a faded ‘X’
Yesterday was the End It Movement’s “Shine a Light on Slavery” day. Thousands of us around the country drew red X’s on our hands to tell the world we are in it to end it. It was very encouraging to see all the red X’s on hands, cars, and on social media. I’ve been fighting this fight for awhile now, and the increase in awareness even over the last few months is very heartening. My passion for the cause is in overdrive as I’ve seen so many friends increase their awareness and express their desire to change the world for those in captivity.
But now what?
You’ve got the red X, you are understanding the issue. Your heart feels heavy for the 27 million. It’s incredible that you raised your awareness and shared the info with your friends. But what are you going to do now? Is it over? What’s next? The x is probably starting to fade, it’s lines are blurred. Does your part end when the X disappears? Or is there something more?
This is where many of us stop with our activism. We learn, we share, we post, then we move on. I’ve done it myself on numerous occasions. I first learned about human trafficking six years ago. SIX years ago! It took me several more years to really begin to make a change in my lifestyle. I gave lip service to the cause but didn’t serve nearly as much as I should have. It’s only been a couple years I’ve been more actively involved, and only a year since I dove in headfirst and have been really fighting for freedom.
I spend a good bit of time now talking to people who want to change the world, who want to make a difference. Many times I hear “Well, after I graduate”, or “I’m just so busy”, or “I don’t have the experience, education, networks, or skills or (insert reason)”. Sometimes the answer is “Well, I’m just a _______________, I can’t possibly have anything to contribute”
Well, wonderful readers, friends, fellow world changers, I’m here to tell you that you can make a difference. There are dozens of things you can do to fight for freedom. Your efforts to “End it” don’t have to stop with awareness. Here are a few ways you can get involved (disclaimer: most of these are Georgia based organizations)
1. Love to write? Send your elected officials emails, telling them that you care about human trafficking and that you hope they make it a priority the next session. Check out my post here on lobbying 101. Or you could write a blog about justice. Or, how about writing encouraging notes to women and girls in the Wellspring Living program for girls rescued from human trafficking? Check out the Write to Restore campaign here.
2. Have a few bucks? Most of us probably don’t feel like we have a lot of money, but a little bit goes a long way. Not for Sale right now is working to fully fund their program in Amsterdam. They use social enterprise as a way to help rescue women out of trafficking. Or, find a cause and donate a small amount to them. Every little bit counts.
3. Have a little bit of time? I’d love for you to join us at Not for Sale Georgia for our poster campaign. We go out every month, distributing posters to local businesses that list the national human trafficking hotline with Polaris Project. Or, you could work towards prevention. We need strong role models for children, especially children at risk. Teens today need to understand the risk of human trafficking, and they need to know they have value. Volunteer at a local shelter, school, or even Big Brothers Big Sisters. You could aid in prevention by being a friend to a child in need.
4. Love hanging out with people? My friends at Tapestri have many clients who just want to hang out with another person to practice their English. They want to learn English and job skills, they just need someone to help them practice. Or, sign up to work with Out of Darkness or Wellspring Living to spend time with the girls and women in their programs. My friend Kristi just posted a great blog about her day hanging out with a woman at Solomon House through Out of Darkness.
5. Love hosting people? One of my favorite platforms for raising awareness is through a Swap Party. Invite your friends, have them bring their unwanted clothes to ‘swap’ with other attendees. Then, donate all leftover clothes to a Wellspring Treasures store in your area. You’ll be contributing to Wellspring’s programs. Or, have your friends over and screen a movie about Human Trafficking. There are dozens of options to choose from. Then, have a discussion about ways you and your friends can take action. If you want a speaker from a local organization, let me know! I’m happy to get you in touch with someone (and will even come myself if you’d like!)
6. Love a challenge? My friends at Out of Darkness have some of the most diverse opportunities to serve. Some roles involve participating in rescues and outreach to women who are potentially being trafficked. Check out their website, but if you want to get really involved they offer some incredible ways to serve. Out of Darkness has great opportunities for both men and women too, which is awesome.
7. Like to shop? One simple way to change the world for trafficking victims is to change the way you shop. Check out how many slaves work for you through Slavery Footprint, then research your favorite companies to see what they are doing to end slavery in their supply chain. You can do this through Free2Work, or through the guide I contributed to, Purchase with Purpose. Also, if you enjoy couponing or finding deals, Wellspring Living, Out of Darkness, and Tapestri all usually have needs for hygiene products and other supplies for survivors. Check out their respective websites to see if you could help with that.
So your X is fading, the social media hype is dying down, and people may start moving on to the next thing. Don’t be discouraged or defeated, the work is still there. You can change the world, just take that next step. And if you need more encouragement, email me at emilylaney85(at)gmail(dot)com. I’d love to chat more and help you get connected.
A faded X doesn’t mean it’s over, it’s just beginning.