Before I publish this I want to apologize for the jumbled, scattered thoughts of this article. I was seething mad, very heartbroken; and just generally wanted to get points across on the subject.
The mother/daughter relationship has been classified as many things: good and bad, but in the end, it is known deep down that your mother protects you, loves you, and would do anything for you. So what happens when the one person you trust at birth displaces that trust?
When these mother’s are brought to “justice” my heart soars for these children, but although they may be “vindicated” are they truly? I want this to stop, I want mother’s to be the best mother’s they can be – strive to be the best.
I am so honored to be a part of Love146, to see all they do, all they strive to be. I love how they have a Round Home for the victims to help them in various ways. My wish is there were round homes everywhere, but most importantly is one day; these round homes do not exist – because they will not be a need. I know this is a tall-ordered wish, but I cannot help it.
I woke up this morning to a heartbreaking story. 15 year old, Jamie Hubley, from my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario committed suicide on Saturday. He was an openly gay youth who battled depression due to being bullied for being open about his sexuality. I immediately thought back to Bethany Joy Galeotti's amazing blog post, American Gossip Epidemic, and I want to take this declaration a step further and talk about the "Bullying Epidemic".
Many of you reading this have probably been bullied at one time in your life. I was bullied as a young girl struggling with her weight. I was called "thunder" and "earthquake". It got to the point where I feared walking to the store because of the constant name-calling. At the time, I felt shame. I was mad at myself to not fitting into what everyone "deemed" normal. I didn't blame the bullies. I was never angry at them. I turned that anger towards myself.
The truth is that it wasn't my fault. I did not deserve the harsh words. It was not Jamie Hubley's fault. It was not Tyler Clementi's fault. It was NOT YOUR FAULT. No one deserves to be bullied. NO ONE! And I am getting tired of the fact that it not only exists but also seems to be growing and adapting to today's technology.
How many of these heartbreaking stories is it going to take until bullying is eliminated? When are the "bullies" going to realize that their words are KILLING people?! When are we going to stop feeling the need to "other" people? I wish polarizing words like "popularity", "in crowd", "the cool kids" didn't exist. In order to validate that status, you need to have a group of people who don't fit the rules of "coolness". People need to fight to make sure that they feel important by taking that importance away from others. It's sickening!
WE ARE ALL HUMAN! We are all an equally important life on this earth! It's time we be more accepting of EVERYONE! It's time we stop judging others and start understanding them. It's time to learn how to RESPECT each other. We need to go beyond "tolerating" to "embracing" each others' differences.
If you're being bullied right now, please don't blame yourself. Don't let that pain take your life away. You are WORTH being here. You are just as important as those who have made you feel subhuman. If anything, you should feel sorry for them. They obviously have anger and hate in their hearts and have directed it upon someone so innocent. You are amazing, and I hope you tell yourself that every day.
If you're struggling, don't be afraid to seek help. There are local helplines, group sessions, and so many online resources that are created to help you. If I had known about these resources, maybe my self esteem wouldn't be so broken right now. There's a strength in realizing you are in pain, and by meeting others with similar experiences/feelings, you won't feel so alone.
We are all in this together!
Costa Rica: surfing, fishing, jet skiing, sightseeing, and other family outings. That was the summary of my trip in a nutshell. It was amazing and fun, and of course gorgeous. Even the rickety run down looking towns looked historic and rustically beautiful. The food was cheap and delicious. It sounds amazing, and it was. Yet, the entire time I had a few things on my mind that I wanted to ask everyone but truly was afraid of the answer: it had to do with trafficking of humans (mainly children). The first thing I saw when I landed in the city of San Jose, was signs, well one giant sign caught my eye that said “Having sex with someone under 18 will not be tolerated.” I thought TOLERATED, it should punishable and harsher words should be put in its place. My wish was not at all, but if it had to be, then harsher the better. I was happy to find out from the people I did ask though that there is laws put in place to prohibit and punish those who are caught. Was told that drinking and driving was a bigger jail sentence then what those who are caught trafficking (7 years for DUI). Sadly as well they said that tourism is way of life for Costa Rica, with poverty of 20% of the population so some are more in need of US money (the exchange rate is 510.88 CRC = $1.00 USD). This is where trafficking comes in because ‘people travel a long way to find the pimps, and they make really good money.’ I was appalled. People are awful. This needs to stop now.
