How to "Donate Your Birthday" through Facebook Fundraising

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Something incredible has been happening this last year. 


Thousands of dollars have been raised on one particular social media platform. WAY more than we had ever expected through this avenue.  And we can't help but feel overwhelming gratitude for those who've started fundraisers for their birthday on behalf of Free The Girls and their friends, family, and community that have given towards those fundraisers. It's super simple, yet deeply impactful. In fact, it goes with one of the themes of our organization:

Something simple can be extraordinary. 

We all know human trafficking can be overwhelming. But we truly believe that every single person who desires to CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. 

This simple tool that Facebook has given us is one of those ways, so we wanted to share a few easy steps to creating your facebook fundraiser. 

SIX EASY STEPS:

1) Go to your Facebook account (or create one here!

2) Go to your 'home' page, and look on the left side column. You should see the 'fundraiser' option under "Create" at the bottom. Click on "fundraiser" and Facebook will walk you through.

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3) Pick your charity (like Free The Girls: Fight Human Trafficking or any other of the incredible organizations out there that you'd like to raise money for!)

4) Set your fundraising goal and time-frame. We've seen many successful fundraisers at $200 or even $500 or more! Set something that you feel good about and see where it goes! You can always raise the amount if you particularly like to challenge your friends.

5) Invite people on your friends' list and engage with them! This is key.  Invite, invite, invite!  Share often on your timeline: remember that not everyone will see something when you post just once. While some people may be hesitant to invite people on their friends list, remember you're giving them an opportunity to participate in something large and global.  No problem if they are unable or unwilling to participate at this time - you've at least extended an invitation.  

6) Thank people as they donate and watch numbers go up!  Seriously, these people are donating  to FTG because of YOU - because they love you, they appreciate you, they think you're the bee's knees (and we do, too!).

And then, have fun!! 

We've also created a Fundraising Toolkit to help you with your efforts! Just click the button below to access that resource. 

Be encouraged knowing you're truly making a difference in the lives of survivors!

As one of the survivors in our program says;

"You can't get tired of giving because we have already demonstrated what we can do when you give...it's really good!"

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We'll say it again and again. THANK YOU so much for your support of Free The Girls, and these incredible women!! We're so so grateful for all of you Everyday Abolitionists willing to step in and make a difference in the lives of survivors. 

 

Thank you, friends, for being amazing Everyday Abolitionists!!! 


**If you don't have a Facebook profile and just want to create a birthday fundraiser without it, we have an option for you! 

Everyday Abolitionist Q + A with Rickie Youngquist

Our co-founder, Kimba Langas, met Rickie through an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. He was one of the first people to be involved in our first big shipment of bras to Mozambique, where our other co-founder Dave was living with his family and working with survivors of human trafficking.  Rickie was also was one of the very first Julietta Award winners at our annual fundraiser, BRAlapalooza.  You can see an overview of the this story (with Rickie included!) from our humble beginnings via CNN : Mozambique or Bust

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Q. Tell us about your heart for justice and what you decided to do about it.

A. I would say it's more of a heart for freedom. Freedom for these girls who have had their lives literally taken from them. I do whatever I can and whatever I feel God leads me to.

Q. Where are you from and what are you passionate about? 

A. I am from Longmont, Co. The first and foremost thing I'm passionate about is my relationship with Jesus Christ...everything else comes from that place. Next is my wife, my kids, and the girls who've gotten caught up in sexual exploitation.  As an OTR truck driver, I often wondered why God gave me this ungratifying job that took me away from my wife and kids. Then I found Truckers Against Trafficking and got on their database...that's where my involvement began.

Q. What inspired you to connect with Free The Girls and how has this work impacted you? 

Kimba (co-founder of Free The Girls) contacted me after she got my information from Truckers Against Trafficking. I believe it was God's divine timing, as I had just contacted Truckers Against Trafficking only a few days before Kimba called them. She was looking for someone to help haul some 24,000 bras to Chicago so they could get to Mozambique to the women in the program. I jumped on the opportunity and i would do it again without question. 

I can't express what Free The Girls means to me.

I'm proud to be a part of something that God is using to change so many lives. I always tell Kimba, I wish I could do so much more. 

