Saturday, January 30, 2010

open letter to Martin Luther King

This letter taken from the blog http://humantrafficking.change.org/ is a powerful reminder of how far we have to go and how little change we have actually made.

An Open Letter of Apology to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Dr. King,

Every year on this day we celebrate your birthday. But we also manage to celebrate ourselves in a way. We take a few moments to pat ourselves on the backs and smile at the progress we've made so far. We publish heartfelt quotes from school children about how they strive to model their young lives on your short but powerful one. And we tell ourselves that while we have a long journey ahead, the worst is behind us. Well, Dr. King, I'd like to give you something a little different than the warm fuzzies this year for your birthday. I'd like to give you an apology.

I'm apologizing to you, Dr. King, because we have all oversimplified your message, and we have all missed your main point. Since your death, we have counted the meanest victories for freedom, justice, and equality as progress -- a black CEO, a black Supreme Court Justice, a black Senator, a black President. We have given ourselves credit for killing racism, when we can see it silently settling in public housing projects and public assistance offices around the country. We've told ourselves that the tragedy that befell you couldn't happen today, while we see our President's faith, birth, and integrity questioned because of the color of his skin. But our biggest failure has been our failure to understand that your message wasn't one of the polite and patient incremental progress of justice we have lived out -- it was one of revolution.

When, over 40 years ago, you announced to the world that you had a dream, it was not a dream of new individual accomplishments, but one of systemic community change. You dreamed of a world where the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners could sit down to the table of brotherhood together. Instead, we have given you a world where slavery still exists and has spread to enslave people of every race, religion, and country of origin. You dreamed of a world where little black boys and girls and little white boys and girls could join hands together. We've given you a world where girls, and especially black girls, are being sold into prostitution as children. You dreamed of a world where your children could be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. We've given you a world with a black man leading the most powerful country, yes, but where racism and the slavery which thrives on racism still pours through the thin levies we have put up against it. We have given you a few laudable individual accomplishments, but not the real change you asked for.

Last night, while the people of Haiti, descended from African slaves, starved and wailed and died, American celebrities held the Golden Globes award ceremony. In solidarity with Haiti, they wore ribbons. But if everyone in that room had made that ribbon their only piece of jewelry -- had taken off their diamonds and watches and put them in a collection plate for Haiti -- such wealth could feed thousands for months. But the Haitian people couldn't eat those ribbons, Dr. King, nor use them to rebuild their city. And no one seemed to get that. It was not just those celebrities last night who failed you, but all of us who have refused to give up something for the cause of justice. I'm sorry.

I hope you have not given up on us, Dr. King. I believe we can strive to model our lives on your philosophy, with more than just teens' quotes and individual victories and warm fuzzy feelings. I believe we can do the hard parts -- sacrifice, work hard, fight for justice. And I hope next year I have a better birthday gift to offer: the beginning of the end of modern-day slavery and the continued unfolding of your dream.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

christmas program

here is the bugs christmas program in full. i know only family will watch this but here you go :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

update

update on the bug
  • she has learned how to snap. she does it all day long!
  • she loves to watch word world over and over again and every time they "build a word" she dances and snaps to the beat.
  • she likes to tell me a secret: she cups her hands over my ears but then puts her ear to my ear and talks off to the side. its funny!
  • she still loves shoes. every time we go to the mall or store or whatever we have to talk before we get there, that we will not be getting any shoes this time.
  • she still loves black beans. she could eat them anytime of the day. she also really likes green beans, the other day we saw a commercial that had green beans in it after 8 at night and she said she wanted some green beans. i said now? she said yes, so she ate them cold in a bowl as a snack.
  • her favorite color is purple.
  • when i make oatmeal in the morning, she says, i dont like oatmeal, i dont even want to smell it.
  • when she gets mad i make her take a deep breath and say "im not gonna freak out".
  • she loves showers.
  • she is a PJ freak, thanks to my mom she must have a gazillion pairs, but in all seriousness bug would wear PJs all day every day if i let her. if you see her in PJs when she shouldnt be, just know i chose to pick my battles that day.
  • she hates for me to fix her hair. i can tell her curly hair and i are going to go to blows often as she gets older.
  • i think she is starting to feel remorse. sometimes after we have a disagreement or she gets in trouble later that day or night she will say all on her own. mommy im sorry i got mad at you at the mall or the store or where ever we were. its precious.
  • she rode her horse all by herself the other day with only her ob leading the reigns, no one was holding on to her! she has her own saddle that is just her size
  • she loves her cousin emma. it has been great that we have been able to see her a lot lately!
  • whenever we watch a video now like a princess one or incredibles or even Olivia, she always picks a character and says, "thats me".
  • she is fascinated with the remote control. she likes to turn the volume up and down and she likes to pause, rewind and fast forward her videos. we often "discuss" the volume she chooses bc she likes it "SUPER LOUD."
anyway thats all for now. enjoy these few pics of her on her horse, with her cousin emma, her ob and her just being her.








































