Knowing Love146 and other organizations like it are helping stop it, makes me even more grateful then I already was to be apart of their wonderful and moving organizations. My hope is and has been for awhile now (once I learned about it) to put an end for human trafficking (among other things). It becomes different reading/seeing it first hand (or gaining more knowledge by going to these places or conferences). http://www.endhumantrafficking.org/about-us/prevention-projects Together let us end and restore those who have been trafficked. One person can make a difference!
I have wanted to write a post about my Tread on Trafficking journey for a while, but I kept getting distracted by work/life. As I reflect on the last two months, there are three reasons why these past 8 weeks will stay with me forever:
1. I treaded for 94 miles. Was this my goal? No, but sometimes it's about the journey and not the destination. I work about an hour from home, so I spent weeks waking up at 6am, doing my daily work-out, and then going to work. I'd get home at 7pm, eat dinner, and then I'd walk for 2-3 miles in the evening. I felt like I was achieving something so special by pushing myself like this.... It was a really proud moment for me (and a routine I hope I will return to soon). As a girl who has struggled with my weight since I was a young child, I was so proud that I was finally making that change.
2. I convinced 11 people to support me as I treaded and raised $310.00! I was so scared to share this endeavor with my friends and family because I am not fit. I don't run for causes . . . but they did support me! I was SO SO thankful for that. I am also SO SO confident that the money donated is going to a wonderful organization who is doing something AMAZING and INSPIRING to prevent sex trafficking and to rehabilitate the survivors of this horrific industry.
3. As I revealed in my last blog post, my dad died on June 11th. It has basically changed my whole world, and it's left me completely heartbroken. But you know what's so special? The last thing he supported me doing was Treading on Trafficking. He even sponsored me... I sometimes look at my sponsors just to see his name scroll down the list. It comforts me to know just how much he supported me as I tried to spread awareness on the reality of human trafficking. He supported my fitness goals... and he was proud of what I had been doing. That will stay with me forever, and what better final project for him to support?
I wish I could write and say that it has been a great 8 weeks for me because that would be a lie, but I know that when the pain starts to dissipate, I'll be able to look back on these last 8 weeks, and I'll find comfort that it was my dad's last memory of me - a girl who was FINALLY fighting to change her life.
I hope I can find the strength to be that girl again....
Thanks for reading,
Today is Father's Day....
I lost my father a week go. He died suddenly in our living room, and I felt blindsided by how quick it was. I never got to say what I wished to say. My last memory of him is quite negative. He hadn't been well. His heart and lungs were weak, and he seemed to think he was dying (I didn't believe him). He became self destructive - drinking all day. He became unrecognizable from the father I had grown up with. But he wanted to change.. for me. He loved me. And above all else, that matters the most. The past year of stressful moment after stressful moment no longer matters. It's just a small stain on a perfect white shirt. Stronger than the frustration is love... and I don't think he knew just how much I did love him. How much I always will.
I haven't treaded on trafficking this week. I have eaten every comfort food imaginable. I have stopped taking care of myself as I try to accept one of life's greatest tragedies. And worst of all? Today is Father's Day... It's f*cking Father's Day. And I just said goodbye to mine.
So as I struggle to accept his absence in my life, I want to celebrate his life tomorrow. He sponsored me to tread on trafficking. He supported me and was proud of the life changes that I had recently made. So tomorrow, instead of letting the pain consume me, I am going to channel this energy and do something positive. I am going to walk six miles in honour of my Father.
This experience has taught me once again how precious life is. How we only have ONE life... and to spend that life as a slave is unacceptable. Life is a gift. To take advantage and abuse one's gift is one of life's greatest crimes.
So I will walk. I will remember my father. And I will continue to fight for the children sold into sex trafficking.
Happy Father's Day everyone.
