Friday, October 31, 2008

DR and Haiti

I visited Haiti and the Dominican Republic for one week. Two beautiful countries that have minority groups that are still searching for Freedom.

In my visit to Dejabon, a city in the Dominican Republic that borders Haiti, I immediately faced the realities of forced labor within these two countries.

One woman pointed out three teenagers, and said that she'd rescued them from Haiti. She claimed that without her help their lives "would be nothing." But the reality is that she herself is now holding these young women in bondage, because without their labor she cannot afford to send her son to school. The young women work all day selling products for the older women in the streets, and in the afternoon they work in her home. They have never been to school or been paid, and their owner still believes that she is doing them a favor. 

In Haiti, exchanging children as Restavek, or slaves, is not uncommon. The people that buy them will even use religious language to justify their actions. This messianic perception of the slaveholders is a big challenge for the modern day abolitionist in Haiti and the DR.

Kique Bazan

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

White House Roundtable

I'm excited to report that I've been invited to participate in a roundtable at the White House next week. Sponsored by the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives and the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons the discussion will focus on future strategies and promising practices for combating modern-day slavery.

In true grassroots form, Not For Sale has been building in-roads with leaders in the political (Advocacy Days), business, faith, and university realms. Our aim is to create a conduit for backyard abolitionists to be heard within the halls of power... whether it be in Washington DC or Sacramento or St. Paul or Columbus.

As we view it, Not For Sale is a reflection of our entire backyard abolitionist community: in collaboration, through open source activism, we want to amplify your voice to combat slavery. It is in this spirit that I am asking for your crucial input for this roundtable discussion. Please post questions, comments, and/or suggestions for our governmental and fellow NGO leaders.

So, please make a post or drop me an email -maxwex(AT), and let me know what you think is most needed for helping combat trafficking in your area and beyond.

Mark Wexler

High School Students on the March!!

I spent the past couple of days in Minneapolis where I had the privilege of being present for a premiere showing of the film Call and Response. Our NFS state team packed out the theater, then led a lantern processional through Uptown, a trendy district of Minneapolis. Nearly 300 folks showed up for the film and the processional, including the executive directors of the three shelters for trafficking survivors that offer services in the Twin Cities.

The next day I spoke to the entire assembly of students at Minnehaha High School. A number of the students had attended the movie the night before and were charged up! Minnehaha demonstrates what one high school can do once the students and teachers decide that they cannot stand by and allow any child to suffer in slavery. Every sports team at Minnehaha will sponsor a Free2Play game this year. The varsity football team is foregoing the usual catering at their season-end event and donating the savings to a NFS project. School dances tack on an extra dollar to the ticket price that will go toward NFS projects to free children. Teachers are integrating NFS materials into geography, social studies, and creative writing curriculum. The school will be having a "how do you wear orange day?" to raise awareness in the community. Students are volunteering at the survivor shelters in the Twin Cities. Nearly a dozen students and a couple teachers will have an immersion experience with our Peru project at the end of the school year.

These students have parents or other guardians, of course, and they are pulling the adults into their passion to know more and act more to end slavery. Many parents told me they started reading my book after their kids came home from school and urged them to get educated. Imagine if we can repeat this commitment in merely one high school in each and every city in the USA? The ripple effect would be unbelievable. Lead on student abolitionists!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Contact your State Director!

Below is the official list of State Directors for Not For Sale. We encourage you to contact your State Director if you're looking to get involved in the fight against human trafficking on a local or regional level. Pictures, bios, and full contact details for each of these Abolitionists are soon to come on the NFS State Directors webpage!

Arkansas -Samantha Fagan:
California (Northern) - Mark Wexler:
California (San Diego County) - Stephanie Voorkamp:
Colorado - Pam Harvey:
Georgia- Mark Hoerrner:
Hawaii – Maria Bedrosian:
Michigan – Chris Momany:
Minnesota - Richard Wexler:
Missouri – John Battaglia:
New York City – Christy Tyson:
Nevada – Paige Hendrix:
New Jersey - Amari Verastegui:
North Carolina - Rachel Kennedy:
Ohio - Jeremy Scott:
Oregon – Scott MacDonald:
Pennsylvania (Eastern/Philadelphia) - Kara Beardsell:
South Carolina – Mark Long:; Maryse Gartner:
Tennessee - Derri & Bill Smith:
Texas (North/Dallas) - Jason Potnick:
Texas (South/Houston) - Dennis & Bobbie Mark:
Washington (state) - Carol Sluys:; Sarah Sweeney
Southeast Regional Director - Keisha Hoerrner:
New Brunswick, Canada – Addie Houston:
NFS Spain – Marc Correa:
NFS UK - Louisa Barry:
NFS East Africa - David Mwambari:

Open Source Activism

One of the key principles that Not For Sale embeds in nearly everything we do is open source activism. It means that our overriding goal is to equip a movement of backyard abolitionists, empowering individuals to fight human trafficking and slavery in their own locale. The backyard abolitionist contributes his or her unique gifts and passions to make a difference. You should not aspire to become William Wilberforce or Sojourner Truth, but to be yourself.

I was pleased to watch Justin Dillon promote our concept in his new film, Call & Response. When Justin and I went on our 60-city tour of US cities in the Fall of 2007, we realized that our movement would gain dynamism when we handed over tools and got out of the way! Fighting slavery requires local creativity and initiative, not a centralized structure of "experts" who do all the abolitionist work.

One practical outgrowth of this principle, we at Not For Sale began meeting extraordinary leaders wherever we went. We decided to create a network of state directors, an effort to empower local action and decentralize our relationships. The network has taken off, and it grows so quickly it's a challenge for us to update our webpage with new bios and contact details for our Webpage!!! But keep in touch with the site and discover a new wave of local leaders who can help you with your backyard abolitionist activities.

David Batstone

Tuesday, October 14, 2008