President Obama Declares
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
How much is a life worth? Perhaps this is the question we should all be asking ourselves as the worldwide tragedy increases right under our noses. We thought it was gone forever. We thought it was outlawed. We thought humanity had evolved, but it has only gone underground.
There are 27 million people enslaved today; more than at any other time in human history. It seems impossible and beyond belief, but it is true. In a recent proclamation declaring January 2011 as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, President Barack Obama stated:
" I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities."
In response to this call and in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., the United Congregational Church of Tolland has invited Founder and Director of the Emancipation Network, Sarah Symons to be our guest speaker.
Seven years ago, on a business trip to New York, Sarah Symons saw the film that would change her life. The documentary The Day My God Died, which tells the stories of girls as young as 7 who were rescued from the sex trade overseas — and who then risked their lives to help others escape — shocked her. "Before I saw that film, I knew almost nothing about human trafficking," says Sarah, a 45-year-old Massachusetts mom of two. "And I certainly didn't realize the scale of slavery — that it affects millions. As I watched these brave girls, I thought about my own life and my own daughter, and it was unbearable. If the survivors were able to do so much to help, then surely I, who had so many blessings, could do something too."
Sarah was so moved and inspired that she made a commitment to be a source of change and hope for the survivors of human trafficking. She traveled to Nepal to visit a shelter that was featured in the film and knew there was no turning back. While visiting the shelter Sarah discovered a small room piled high with sparkly purses and beaded jewelry, which were being made as part of the informal education program. Well, it was obvious what to do! She brought a few hundred dollars of samples home and showed them to all her friends and family. Her husband John came up with the idea of selling the products at home parties, because this too would raise awareness about human trafficking .
In 2005 Sarah founded The Emancipation Network (TEN), a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery with empowerment - 'slavery-proofing" survivors and high risk communities by offering them education, life-skills and economic alternatives and using the Made By Survivor products to help build the abolition movement in the US. The organization gained national exposure after Lifetime Television featured a miniseries on human trafficking and posted a link to the Emancipation Network on its website as a resource for viewers who wanted to help rescued women. Today, Sarah's organization has partnered with 18 shelters in nine countries, including one in New York, and sells survivors' products on its website, madebysurvivors.com .
On Sunday, January 16th, Sarah Symons, will speak at both the 8:30am and 10am worship services followed by a brunch and slide show presentation at 11:30am to continue the dialogue. Sarah will also bring a number of items made by survivors to support this worthy cause.
On Monday, January 17th, Sarah will offer a similar presentation and awareness opportunity with a coffee at 9am. Pre-registration is advised as this is a rare and important opportunity for education and empowerment.
Please call or email Rev. Judith C. Medeiros at 860-875-4160, ext. 12 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Sarah Symons, TEN and Human Trafficking visit their website at: www.madebysurvivors.com .