Amongst all the things my heart desires to do I'd like to share one of them with you. About a year ago, I was introduced to a really great organization called Love 146. They are based in New Haven, CT and their main focus is to raise awareness and help end child sex slavery and human trafficking. Their founders created this non-profit after going undercover in another country heavily stricken with the exploitation of children and women. They walked besides men who were there to buy these girls as commodities for an hour or so, playing the role just to get an inside look of how horrible this trading really is. When they got back home to the US, Love 146 was birthed and today they have rehabilitated hundred's of young children and women. A lot of those women are now married and are able to cope and move on with life.
When I was introduced to this non-profit org, I sat in front of my computer drowning in my tears after listening and reading stories of these rehabilitated children and women. Immediately something had sparked inside of me. Many of those emotions were sadness and grief and my heart went out to these people. But most of all, it was mostly righteous anger that ignited this certain passion to help...even if only from my own home. My safe home on my comfortable safe couch on a beautiful island. That's when I knew I could do something whether it be by monetary donations or getting Love 146's name out.
All I knew right then was that I wanted to help. I wanted to join the fight.
So throughout 2010, I donated a few times, engaged in Twitter campaigns and continued to share with my friends and family (if I hadn't shared it with you yet, I'm sorry) about Love 146, making sure people knew what was going on out there. Yes, I was so oblivious to the fact that sex slavery and exploitation was happening here in Hawai'i (where I'm from)...here in the US. And when I finally learned of that, my fight got bigger and I really wanted to DO something more.
A few weeks ago I learned that Love 146 was doing another campaign called "Tread on Trafficking". It's a campaign where anyone can join and walk, run, hike, bike, swim...even dance to raise money for L146 and their rehab centers (Round Homes). It's also a way for it's "participants" to get healthy and get active! Each mile you walk/run, hike, bike or swim can be worth something. Sure for me, it means I get to lose weight (YAY!) and help put my feet down to end child sex slavery and human trafficking. How cool is that?! It's awesome.
There is an actress that I admire and her name is Bethany Joy Galeotti (One Tree Hill) and two days ago she started a Tread on Trafficking team with a goal to raise $2000+ and in one day the team (who is mostly everyday people) has raised close to $900. She just raised the $$ goal to $15,000.
Let's do this!
-Che'Lyssa - a Love Warrior
All little ones need love.
Ever since I learned about Love146, I have been thinking much about my childhood and I do it which so much fondness and glee. I remember the games I played with my friends -- the stories we so creatively made up, the places we so loosely imagined and the dreams we so freely dreamt. All these we were able to do because we had parents and families who had encouraged us to do so. Who nourished and protected us with their love and told us that "we can be whoever we want to be, if we believed enough in it." Who allowed us to be who we were supposed to be at the time -- to be just "kids". Those were incredible years and its not because I got everything I wanted (I didn't) but because I got all that I need. I had food, water, clothes, shelter, education and love; all so easily enough and all for FREE.
It is with these thoughts that I also began to wonder how hard it must be for children without parents to look out for love and to seek for protection. And how much worst it is to have to work so hard for what they need and yet to be refused by the world from having it. It is disturbing to grasp the thought that I may only be one of the few exceptions who so loosely sauntered childhood -- not abused in any form. And it's nerving to think that I may be lucky enough to escape slavery but my future children wouldn't.
I admit, I have no personal experience regarding this grueling topic of child slavery and exploitation enough to fully understand the pain and struggle of each survivor of abuse. I can only imagine it. But I think I have so much love built in my heart courtesy of my loved ones, that I am moved to do something. It is also in gratitude of my wonderful past and in remembrance that I was once I child that I began to support Love 146.
And It is also perhaps Love that brought all of us together here at "We are All Human." It is because of our overflowing love that what started as a small tribute to the lovely Bethany Joy Galeotti turn to be huge impacter in the lives of the children at Love146. It's amazing how each of began as loving individuals and became a big group, standing and moving together to end child-sex slavery and exploitation. It's riveting what love can do.
Perhaps it's best that we constantly remind ourselves that we were all once children and that we are capable of loving. That in any case, we are asked the questions "Who could fight for the vulnerable and for those who cannot fight for themselves?", "Who could encouraged the children without parents to dream their dreams?" or "Who could give these children the love they need?"' We can firmly say "I could, you could... WE COULD."
