If you're like me and around some kind of information device at all, this past two weeks has been hard for us humans. Katrina 2.0 is happening in Louisiana; bombings in Aleppo haven't stopped in five years; Yemen is probably less heard about but has to be one of the most war ridden countries.
I'm thankful for the journalists and reporters working daily to keep us informed.
But with knowledge comes responsibility, and if you're like me, we can easily feel helpless in this broken world. Please tell me how you cope with this, if you have ideas, share it away.
The other day my daughter (3 years old), asked me to read her "The perfect little Piglet". She rarely sat down through it, but this time she did. I love reading to my children, but I learned also from these books. Piglet (Pooh's friend, from Winnie the Pooh who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood created by AA Milne for his boy Christopher Robin and his imaginary friends), felt so small and useless because he couldn't ran fast enough or couldn't reach the higher shelf for tea cups. Then he found little hummingbirds' beautiful nest, helped Eeyore find his tail inside a small bush, and found sparkling white spider nest, and touched little snowflakes with his tongue. Eeyore told him, "how wonderful it must be to be small".
I'm not advocating that we citizens of the world are small or that we have a small impact, but rather, we are powerful, alone or in numbers, and yes, we can do something in our own capacity, where we are, with what we have, to change the world (for one person or all humanity), for us and for the future generation. Whenever I feel down with the news (which is almost always bad), I look over to see that change happened in the past started by one person.
Think Moses. Jesus. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi. Mandela. Or that guy in India who planted an island bigger than Central Park on his own.
Many of us look up to that list and probably said, not me. I am not that great. And I can definitely say myself the same thing. But I also told my son that there is only one of him in this world and throughout history that God put at this time at this moment to be him. I don't regret saying those words, but sometimes I think God is too clever to teach me through this parenting thing.
What battle do we choose then, friends? Which one? All of them? I could list all of mine here, but that's not important. I promise I'll get to the point of my rambling, so here we go.
Today is World Humanitarian Day. It's a day to remember the lives of people who sacrificed their lives to work in front lines of humanitarian aid, humanitarian press/photographers, medical persons, who helped others regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity and religion. But it's also a day to remember to help alleviate suffering of 130 million people (let that sink in a little) worldwide in conflicts and disasters.
This is my battle today:
One Humanity: Freedom
My friend Amanda is one of the 50 "freedom fighter" in the US who work with Better Way Imports to spread the word about ending sex trafficking and slavery. She's doing this through hosting parties, selling the products created by women whom otherwise would be sold for forced prostitution. The word "forced" here is the key. They didn't want to be there, or have desire to participate freely. Worldwide, this is the second most profitable "business" after illegal arms trade and the third is illegal drug trafficking. Human trafficking issue is not a new issue for me but that even made my responsibility even bigger and I just couldn't stop thinking about what I can do. And this is it.
So far, Better Way Imports has freed 3,000 women from forced prostitution. They partner with businesses such as Freeset, Sari Bari, Starfish Project, Basha, Freeset Fabrics, Love Calcutta Arts. When we remember that every single thing we wear or use was made by someone, we can appreciate what these businesses are trying to do. To remind us that there is value behind the "things" we have, and that value is a human being just like each one of us. These businesses are not just in the business of freedom, they are working to fix what's broken in the way business have been done (cheap stuff, cheap labor, but costly to the environment and our shared humanity).
There are other ways to help too, if you're not around Cincinnati or have even more limited resources. FreesetUSA, one of the partners of Better Way Imports have a list of actions in their website. Join IJM (International Justice Mission) advocacy campaigns. I agree that one of the ways to erase slavery is by helping people establish their own businesses and capitalized on their talents and assets, but justice still needs to be done, and IJM has been doing a great job in collaborating with local law enforcement in cracking down on human trafficking.
If you're not overwhelmed already with what I just presented to you, here's more to give perspective on what's going on in slavery today that sometimes is missed in the daily news, provided by Amanda:
There are 46 million slaves worldwide (population of California is 39 million)
1 in every 156 people are caught in slavery
Top five countries (58% of those in slavery) are India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan
(Source: Global Slavery Index)
Human trafficking is also not exclusive to those countries, it is a huge issue in this country as well, as it has been reported in all 50 states. One in three children who run away or become homeless will be solicited for sex within 48 hours of running away. And half of all human trafficking victims are children (Source: UNICEF USA)
What's your battle today? Choose one and act on it. You are powerful!