Monthly Archives: February 2010

Freedom Stones

I heard Dr. Yunus the Founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the man who first introduced the idea of Micro Lending to the world’s poor at Syracuse University this week.  His lecture was over an hour and he said many things that were compelling and thought provoking.  But the one thing that has been ringing in my ears all week was his reply to a question that was asked at the end of the evening.  A student asked, “what can I do to help the poor?”  And Dr. Yunus provided a realistic response…

Start small.  Right in your own neighborhood.  Help 5 people.  Just 5 people.

Dr. Yunus had been explaining his idea of Social Business.  A business that exists not to increase profit margins for the owners but instead to alleviate a social problem.   (poverty, health care, environmental issues, etc.)  You can read a more detailed explanation here.

On the drive home with two friends there were wheels turning and not just the wheels on the car I was driving.  What social business ideas come to your mind?  Who are your 5 people?  Where do I start in my neighborhood or community?  The windows were steaming up!  The next morning I already had an email from one of them detailing her late night conversation with her husband and an idea that just might come to fruition sooner than any of us would have imagined.

For me, I went to Freedom Stones.  It was a small step that I could take the very next morning.  Freedom Stones was founded by Leah Knippel a few years ago to combat human trafficking through income generation projects for women that have been trafficked.  Her online sales began less than 2 weeks ago and I’d been holding off on ordering something.

One of the major underlying causes of human trafficking is poverty.  Since 2005, Founder Leah Knippel has been fighting human trafficking through income generation projects aimed at not only providing financially for vulnerable women and their children, but also at empowering women through holistic training and skills development.  Freedom Stones (incorporated in 2009) continues Leah’s original vision that vulnerable families might have opportunity to earn individual incomes while also being given the tools to build stronger thriving communities in areas where poverty continues a cycle of slavery, oppression and injustice.      . . . read the rest of the story here.

I didn’t start a Social Business this week.  But I did place an order and support one.  You can too!  (still working on my list of 5 people)



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Let Your Voice Be Heard

I was 14 years old wearing my handmade polka dot swiss dress and walking up the steps to our State Capitol building in Oklahoma City.  (yes, the only one in the USA with a working oil well on the front lawn)  I had received a coveted position as a House Page for 5 days.  At the time that translated to a week off of school and not much more.  My memories of that week now consist of the friendships forged with the other Pages, getting ice cream bars for the representatives while they were in the House Chamber, lots of ice cream bars, and the feeling that government was slow and not really relevant to life outside the Oklahoma Capitol oil well.

I’d like to invite you to join me in making it relevant.  I’ll be traveling to Washington DC on March 6 and I’ll have the opportunity to lobby for the passage of HR 2737 The Child Compact Act which addresses the issue of modern day slavery and human trafficking.

This legislation would help eradicate the exploitation of children for labor and commercial sex in developing countries by offering additional resources for law enforcement, victim relief and deterrence through apprehension and prosecution of traffickers.

I would like to take a suitcase full of letters and emails from you stating your support of this bill.  My one voice counts, but a multitude of voices will echo long and loud.  Here’s how to join me:

  1. Copy the letter below
  2. Paste it into an email to
  3. Add your name and address to the bottom of the letter and send
  4. Let your friends know too

The $25 fee for an extra checked bag to carry all your emails would be money well spent.  I’ll be looking for your emails this week.

Please support the Child Protection Compact Act (HR 2737)

Dear Member of Congress:

I write to express support for the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009.

This legislation would help eradicate the exploitation of children for labor and commercial sex in developing countries by offering additional resources for law enforcement, victim relief and deterrence through apprehension and prosecution of traffickers.

UNICEF estimates that nearly two million children worldwide are exploited each year through commercial sex trade, and millions more are at risk in dangerous industries. These crimes are not the inevitable consequence of poverty. Rather, they indicate the failure of justice systems in developing countries to take the profit out of slavery by successfully investigating, prosecuting and convicting those who traffic in human beings.

The Child Protection Compact Act has been endorsed by International Justice Mission, World Vision, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Not for Sale, the SOLD Project, Polaris, Equality Now and Sojourners.

I urge you to become a sponsor of this important and innovative legislation, and help build public justice systems that protect the poor and vulnerable.


[Your Name][Your Address][City, State ZIP]

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Why I love to read the newspaper – part 3

A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down – Mary Poppins

The paper today may have brought the news of budget cuts, automobile recalls, rising unemployment rates but it also offered up a spoon full of sugar to help all that bad news go down . . .

They’re giving away FREE PRETZELS at Auntie Ann’s on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the ShoppingTown Mall. 10am to 3pm.  (cinnamon or original)


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Rescued off the Volta

Obsessed.  You might say I’ve been obsessed the past week with posts about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.  And you’d be right.  It has captured my interest and my heart.  I mentioned last week that I had seen a glimpse of this first hand.

