By Matt Friedman
Stepping Up: What Can YOU Do to Help Address Modern Slavery?
During many of our presentations, people often ask the question “What can I do to help address the problem. In response to this, I often make the statement: “If every one of us did at least one thing—just one—this would add up to something great.”
I use the example of the sand dunes I have seen in Cape Cod. These beautiful, massive, natural structures, which seem to rise as high as the pyramids, are made up of millions of tiny pieces of sand. Something great can grow from a massive accumulation of many small things. If each of us offered at least one thing toward the solution, a monumental outcome could result. Thus, if 10 million people did one thing each, this represents 10 million steps forward.
A simple list of activities that require little effort include:
· Learn and Share: Continue to learn about today’s slavery and help educate your friends and family. Consult the Internet for up-to-date information on this topic. The following tools are valuable: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked in, What’s Up, etc. Every person reached potentially adds another soldier to the fight. For our modern-day abolitionist movement to take hold, raising awareness must be a high priority. Helping to get the word out is a heroic activity.
· Sponsor an Event: Many schools, corporations, faith-based groups, and clubs have stepped up to create awareness. You can invite a speaker for a presentation or a panel discussion. You can find willing speakers knowledgeable on this topic. I sometimes give presentations in private homes. A variety show or musical event can also be organized. Such innovative approaches not only foster awareness, but uniquely motivate people and raise money for the cause.
· Show a Film: There are excellent, compelling films concerning human trafficking/slavery. Most can be watched online for no cost. Consider showing one of these films to your company, school, church, club, or within another community event. The advantage is that people can see exploitation at its worst in the setting where it occurs. This is a highly effective way to educate. Some films to consider include: Not my Life, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, and The Day My God Died.
· Become a Responsible Consumer: Before buying a name brand item, go online to see if the company has a policy statement about human slavery. If so, send a quick email to congratulate them. If not, send an email request that they post such a statement. These interactions should be positive. A company under attack often shuts down. Encouragement can open up a company and get them to take the steps needed.
· Fundraising: Raising money for the cause ranks as necessary heroism. Even small amounts to the right organization can make a tremendous difference in the life of a trafficked person. Example: it costs between US$2 and US$3 a day to support a deeply traumatized person at a shelter in Cambodia. Funds can be raised through an endurance event, a film showing, a silent auction, and more. Many organizations, both at home and abroad, fight slavery. Before contributing money, contact the organization and ask them to explain its use. Become assured that your money will do what you intend. Check to see if any criticism has been registered against them.
· Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to contribute. You can work at a local NGO office or from home. You might carry out internet searches to collect information for one of the responder groups. To identify an organization, go online and review options. You can find a group which would appreciate your skills and efforts.
Interested individuals have become involved in various ways:
· A nine-year-old girl raised US$15,000 selling lemonade to help victims of human slavery.
· A college student regularly went to retail stores and politely asked the managers how they ensured the products they sold were slave-free. Eventually, they all offered positive answers. Their main offices took note.
· A church set up a sweat-shop challenge, asking those who participated to put nuts on and off bolts from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. (ten consecutive hours) without food, water, or sleep. The event helped participants experience what slaves often endure.
· A housewife wrote letters to newspapers, magazines, and television stations to encourage them to publicize human trafficking and slavery issues. They did.
· A church did a song-writing contest entitled the “Battle of the Bands” to create awareness among music lovers.
· A mother of three convinced her library to make books available on this subject.
· A college student set up a film festival that reached 5,000 students.
· A father of three got the motels in his city to put the anti-trafficking hotline number in every office.
· A student group sent letters to their state lawmakers asking them to focus on this issue.
· A fifth-grade class encouraged their local school board to partner with students to include the issue of modern-day slavery in their curriculum.
· A church group held an all-night prayer session concerning slavery and its victims.
We must all use our individual talents to fight slavery. Artists can create a human slavery project for public display. Filmmakers can create movies on modern-day slavery. Writers must write about the issue. Whatever you do, do it in the direction of freedom. Raise your voice if you are a teacher, social worker, doctor, lawyer, or anyone else. It will add up and make a difference.