy of dreams fought hard for… finally coming true. I realize in a moment…our girls are already flying. And have been for a long time. I have so much to learn.



-Rob

Follow me on Twitter HERE.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For the Love of Lemonade


On Sunday, the Love146 Taskforce
at the Blue Route Vineyard Church in PA rolled up their sleeves and squeezed, squeezed, squeezed the love out of lemons for yummy lemonade! Their lemonade stand raised $75.

Kudos to Kate and Sue and everyone who helped to raise awareness and funds so sweetly! And a special thanks to Sammy, Ben, Joseph, Emma, and the rest of the kids who have already chosen to use their energy to be a voice for the children we serve.







Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A good kind of tension?


In our office as in most offices tension will come up. We’ve had many team discussions on what “good” tension and what “unhealthy” tension is. For the U.S. Love146 office we have defined good tension as tension that is brought up by work issues. So even if we disagree on different methods, programs, approaches etc. the tension exists because we think certain things will end child sex slavery and exploitation more effectively than others. An unhealthy tension comes if things get personal (like when Ben attacks my exquisite taste in music:). I held off writing this blog for a few days because I thought it could create tension. But I hope this tension is the good kind.

For a couple of years I have carried The Better World Shopping Guide with me. The guide is a pocket-sized book that can help change the world. It is a comprehensive guide for socially and environmentally responsible consumers. The guide “grades” companies on Human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice. I was flipping through the book again a few nights ago and I noticed several companies that have been involved in child slavery lawsuits or have documented exploitation of child labor. A couple of examples:


Chocolate:

Nestle Grade – F Involved in child slavery lawsuit


Alternatives: Cadbury, Grade – B- Newman’s own, Grade – B+ Green & Black, Grade – A- Equal Exchange, Grade – A+




Supermarkets:

Walmart Grade – F Documented exploitation of child labor


Alternatives: Target, Grade – C- Shaws, Grade – C Albertsons, Grade – C Stop N Shop, Grade – C Trader Joes, Grade – A- Whole Foods/Wild Oats – A



Ice Cream:

Haagen Daz (Nestle)
Grade – F Involved in child slavery lawsuit


Alternatives: Breyers, Grade – C+ Starbucks, Grade – B Ben & Jerry’s, Grade – A Stoneyfield Farm, Grade – A


The ice cream is why I brought out the book the other night. After my husband and I enjoyed a purely delicious bite of ice cream on a steamy summer night, I decided to look it up in the book. The kind we were eating (as well as my husband’s favorite)…yep, Haagan Daz. Can anyone say Cherry Garcia here we come? Ending child sex slavery and exploitation will take a while but the good news is that we can actually make a difference by decisions such as which ice cream we buy. That is really amazing! We have so much power.

Want more info?
www.betterworldshopper.com You can order a book from their website ($10, free shipping) or if you have a fancy phone you can buy their app which is awesome.



Tense anyone? What do you think?

Desirea