Wednesday, January 13, 2010

haiti and humantraffiking

a friend of mind shared this with me today, in light of what is happening in haiti, lets pray for all of those sweet children who will now be even more vulnerable to traffickers.


How to Buy a Child in 10 Hours

One Reporter's Journey Reveals An Epidemic of Child Slavery in Haiti
By DAN HARRIS
July 8, 2008—

This deeply unsettling experiment starts on a typical Monday morning on Manhattan's leafy Upper West Side, where commuters stroll by Starbucks and Central Park.
At 7:10 a.m., I'm off to see how long it takes to buy a child slave.
It's 45 minutes to Kennedy Airport and an hour or so wait in the terminal, then a 3½-hour flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A band greets the flight.
By the time my team and I have collected our luggage, gone through immigration and customs, and are loaded into our vehicles, it's about 3:15 p.m.
As we leave the airport, two things become immediately apparent: Port-au-Prince is an amazing, vivid place, and it's also extremely poor. The U.S. State Department warns Americans against visiting here. United Nations peacekeepers patrol the roads while we drive with our own security team: two armed Haitian men in SUVs.

I Would Like to Get a Child
By 4:45 p.m., I'm poolside at one of the city's few upscale hotels. I'm wearing a hidden camera built into the strap of a bike messenger-style bag that's around my neck. There's another hidden camera in a leather satchel on the table, right next to the fruit plate and Evian water. My colleagues are manning cameras in hotel rooms overlooking the pool.
Our security guards are sitting discretely nearby.
That's when the man with whom I've arranged a meeting shows up.
He says he's a former member of parliament and that he has connections. In broad daylight, with hotel waiters walking by, he doesn't even flinch when I make a horrific request.
"If I would like to get a child to live with me and take care of me," I ask. "Could you do that?"
"Yes," he says. "I can."
He's speaking in Creole, the most prevalent Haitian language. The man doing the translation, who has set up the meeting, works for us (unbeknownst to the slave trafficker).
The trafficker assures me he's done this sort of transaction many times before.
"A girl or a boy?" he asks.
"A girl probably," I say.
"How old?"
"Maybe 10 or 11."
"Not a problem."
He says he can get me an 11-year-old girl, although he suggests that a 15-year-old might be better, because she'd be more "developed."
I'm thinking: I can't believe I'm having this conversation.
"And this is OK?" I ask. "I won't have any trouble from their parents or anything like that?"
"No, you won't have any problems with their parents."
"Why not?"
"When I give you the child, I will train it for you."
I'm not exactly sure what that means.

A Successful Negotiation
"I'm a little nervous." I say. "I just want to make sure that this is OK, that I'm not going to get in trouble, that this will be smooth, that you've done this before."
"I guarantee my service," says the trafficker, grinning. "I can get you your girl as early as tomorrow."
And now, the negotiation begins.
"So how much will it cost me to get a child?" I ask.
"The last one I gave was $300."
Trying to test the value of human life, I push a little.
"I have a friend who got one for $50."
"No," he says.
"What about $100?"
"$150," he offers.
I accept.
And there it is. It's about 5 p.m. Roughly 10 hours after leaving my office in New York City, I have successfully negotiated to buy another human being -- an 11-year-old girl, whose value is set at just $150.
As we conclude our meeting, I want to make sure the trafficker does not act on my request. I ask him to wait a day before doing anything. I assure him I'll call him tomorrow with my final answer. He agrees.

