It isn’t what happens to you that counts, it’s how you respond to it. I have heard this many times, and believe it to be true. Crisis can hit any of us any time but hope need not give way to fear. There is always a bright future for those who will carry the right lesson forward.
[quote type=”center”] The tiny country of Rwanda, situated like a pearl deep in the heart of Africa, stands as an example to the world of great loss that can result when good people fail to act– as well as the great gains that can be made when concrete steps are taken to change course. [/quote]
Seventeen years ago last month the plane carrying Rwanda’s president Juvnal Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down, and during the 100 days that followed, 800,000 people were murdered in what will go down in history as the Rwandan Genocide.
It inspired a critically acclaimed movie ‘Hotel Rwanda,” which was nominated for multiple awards in 1994, including Academy Award nominations for best actor, best supporting actrsss and original screenplay.
When he visited Rwanda in the summer of 2005, former U.S. President Bill Clinton apologized for refusing to step in, as the leader of the free world, to prevent the slaughter.
“I express regret for my personal failure,” he said before touring the museum commemorating victims of the 100-day massacre.
Whether or not you like Bill Clinton or agree with his ideology, you have to respect his willingness to come to grips with his mistake in Rwanda. He has backed it up with action, as well. In a touching article written by Kate Snow on the Good Morning America website, Clinton’s visit to Rwanda in 2008 with his daughter Chelsea is highlighted. After describing their movements through the Rwandan countryside, the article ends with a sense of reflection on what happened in 1994:
[quote] Clinton says he doesn’t feel any “guilt” that the genocide occurred while he was president of the United States.
‘No, not guilt. I’ve atoned for that,’ Clinton said. ‘I’ve been here in 1998 and told them I was sorry. But I do feel a lifetime responsibility.
Clinton continued, ‘When I left the White House, I told [Rwandan] President [Reuben] Kigame that I felt I should do whatever I could for the rest of my life to help them become whole and make a new beginning.[/quote]
Today, Rwanda continues a remarkable recovery. Rwanda’s economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Genocide, but has since strengthened. It is now one of the safest and most orderly countries in Africa.
In an interview with NY Magazine, author and expert on the genocide, Philip Gourevitch, describes the incredible and inspiring leadership of president Kagame, who has brought Rwanda back to phenomenal recovery:
He’s become, probably Africa’s pre-eminent evangelist of entrepreneurship and freedom from foreign aid.
You can pull up the fascinating 12 minute audio of the interview HERE.
So many men were killed in the genocide of ’94 in Rwanda, that when the smoke cleared, the population was 70% female. This was a deeply wounded nation, where 200,000 people had HIV and 800,000 children were orphaned.
Kagame, whose personal friends includes people like Bill Clinton and Rick Warren, rolled with the punches, and began to champion women at every level of society.
‘You shut that population out of economic activity at your peril,’ he told an interviewer. ‘The decision to involve women, we did not leave it to chance,’ he added. ‘In the constitution, we said that women have to make up 30 percent of the parliament.’
The result has been a new Rwanda that has amazed outside observers. It has one of the fastest growing economies on Africa and also one of the least corrupt and best-governed countries in Africa.
Rwanda has proven on the macro level what can happen if the right lesson is carried forward and if women are given a platform to make a difference in every level of life. Gendercide can be answered with gender empowerment.
So the question must be asked: can women who are rescued from human trafficking and the slave trade find their place as healers and world changers? Why not?
Opening Eyes and Changing Minds
The human trafficking epidemic is something that most of us have very little understanding of. We read an article or see a news clip, and our curiosity is piqued. Then we watch a movie like “Trade” or read a book like “Not For Sale,” and we make the transition from bystander to abolitionist. Yet the question we all face is “now what?” The fact is, the process has only begun within us. The ripple has just begun. It will grow into a wave as we discover more people like ourselves, who feel a fire emerging in our belly and are intent on doing something about the truth we have encountered.
[quote type=”center”] Human trafficking statistics are just numbers until we connect the stories and the faces to them [/quote]
Human trafficking statistics are just numbers until we connect the stories and the faces to them. Human trafficking solutions seem impotent as we ask ourselves “What can be done? What can I do?” Human trafficking in Moldova, for example, is so deeply embedded in the psyche of that country that only a militant fight to turn the hearts and minds of this generation—in the schools, in the neighborhoods, in the family gatherings—will turn the tide. Sure, addressing poverty is a big art of the solution, as is passing laws. But we must be reminded that human trafficking is a big money proposition for all parties involved, including parents and relatives who sell their children to address their “poverty.” So too, corrupt officials, feeling overworked and underpaid, are everywhere in every country, lining their pockets and reaching for the fringe benefits of their position. At JFY, we are presently investing our efforts in an all out strategy to place into the hearts and minds of the youth of Eastern Europe a desire and determination to stand up for themselves.
For the rest of the world who have not heard the penny drop, we continue to reach out and spread the word. Human trafficking—the brutal exploitation of this generation of at risk youth– is more real and more pervasive than any of us dare to admit or believe. In many ways we are only beginning to scratch the surface.