I'll end with a reminder of who we are:
Love Warriors ~n. Fans of BJG brought together out of love.Soldiers of
Love...Defenders of Human Rights.
"We fight because of love,for love,through love. Love is simply what were made of."
And a poem:
If you had been a child like me
You would know how it is to be free
To see all things with innocence and glee
To have a heart as gentle as it can be
And you would grasp how it is to flee
And now with child-like wonder
And loving eyes,
Let's wish all children these,
Wish them peace
Wish them love
And a freedom to enjoy
We wish them glee,
We wish them free,
We wish them to flee,
And to be whoever they want to be.
Happy Easter everyone.
The principal of not putting things off is definitely one that should be applied to fighting human trafficking. There's no time we can waste when people are being treated in ways too hard to imagine. I thought to myself, if i can't even be bothered to write a blog post, I'm certainly not helping in any way. So right now I'm going to do something, anything, to help; starting with this blog. And I urge you to do something too, especially as it's #CharityTuesday. I'll either tell someone about Love146, open someone's eyes to the harsh reality of human trafficking, or donate what I can to this more than worthwhile cause. Do something now, it won't take much, just STOP PUTTING IT OFF. Every second we tell ourselves "I'll do it later" or "They don't want to hear about that..." is a second wasted in the fight to end the suffering and help the victims of this atrocious trade.
So with this short post, all I want to say is Do Something. Now.
I don't have an emotional story tied to trafficking. I have not experienced that world first-hand. I don't have wisdom for survivors. I wish I understood why that world existed beyond the obvious reasons of poverty, exploitation and desperation. All I truly have to offer is my support for the issue. My enthusiasm to see real change during my life time, and the only way that can be accomplished is if we truly start to re-evaluate the world we live in. If we start to question everything we know to be true.
Instead of trying to answer the philosophical answers of our existence, I'd rather start small by supporting Love146 again by donating to their prevention and aftercare programs. So, the question I ask is if you would all be interested in doing something again?
I don't have any pull for celebrity involvement, but that doesn't mean what we do isn't special. That doesn't mean our efforts won't be appreciated.
I am going to list a few ideas in a poll below, and I am open to so many creative suggestions. So please vote, share, and be as creative as you'd like.
Thank you everyone who has donated and helped spread the word for #WeAreAllHuman. I'd love to do something just as special again, so please participate in the poll and share your wonderful ideas!!
I am sure I am not the only one that at times feels unmotivated to workout/be active in some way, but one thing I’m always motivated for is helping others. Ever since I found out about Love 146 and all they do, my desire to help even more increased tenfold. Such an amazing organization battling one of the most horrific injustices in the world: human trafficking; and I knew I wanted to help in any way I can. I personally am very excited to “being active for love” and this amazing project has increased my desire to be very active in the upcoming months. Being active has many benefits beyond burning calories, fat, and toning muscles; but it increases blood flow, have more energy and research has shown that it will motivate you to eat better…and now you can add philanthropist to that!
I hope that others out there will join in on this very influential project and “Tread for Trafficking” (Love 146.org campaign words), and help give this organization and the victims they help a better chance at a more loving life that everyone so rightly deserves. Need more motivation that what I mentioned above? There are also awards/honors/accolades to be won, as well as a possibility of receiving a 32GB iPod Touch with your choice of branded Love146.org design!! Treading starts May 1st through June 30th.
“If you make your best effort to be kinder, nurture compassion, make the world a better place, and then you can say 'At least I've done my best’.” –Dalai Lama.
As we all know, today (April 2nd) is the beautiful and inspiring Bethany Joy Galeotti's birthday! On her twitter, she asked "for all of you who can to make a donation to @OfficialLove146 or @TWLOHA" for her birthday.
Well, what better a way to celebrate her birthday than to get all of the Love Warriors to donate to We Are All Human's Crowdrise benefiting Love146?
In addition to donating, for the first 60 people who donate $10 or more, we will send you a little piece of our heart in the form of a puzzle piece.
So please join me in wishing BJG a great birthday by donating to Love146 and We Are All Human in Joy's name!