Offering Fake Papers and a 'Pretty' Child
And then, to show that this grotesque sort of deal-making is not a fluke, I have a second meeting, with another trafficker -- a beefy guy with the air of a street thug.
This second trafficker is asking a much steeper price for an 11-year-old girl: $10,000.
"It's something definitive," explains our translator. "After the sale, he doesn't mind what happens to the kid."
"So for $10,000, I can have the child and do anything I want to do is what he's saying?" I ask.
"Yeah, definitely."
As further enticement, the trafficker says he can even get me fake papers that would allow me to take this child back to the U.S. with me. Both traffickers say they have experience providing children to Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, officials have no idea how often this sort of transaction transpires. As the slightly menacing slave trafficker describes this girl he's promising to provide, I hear him use the French word "belle." French, along with Creole, is one of Haiti's official languages.
"Did he use the word 'belle'? Like, pretty girl?" I ask the translator.
"Yeah."
"So he's saying this would be a pretty child?"
"Yeah."
"Do you think he's hinting that the child would be a partner of some sort?"
"Yeah, it's up to you because that kid is yours."
Once again, I can't believe I'm having this conversation -- sitting in the sunshine so casually transacting such diabolical business. Just to make sure I fully understand the offer on the table, I ask, "If I pay $10,000 I essentially own this child?"
"Yeah, it's yours. You do whatever you want."
I've heard enough. I conclude the meeting, once again making sure the trafficker doesn't actually act on my request.
But now comes the craziest part of this wildly disturbing day.
Two waiters sitting nearby call me over. They say they've heard my conversations. At first I think they're going to yell at me or something. I'm bracing for shame. Instead, the waiters offer to sell me a child.
"So you're saying if I want to get a child to live with me, you can help me?" I ask. "Yes," says one of the waiters. "I give you my telephone also."
"About what age?" asks the other watier.
"Maybe 10, 11 years old."
"10 or 11?"
"Yeah," I say. "A girl."
"Ok," says the first waiter, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Ok. I'll help you."

The 'Restaveks'
Having illustrated how horrendously easy it is to buy a child slave in Haiti, let's consider something exponentially more awful: the real scandal here in Haiti is that children are usually just given away.
There are an estimated 300,000 child slaves in Haiti according to UNICEF. This staggering statistic is discussed in E. Benjamin Skinner's "A Crime So Monstrous," a new book about the enormous and often underreported problem of modern day slavery. Skinner has come to Haiti with us. He was the one who gave us the idea to see how long it would take to leave New York City and buy a child slave.
They're called "restaveks" -- a Creole term that means "stay-with." But these children often do more than just "stay with" families; they are usually forced to work from dawn until dusk, and are often underfed, beaten and sexually abused.
To meet some of these restaveks, my team and I traveled into the claustrophobic back alleys of one of Haiti's worst slums, Solino.
Here we find Onise, an achingly beautiful 8-year-old with haunted eyes. Her parents, who live in the countryside, are so poor they simply gave Onise away to a slightly less poor family in Port-au-Prince.
Her owners promised her parents they would pay for Onise's education. But every day, when the other children in the tiny, one-room hovel where the owners live head off to school, Onise stays behind to do housework and run errands.
When we get her alone, she reluctantly tells us about her life.
"When was the last time you talked to your parents?" I ask.
"No," she says. Our translator expands: "She never talks to them."
"Do you miss your parents?"
"Yes," she says, in a nearly inaudible voice.
This child seems dead inside. The insides of her forearms are covered in scars.
"Do they hit you a lot?"
"Yes," she says.
"When you dream, when you think about the things you want to do with your life -- your hopes -- what do you think about?"
"I want to drive a car," she says.