There are people out there—fellow abolitionists— who inspire, encourage and propel all us to open our eyes, get involved and make a difference. One such person is Mimi Chakarova. This daring young lady decided to enter the world of human trafficking as a photo journalist, undercover. She exposed herself to the culture so she could bring to us all a vivid and heart rending view of the real story on the ground. She has produced some excellent documentaries, including Sex Trafficking Documentary “The Price of Sex.” She explains her plight below in this short video clip…
The movie Trade, starring Kevin Kline (2007), is a riveting, true to life depiction of the human trafficking industry no holds barred. On a number of occasions during my viewing I struggled to contain my emotions and wondered if I could continue watching without taking a break to absorb it all. The movie is that good, that authentic. And human trafficking is that disturbing.
The story opens in the barrios of Mexico City, with an all-Spanish dialogue. I was instantly reminded of City of Joy, in that this movie, too, unashamedly immersed me the third world and placed me at the ground level, in the culture, from start to finish. There is no glamor here. There are no special effects or edited content to dramatize or soften the story.
The characters are unforgettable. There’s the 18 year old maverick son who, himself involved in street crime, discovers that his thirteen year old sister has been kidnapped and does not rest until he finds her. There are the trafficking victims, looking heavenward in hopes of survival. There is the Russian mafia and the Mexican mafia and the smaller players who play their part in this tale of terror. There’s an American man, played by Kevin Kline, who is on a search for his missing daughter. There are the corrupt officials, the border crossings and the weeping parents.
[quote type=”center”] The sense of loss. The loss of innocence. The despair of the trapped. The passionate desperation of the hero to save the lost. [/quote]
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. But I am warning you: it is graphic. It is disturbing. But it is real. If you watch it, you will be moved. I promise.
Human trafficking of girls is a global epidemic. International human trafficking is a very lucrative business and attracts a very sordid group of organized criminals. This movie will introduce you to an inside look at the modern day slave trade and the plight of at risk youth.
Find it, rent it, watch it. If you can’t find it at the video store, do what I did. If you don’t already have an account, take Netflix (or Amazon Prime) up on their free trial offer and watch it on-line. And when you’ve finished watching come back here and drop us a comment. We would love to have your in-put, and better yet, we would love to have you join us as we seek to stop this vicious attack on our youth.
Sex Trafficking Examined
Dateline November 5, 2012–the Associated Press
“Experts testifying before a new Alaska task force on sex trafficking said Monday the teenage victims often are too afraid and embarrassed, and sometimes too addicted to drugs, to come forward…”
[button link=”http://news.yahoo.com/alaska-sex-trafficking-task-force-holds-hearing-012326877.html” color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Read More: Sex Trafficking Under The Magnifying Glass[/button]
[quote type=”center”] Justice For Orphans exists to rally people for the cause of the fatherless by bringing awareness of the global orphan crisis and championing hope and purpose for the orphan. [/quote]
A homeschooling mom in upstate New York has launched an initiative to help orphans and raise awareness on human trafficking, and is inviting you to get involved!
[button link=”http://advocacy.justiceforyouth.org/human-trafficking-solutions/justice-for-orphans/” color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Find Out More About JFO[/button]
In the critically acclaimed brothel documentary “Born Into Brothels,” photographer Zana Briski goes to a red light district in Calcutta to see for herself what life is like there. Not able to get a genuine glimpse of what was really going on was a tad frustrating at first.
[quote type=”center”]”It’s almost impossible to photograph in the red light district,” she explains. “It’s a whole separate society within itself. I mean, you just walk down that one lane and it’s another world.”[/quote]
But something happened that took her venture down a whole new path:
“As soon as I enter the brothels I met the children…”
These remarkable little people swept her off her feet and she decided to try and see the world through their eyes. The documentary is the chronicle of eight children that she worked with and what she discovered as they opened up to her. A moment of truth arrives when one of the young girls confides
“The women ask me, ‘When are you going to join the line?’ The say it won’t be long.”
Zana realizes she needs to do something to try and get these children out of the brothels and into a safe place where they can thrive. Her response, and the adventures in photography and life that she experienced in Calcutta, are captured in this remarkable 2004 film.
Jyoti Kalash: Bringing Hope To Brothel Children
In west India, a group of dedicated people are have made it their life goal to reach the brothel kids and offer them hope. “Jyoti Kalash” is committed long term to making a real difference in the lives of these brothel children of Mumbai, India’s largest city. These are children of trafficked women–commercial sex workers–and this NGO is committed to providing them a “safe place” to grow up. Justice For Youth made contact with Vera Fernandes who works with JK. You can read more about Vera and what she is doing to help these kids by clicking the link below:
[button link=”http://advocacy.justiceforyouth.org/reaching-the-brothel-children/” newwindow=”yes”] Reaching The Brothel Children[/button]
We posed a few questions to Kelly, one of the founders and CEO of Justice For Youth. Kelly is a busy man who travels extensively and has a lot of responsibilities, and we appreciate him taking the time to give some candid answers.