I had the honour tonight of attending a local event in Ottawa that benefited Love146. The night was filled with local talent: music, dancing, and a theatrical performance. It was inspiring to see a room filled with talented youth who were gathered to learn more about Love146 and child trafficking.
After an hour of performances (shout out to the bboys!!), Paul Morin -- VP of Development -- and Matthew Miller -- Network Networks Coordinator -- spoke to the group. They started by showing an introductory video. Paul then talked about his experiences in South East Asia. He talked about being approached in a mall by countless people offering him young girls. IN A MALL!
He offered us some hope when he talked about Serey -- a survivor who was recently married. He had attended the wedding and saw first-hand just how meaningful that moment was. You can read more on the Love146 Blog: "Serey Getting Married".
He talked about what Love146 does - prevention and aftercare. Something I didn't know was that they are currently taking care of three babies in the Round Home. It's not shocking that these girls would be pregnant, but I was so happy to hear that Love146 would care for the infants who were created during such a horrific act.
Something he made clear is that we're ALL responsible for these children. It is our duty to help save them from this horrifying industry. He asked the question, "are you an observer or a doer?" We have to be "doers". We can't simply ignore this issue. By ignoring it, we're letting it occur ALL over the world.
Matthew Miller talked about the Love146 Task Forces. He said something really interesting. He remarked that - in that room - all would be impacted by the issue. Some would read about Love146 and become aware of the issues. Others would be so affected they'd donate, and a few would be so affected that they'd have to take a stand and make it a point to become an abolitionist. When I first read about Love146, I knew I couldn't just donate and be content with that, and even the creation of this campaign, We Are All Human, is not enough. I wish I could do more. I wish that everyone in that room had left feeling the way I do. Nothing feels like it's enough so I have to keep fighting. I can't stop. I don't think I ever will.
I found it really inspiring to see Paul still getting a little choked up when he spoke about the issue. When he addressed the group, he had to take a minute to compose himself. Too see what he's seen, to experience what he's experienced -- it's not just a story. It's a dark and devastating reality. One that we need to STOP ignoring. It's growing too quickly.
At the end, I introduced myself to Paul and told him it was an honour to hear him speak. I told him that I was the one who created the #WeAreAllHuman campaign. What is interesting is that before I even started this campaign, I had been on the phone with him and Elizabeth from Love146 who had offered their support. It was that phone call that truly inspired me to go through with this campaign, so to meet one of the people in that call was such a blessing. It, yet again, reinforced WHY I am doing this for Love146. It's an organization FILLED with passionate individuals who are TRULY affected by this issue. They live and breath this devastating crime, and they will not stop until it's abolished.
I wanted to thank ALL of you for helping me with the #WeAreAllHuman campaign. Love146 has been really impressed with our work to spread awareness and to fundraise for the survivors of child sex slavery. They have appreciated us and supported us FROM THE BEGINNING. All of your voices have been so important, and I hope you won't stop. I hope you'll all become DOERS and feel like nothing is ever enough.
I also urge you all to check the Love146 Calendar to see if there are any events in your area. I promise you'll leave feeling inspired. This is not their job. This is their struggle, and even though it's difficult to wake up each morning to learn more about this devastating issue, they do it because they care. Because they can't let this issue go on.
Keep educating yourself. Donate to Love146. Start a Task Force. It's not an easy world issue to learn about daily, but if all of us were to do our part, maybe we could one day wake up and be proud of the world we live in.
My Unrealistic (??) Dream
During the performances tonight, I thought to myself, "How amazing would it be if Everly did a benefit concert that included some speakers from Love146? Gosh, if I had the ability to organize it, I would. I think it would be such a SPECIAL night. :) Would you all go?