The Promise of School
It is a bleak irony that Haiti is crawling with child slaves. This, after all, is the only nation in modern history to be founded as the result of a slave revolt, in 1804.
It's also a place where parents clearly take great pride in their children's appearance, dolling them up in elaborate school uniforms every weekday morning. Parents here also make massive economic sacrifices to send kids to school, in this country where, for the most part, there are no public schools.
Slave traffickers use Haiti's poverty and lack of opportunity to their advantage.
"They dangle like a diamond necklace the promise of school," says Skinner. As he explains, Haiti's system of child slavery began generations ago. Poor families from the countryside would give their children to wealthy families in the city. The children would do domestic work, but they would also be fed, clothed and educated. It was a sort of social compact.
Even though the system has now morphed into something grotesque, traffickers exploit the false, residual glow of altruism.
"You talk to the traffickers about this," says Skinner, "and they'll often say, 'Well, I'm doing a service to the family that's giving up this child.'"
This bogus sheen of charity is perhaps why we are able to get slave owners to talk to us on camera. (Perhaps it's also because having a slave is so commonplace as to be almost entirely uncontroversial here.)
We meet Onita Aristide in a shantytown precariously perched over a ravine filled with trash and also wild pigs and goats. Aristide is a mother of two who sells sandals in the local market. For four months she's owned a "restavek" nicknamed Ti Soeur (Creole for "little sister.") As usual, Ti Soeur comes from a poor family in the country and spends her days here in the city doing forced labor. She sleeps on the floor of Onita Aristide's tiny home.
"Do you think she has a better life with you than she would have with her parents?" I ask Aristide.
"Yes," she says.
"Why?"
"Because her family is poor and cannot afford to support her."
There are a bunch of hard questions I want to ask this woman, for example, why doesn't she send the girl to school? But the scars on Ti Soeur's arms suggest I should tread lightly.
Knowing Aristide doesn't speak any English, I broach the topic with our translator. "I don't want to push her so hard that she gets angry and takes it out on the kid. Do you think I'm correct?"
"You're correct," he says.

Ti Souer's Hope
We follow Ti Soeur as she goes to fetch water from the communal well. This gives us a chance to ask her questions without her owners hearing.
She's a bright-eyed 11-year-old with short hair. When I ask her questions about the marks on her arm, she says, "The lady did it to me with an electric wire."
As I later learn, this appears to be a standard punishment -- whipping restaveks with the sort of electric cord you might you use to plug in a toaster or a laptop.
"Why would she do that to you?" I ask.
"Because one of the kids in the neighborhood came to see [her] in the house," the translator says.
"So you're not allowed to have any friends?"
"No."
"Do you have any time during the day where you can play, like a normal kid?"
"No. We don't play."
The translator explains, "If she doesn't go and pick up the water, they beat her up. If she doesn't sweep, beat her up."
By the time we visit Ti Soeur at 10 a.m., she's already cooked, cleaned, prepared the family children for school.
"Do you think the situation you're in right now is unfair?" I ask.
"Yes."
"Do you think you'll ever get out of this situation?"
"Yes."
"Do you have hope?"
"Yes."
"Good," I say.
After meeting Ti Souer, we decided to go find her parents, to get a sense of why they would give their child away.