JFY: Tell us briefly about yourself.
Kelly: I am married and have two children. My wife is from the USA and I am from Canada. We currently live in Eastern Europe.
JFY: When did the vision of Justice For Youth first begin to germinate, and what finally brought you to the point of launching it?
Kelly: In 2005, we started to hear of the growing problem of trafficking in Eastern Europe and began to do some research into human trafficking statistics. After reading the book, The Natashas and visiting some related web sites, we became horrified and knew that something had to be done to stop modern day slavery. We learned that some of these young people were even kidnapped off the streets and had to ask ourselves, ‘what would we do if that was our child?’ Justice for Youth was born.
JFY: With so many organizations focused on human trafficking and poverty today, why start another one? And why Justice For Youth?
Kelly: If you compare the number of organizations to the need, you would see that we are all still scratching the surface. It’s like a farmer trying to till 1000 acres of land with one hoe! The problem is growing and Justice for Youth was created to bring hope to children and youth at risk around the world.
JFY: If you were given a blank piece of paper and told that whatever you wrote on it for Justice For Youth would become true in 5 years, what would you write?
Kelly: I would love to see modern day slavery reduced to a low percentage in Eastern Europe with strict laws enforced for offenders. I would also like to see this campaign be so in the forefront of society that it becomes no longer a secret and ill-informed social evil. Of course, I would also like to see hope for orphaned children through quality homes, new families and innovative education that prepares them not just for life but for success in life!
[quote]I would like to see a lot of things and I do believe that millions of children and youth will be influenced by our projects— but I would also do all of this for just one child if I knew we could save that child from the horror of trafficking, a life-long battle with HIV/AIDS, a homeless childhood or the damaging effects of poverty! [/quote]
JFY: Is there any particular story or encounter that has particular meaning to you in relation to the vision of Justice For Youth?
Kelly: A number of years ago, my wife and I visited an orphanage in Western Ukraine and learned that they were receiving $1 per child per month from the government. The facilities were run down, the children were dirty and the food was scarce. We began to ask ourselves, what can be done? Secondly, during the last 5 years, I have traveled to a number of countries across Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East and have noticed young, single, attractive girls on the flights who’s faces seemed cold and eye’s frightened. I knew that these girls were being trafficked but I didn’t know what to do about it. Now I know and I believe that a movement of JFYers around the world can, together, make a difference in the lives of many, many young people.
JFY: What would you say, if you could, to a young person trapped in the vice-grip of human trafficking and the slave trades of our day?
Kelly: There is hope! You are not alone! Give me your hand.
JFY: What would you say to someone who would like to help but doesn’t know what to do?
Kelly: Please join us in the cause for Justice for Youth. There is strength in numbers. We can do this together through networking, petitioning, giving, building, educating, caring. Slavery, homelessness and poverty can be defeated when we all stand together and do our part. What’s your part?
Human Trafficking: The Evil That Knows No Borders
Human trafficking is an evil that is growing by leaps and bounds globally. It has a strong root system even in the neighborhoods and families of the victims, as reflected in the following report from Vicki, who visited some trafficking hot spots in Eastern Europe last year, seeking new opportunities for JFY to be a part of the solution. Here is what Vicki reported:
[quote]”Just returned from our investigative trip through Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Incredible, the amount of Russian speaking girls in these countries. Found out that in Romania and Turkey, it is not uncommon for parents to sell their daughters to men for marriage as young as 14 years old. In some villages, it is thought to be prestigious to get a “job” as a prostitute. Met few people that are trying to combat this evil that knows no borders![/quote]
Human trafficking of women and children
The evil of human trafficking children often starts in the home. The sad reality is family members (immediate and extended) often play a lead role in selling their kids into slavery, usually through touting a job offer, or “someone they know” who wants to provide this young person with a job to help the family out. There are so many underhanded tactics being employed. Providing information on human trafficking to young people in the schools–the very who are being targeted the most, is a laser focus of JFY.
Justice For Youth has a simple but effective strategy to combat human trafficking of children. We are presently engaged in an adopt a school initiative geared to educate and inform students of the evils and tactics of trafficking. Our hope is that in learning of the dangers, young people will avoid the pitfalls that lead to enslavement. An ounce of prevention, it has been said, is worth a pound of cure!
If you would like to help, click HERE to find out more about this strategy.
Justice For Youth is presently engaged in an adopt a school initiative geared to educate and inform students of the evils and tactics of trafficking. Our hope is that in learning of the dangers, young people will avoid the pitfalls that lead to enslavement. An ounce of prevention, it has been said, is worth a pound of cure!
Human Trafficking In Us: 50% Are Children
Human trafficking is growing at a faster pace globally than any criminal enterprise—and it is is taking root and flourishing in the United States. Human trafficking statistics tell us that roughly half of those trafficked are children. Difficult economic times have provided traffickers with a window of opportunity: a GRUESOME prospect for the future of all Americans. Here is a story from USA Today: A Ukranian Trafficker and A Detroit Man Named Gruesome