“Got to be a warrior, in my head, in my heart...Got to be a warrior, find the strength, in these scars. It’s time to turn around; it’s time to fight for what I believe…”
There are many individuals, groups who are fighting as warriors to stop unbelievable and heartbreaking tragedies in many different categories of the world. One of these is human trafficking; “the tricking or luring of people away from their homeland to work under exploitative conditions elsewhere.” Imagine trusting someone and them betraying the trust…suddenly being thrown into a place where unspeakable actions are being taken out against you. Eventually you may even start to feel it’s your fault. Wondering why this happened to you and seeing no means of escaping it. Sometimes individuals are not taken away anyway, being used at home or within their own country. Not feeling true love, having the warmth and the incredible gift of freedom; wondering if they may ever get out. The heroes that speak up, fight back, and work their hardest to help anybody going through these terrible fates are extraordinary. The victims who are warriors and fight back and work hard to get out, to remain strong and hopeful; my hat is off to you. Never taking for granted unconditional love, the warmth of a good home, and the feeling of freedom…that is what can be learned from these victims. Not only learning from them, but trying to be vigilant in helping them is one way to show appreciation for all you have.
According to The U.S. State Department, there are roughly 12.3 million adults and children who suffer in forced labor or forced prostitution around the world. This number is astounding, but hopefully by either donating, volunteering, and keeping your own eyes/ears open we can bring this starting statistic to a much lower number. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect, to not feel safe and loved…to have freedom. I may sound like a broken record, and maybe I am, but if we sit and do nothing we are almost just as bad. The saying, “to the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.” Truly is the idea of a person (author unknown) who knew how the smallest gesture can create a very big impact (even if it’s just for one individual). We must start somewhere, and a solution can eventually be reached, we first must try.
So if you would like to be a warrior and help there are many organizations that you can use and get involved in: Love 146.org, sctnow.org, notforsalecampaign.org/, and endhumantrafficking.org/ are just to name a few. There are many out there, all you have to do is look. I know not everyone can donate, but even bringing to light this excruciatingly saddening topic is a step in the right direction. Together we can reach the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
About a week ago, I put out a request for bloggers and then life happened and I never followed up on exactly what I wanted (sorry!).
I'd love to form a group of contributors who'd be willing to blog on here. There's no requirements on how often you should blog, but I'd love it if you could post once or twice a month if you feel inspired. There is such a power to blogging, and my thinking was that if we could create a powerful blog with diverse voices that covers many different topics related to human trafficking that maybe people would become more inspired to join the movements against modern day slavery whether they are in your communities or online. :)
What to blog about:
As for content, my only request is that we keep it related to human trafficking/modern day slavery. This opens up MANY topics. You can blog about organizations you love, videos you have found, news stories, your thoughts on the issue, etc. You can even write something empowering to the girls/boys who feel a loss of self. Maybe you have a personal story of adversity that can become a letter of empowerment to someone who is struggling. Maybe you understand the pain of feeling less human. You can be as creative as you want.
This is a great opportunity to start a real conversation about so many different topics related to the issue of human trafficking, and I'd love to be inspired by all of your beautiful words.
I have added a tab for "Love Warriors". That is where we will put a picture/art of all of our Love Warriors who choose to be bloggers. So once you've decided that you'd love to join us, tweet me a picture (of you or something that represents you), and I will start building that section.
How to join us
DM me your email on Twitter. If I am not following you, tell me to. I'll then invite you via blogger to become a contributor. You may have to make a google account with your email if you're not on gmail, but I believe it's a simple process to get on blogger.
You can update you own posts via blogger whenever you feel inspired. Let me know when you have, and I'll tweet about it. :)
Please join us! Your voice is important!
Here is our video for the Love146 Broken Hearts Campaign. I want to thank EVERYONE who submitted something to be featured in the video. You are all SO amazing.
I'd also like to thank Ashley who put the video together; Zoe who helped her organize the video; Kristen who helped plan the video and sent out puzzle pendants; and Rachel who helped plan the video. It was a GREAT group of people to work with.
I definitely got teary eyed the first few times I watched it reading and listening to everyone's broken hearts.
Thanks for watching!
Very simple to get involved!! Send everything to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen (@KLafferty6) has made a WONDERFUL puzzle in honour of our broken hearts.
When you participate in our video - tweet, picture, and/or video clip - we will send you a piece of the puzzle - a pendant that you can wear around your neck. Read how to get involved in our video here: Let's Celebrate Our Broken Hearts
When you participate, send your mailing address to email@example.com (or just let me know your name if I sent you an TY card). This is simply a Thank You for joining our broken hearts club!!