Last November I spent a week in Ghana and traveled to Kete Krachi on Lake Volta to meet George Achibra Jr.  George spends hours on Lake Volta searching for children trafficked into the fishing industry, speaking with the fishing boat masters and negotiating for the release of a child.  It is a long process that takes days, weeks and months.  And once a child is rescued the work has only just begun.  They are transferred to one of the two safe houses funded by Touch a Life.  They too are obsessed.  And that obsession has led to rescue.

Seven young children were rescued off Lake Volta in Ghana last week through the work of Touch a Life,  and George Achibra Jr.  That is just more fuel for the fire!

You can read more at the following links:

Touch a Life

Tony Fratto’s eyewitness account

Tony’s pictures

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The idea of an online “garage sale” was appealing to me.  That’s why I began to use Craigslist over the past few years to either buy or sell items.  The first few times I opened the site I cringed at the “erotic” section, since changed to an “adult” category.  I was only looking for a rabbit cage or a trundle bed frame.   I’ll just  look the other way and steer clear of those sections, that would suffice.  Yesterday I learned that just steering clear was not enough for me.  I had another option and a good reason to use it.

I found out through Polaris Project and my new friend Laura that women who have been trafficked to the US for the sex industry many times find themselves pimped through Craigslist’s adult category.  Not every person listed in the adult services is a woman that has been trafficked into the sex industry, but this is one of the advertising mediums used by those who are oppressing them.

Craigslist is free to list most items or services.  It didn’t cost anything when I listed a dog house for sale. And it was free to find a chair for sale or help my daughter find an apartment.  I never  stopped to think about how they were making money.  Craiglist charges a fee for employment ads.  And Craigslist charges  for adult services listings or therapeutic services.  $10 per ad. Polaris Project ran the numbers for the last quarter of 2009 on the adult services ads:

September       13,491
October            9,231
November        13,693
December        12,533

. . . if we assumed a conservative average of 10,000 unique Adult Services ads per day nationwide, that’s around 3,650,000 ads in a single year! . . .So, it’s $10 dollars per ad for the conservatively estimated 3,650,000 Adult Services ads per year nationwide on Craigslist.  I hope you do the math.       (read the entire post here)

My conclusion yesterday, though I have found Craigslist to be convenient and helpful, I can no longer participate.  I’ve removed Craigslist from my bookmarks and I won’t list another item with them or purchase anything from their site.  Can’t do it.  This is my next small step in the demise of slavery and human trafficking in the sex industry.

But the good news – there’s a replacement.

And better yet they don’t list any adult services.  For all their terms of use, go here.

Do they have as many listings as Craigslist when I’m looking for a bargain?  No, not yet.  But we can change that.  I’m going to go rummage around right now and list something.  How about you?

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The North Star – a beacon of hope

The north star, Polaris, was instrumental in guiding slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad and today the Polaris Project is doing the same.  Polaris Project is one of the largest anti trafficking organizations in the United States working towards “a world without slavery”.  I stumbled across Polaris Project as my interest and knowledge of the stark realities of modern-day slavery and human trafficking has increased.

The statics are numbing

– 12 million people worldwide are in bondage for sexual exploitation or forced labor.  Some estimates are as high as 27 million.

– modern-day slavery is the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world –  estimated at 32 billion dollars annually.

– there are and estimated 200,000 American children at high risk for trafficking into the sex industry.

While I sit in my house, at my computer, in a quiet suburban neighborhood those statistics seem more like fiction than fact.  But as I’ve read, researched and seen – it is very real.  I have only seen a small glimpse but it was enough to get me moving.  It is an “unfavorable condition of life” that in some small way, I want to contribute to its demise.

My small step of activism today – vote for Katherine Chon, the founder of Polaris Project, for the “People’s Voice” Award.  The winner’s organization will receive $50,000.

Just 2 clicks, 1 vote, a small step – but one I will take today to help provide a beacon of hope to modern-day slaves.  You can too.  Vote here.


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My daughter said I was becoming “quite the activist” lately.  I hadn’t intend to become an activist.  I wasn’t even sure I liked the sound of it.  So I looked it up.

ac-tiv-ist [ak – tuh – vist] – noun   an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, esp. a political or social cause.

And I think she’s right.  In less than a month I’ll be at the World Vision Women’s Conference in Washington DC where I will advocate, vigorously advocate, I might add, according to the definition, for some specific social causes.   To be honest, I didn’t like the sound of  “social cause”.  Seemed a little too radical.  Until I looked it up.
so-cial [soh – shuh l]  cause [kawz]   of or pertaining to the life, welfare and relations of human beings in a community;  activities designed to alleviate certain unfavorable conditions of life in a community, esp. among the poor.

That is exactly what I’m going to do.  And I like the sound of it.
This week I’d like to give you a glimpse into the social causes that have invaded my life and heart over the past few years.  By the end of the week maybe you’ll find yourself to be an activist too.


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