'My Husband Forced Me'
Following a lead, we drive out of the throbbing, chaotic city, hours away, into the lush countryside. It's beautiful out here. We see clouds resting lazily in green valleys. We see women on their way to market, carrying impossibly large loads of goods on their heads.
But you can't miss the deprivation: It's everywhere. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere -- the result of decades of bad, brutal, kleptocratic leadership, and also, many believe, negative interference from outside powers, including the United States.
Haiti's poverty is on full display as we pull up to the house where Ti Soeur's mother lives. It's a shack, housing three families. Nine children live here, including one who we see using a condom as a toy balloon.
Ti Soeur's mother is named Lita Bellevue. After a few pleasantries, I ask her the obvious question.
"Can you tell me how it happened that you gave your daughter up?"
"My husband forced me to do it," she says.
She tells us that Ti Soeur's birth father is dead. Her new husband, who is abusive, forced her to give the child away, she says, because they are too poor to take care of her. However, the husband does not seem willing to part with the two young children he and Lita have had together.
"Can you imagine living without these children?" I ask.
"I cannot live without them," he says, flashing a nervous, toothless grin.
Lita says she's heard rumors that Ti Soeur is being abused by her owners.
"I hear she's being cut all over her arms and her head," she says. "I try very hard to rescue the child, to go see the child, but my husband won't let me."
"When you think about you daughter living this way, how hard is it for you?"
"I feel sick inside," she says.
To help us better understand why parents make these sorts of decisions, we go see Jean-Etienne Charles, a local Pentecostal pastor who preaches against child slavery. He's got a broad, happy face and a thriving church, complete with a school for local kids.
"I do not think that it is because they do not love the child," says Charles of parents who send their kids into servitude. "They love the kids; they love them. But because they think that they cannot take care of them, they turn them to another person."
As a sign of how deeply entrenched this practice is, it turns out that the pastor's family has a girl living with them whom they took on to do domestic work. They have since legally adopted her and are putting her through school, as an example to the families who abuse child slaves.
"I believe that people who do that should be thrown into jail," says Charles. "But the government is not doing anything about it, so that is why the Haitians are doing it."
Now that we've learned that Ti Soeur is stuck between slavery and an abusive, unhappy home, we decide to try our luck with the Haitian government. We go to the Department of Social Services and meet with several senior officials. We show them videotape of Ti Soeur's scars.
"This is unacceptable," says one official. She promises to act as early as possible. We leave feeling confident that Ti Soeur's fate may soon change.
But within days, government officials stop returning our phone calls, and Ti Soeur's case takes some surprising turns.

A Wrenching Scene
We learn that Bellevue, Ti Soeur's mother, has done something brave and extraordinary: she has forced her abusive husband to go and retrieve Ti Soeur from slavery.
With the government seemingly missing in action, we hook up with a social services organization affiliated with the American-based group Beyond Borders.
They work with mother and daughter, reunited as a result of Bellevue's courageous insistence, to get Ti Soeur accepted into a clean, cheerful orphanage.
But it's a mixed blessing for the former child slave.
Her mother is being kicked out of her house, for the crime of having spoken out to her husband. Rather than take Ti Soeur with her into an uncertain, and potentially homeless future, she decided to leave her at the orphanage, where she's safe.
As they're forced to part again, it's a wrenching scene. Ti Soeur is sobbing. She throws herself on the ground, inconsolable.
As we leave her, Ti Soeur seems traumatized, confused and lonely. But she's also, finally, in a place where she'll be fed, educated, safe and free from slavery.
For Haiti's child slaves, this may be as close to a happy ending as you'll find.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures
Source: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=5326508

Monday, January 11, 2010

a special hatred

I received this email from a friend who knows that I am going on a trip to find out how my church can partner with other organizations that are fighting human trafficking.

This is a devotion from Stasi Eldredge

A Special Hatred
The assault on femininity—its long history, its utter viciousness—cannot be understood apart from the spiritual forces of evil we are warned against in the Scriptures. This is not to say that men (and women, for they, too, assault women) have no accountability in their treatment of women. Not at all. It is simply to say that no explanation for the assault upon Eve and her daughters is sufficient unless it opens our eyes to the Prince of Darkness and his special hatred of femininity.

Turn your attention again to the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. Notice—who does the Evil One go after? Who does Satan single out for his move against the human race? He could have chosen Adam . . . but he didn’t. Satan went after Eve. He set his sights on her. Have you ever wondered why? It might have been that he, like any predator, chose what he believed to be the weaker of the two. There is some truth to that. He is utterly ruthless. But we believe there is more. Why does Satan make Eve the focus of his assault on humanity?

Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world to God. He hates it with a jealousy we can only imagine.

And there is more. The Evil One also hates Eve because she gives life. Women give birth, not men. Women nourish life. And they also bring life into the world soulfully, relationally, spiritually—in everything they touch. Satan is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). He brings death. His is a kingdom of death. And thus Eve is his greatest human threat, for she brings life. She is a lifesaver and a lifegiver. Eve means “life” or “life-producer.”

Put those two things together—that Eve incarnates the Beauty of God and she gives life to the world. His bitter heart cannot bear it. He assaults her with a special hatred. Do you begin to see it?

(Captivating , 82–85)

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. You may already be aware of this issue or this may be the 1st time you are reading about it. But if you are anything like me you are disgusted by this and want to do something about it. I hope that you will read this, get mad and do something!

WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

Human trafficking is the modern day practice of slavery. Also known as trafficking in persons, human trafficking comprises the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, based on the recruitment, harboring, and transportation of people solely for the purpose of exploitation. Every year traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits at the expense of victimizing millions of people around the world.

Victims of human trafficking are people forced or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking is widespread in variety of situations that encompass domestic servitude and small-scale labor operations, to large-scale operations such as farms, sweatshops, and major multinational corporations. Sex trafficking is one of the most lucrative sectors regarding the illegal trade in people, and involves any form of sexual exploitation in prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, and the commercial sexual abuse of children. Under international law, any sexually exploited child is considered a trafficking victim, even if no force or coercion is present.

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Traffickers exploit men, women and children through labor and sex trafficking operations.


An estimated 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked annually in the United States alone. The number of US citizens trafficked within the country is even higher. An estimated 200,000 American children are at high risk for trafficking into the sex industry each year.

Despite this staggering reality, governments around the world are only beginning to address the problem. In most countries, traffickers operate with almost total impunity even in the most severe cases. A lack of awareness in the public exacerbates inaction on the part of authorities. Take a stand and join us in leading the anti-trafficking movement forward to end the modern practice of slavery. Learn more and get involved by signing up to receive regular updates about human trafficking, Polaris Project, and ways to help fight modern-day slavery. We need your support to help end the exploitation of victims of human trafficking.


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Most victims lack social networks, making it very difficult for them to escape the cycle of oppression.

UNDERSTANDING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

MYTH #1: Human trafficking is the forced transportation of people across borders.

Reality: Forced transportation in the absence of slavery-like labor or commercial sexual exploitation is usually considered the crime of kidnapping. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery through labor or commercial sexual exploitation, and does not require transportation to occur, though transportation may be involved.

MYTH #2: Trafficking victims are only foreign nationals.

Reality: Both the U.N. Protocol and U.S. federal law use definitions of trafficking in persons that do not require crossing of international or state borders. Many trafficked persons are victims of internal or domestic trafficking - trafficking within the borders of a single country, and are themselves nationals of that country.

MYTH #3: Poverty and inequality are the causes of human trafficking.

Reality: While poverty and inequality are important factors in making certain populations more vulnerable to being trafficked, they are not the primary cause of trafficking. Trafficking is a criminal industry driven by 1) the ability to make large profits due to high demand, and 2) negligible-to-low risk of prosecution. As long as demand is unchecked and the risks for traffickers are low, trafficking will exist regardless of other contributing factors.

Blaming poverty and inequality alone is not only inaccurate and disheartening, it tends to deflect blame from the key actors that perpetuate trafficking - the traffickers themselves and their customers.

MYTH #4: There's not much I can do about such a huge issue.

Reality: Together - we can make a huge difference! We were founded by regular community members like yourself, as were historic organizations like the Underground Railroad. Organizations like Polaris Project live and breathe based on the contributions and dedication of community members. Making a financial donation, a gift of time, goods, or services, or helping to raise awareness are some of the things collectively that help victims everyday. Please join us and be welcomed into the growing movement to combat slavery today!

This information is from the Polaris Project.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

faces


here are some recent favs of bug and her faces :)