Q. If you could inspire others to become everyday abolitionists too, what advice would you share? 

First I would say, become educated about it. Secondly, I would say, if you're a Christian, make sure this is where God wants you.  Depending on how far a person becomes involved in this fight against human trafficking, it can be very hard. Listen to God and stay close to Him.  

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Thank you Rickie, for being a trucker against trafficking! Thank you for being willing to give your time and talents to helping the women in our program.

Thank you for being an Everyday Abolitionist! 

 

International Women's Day - and Honoring Resilience in the Face of Adversity

It’s International’s Women’s Day!

Truthfully, I had never heard of such a thing until we were living in Uganda.  Then the men showed up with flowers or gifts for their wives or girlfriends, sons made little gifts for their mamas, and women were “forbidden” to cook or clean that day.  I think I actually caught a free ride from a boda boda man (motorcycle taxi driver) on one International Women’s Day.  So needless to say, seeing the women I knew and worked with having gifts showered upon them and men washing dishes in a rather patriarchal culture, I was all about it.

International Women’s Day is a day set aside to celebrate and commemorate women’s rights across the globe. 

It’s a day to remember that all human beings, regardless of the culture or society they are born into or what gender they are, have inherent value - equal value - to any other human on the planet.  And that is something worth celebrating and taking a moment to remember.

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In our staff meeting this week, one staff member mentioned the resilience of the women we work with or the girls and women we hear and read stories about. 

Talk about resilience.

One repatriated Ugandan woman, a sweet 20-something year old who had been duped into thinking she had a job in Asia before realizing she had actually been trafficked, once said to me, “Look how blessed I am!  I came home!”  I was stunned.  In my mind, a completely appropriate response would be, “Why in the world did that happen to me?!  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this?”  But no.  She beamed and giggled and taught me more about grace and perspective in those two sentences than a lifetime of reading inspirational quotes.

With that being said, we decided that today would be the day to make the announcement that we have phased out our Ugandan program.  We had the absolute honor of serving 33 women in that country during our FTG UG program’s existence.  Two are currently in university, several others have become certified in various skills including catering and hairdressing, and others have their own shops around Kampala.  Some, admittedly, are still struggling and some are back with other organizations for additional assistance. 

It was a difficult decision.  The import laws in Uganda changed several times after we launched, making our program there outside our typical model.  Over the past two years, it became our most expensive program while simultaneously becoming our smallest.  It was with heavy hearts, especially on my end having lived in Uganda and begun the implementation process of FTG there, that we informed Nivas, our Program Manager in Uganda, of the Board’s decision last summer.  We had 6 months of phasing out, figuring out how to set the women up well and prepare them for graduation.  And if there were two things that kept us from being absolutely heart-broken, it was that we have incredible partners who are still walking alongside these women and that these women are survivors.

Being a woman, being a human being for that matter, is not always a perfect road.  It’s full of bumps, traffic jams, potholes, and the occasional dead-end.  We may have detours or might get lost, but the road is always leading us forward. 

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And we believe this of our Ugandan women.  When I asked one of our ladies what she would say to our FTG supporters (you!) if she could say anything, her response was;

“I thank them for improving my life.  They have improved my life a lot more.  They have impacted me with knowledge, selling knowledge.  I thank them so much.” 

Another spoke of her dedication to work:

“Because women, we have to work, we have to work as women so that we are not violated…we should have our own thing that we do so we can have income, so we can sustain a life, a [good] life.” 

Here’s another: “African women having a good job makes her fulfill her dreams in life.  It helps her to improve on her stands of living or solve whatever problem which comes across within her family.”

These are women who have walked in true freedom, who have tasted economic opportunity and will not be satisfied with dependency.  And we choose to honor them today.

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Coincidentally, or perhaps not, as I opened WhatsApp on my phone to ask Nivas if she had something she wanted to contribute to this specific blogpost, I saw her previous message to me.  It was a chain-letter of sorts, for women.  The last part read, “I work 24 hours a day.  I am a mum.  I’m a wife. I’m a daughter, I’m a daughter-in-law.  I’m an alarm clock.  I’m a cook.  I’m a maid.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a waitress.  I’m a nanny.  I’m a nurse.  I’m a handywoman.  I’m a security officer.  I’m a counselor.  I’m a comforter.  I don’t get holidays.  I don’t get sick leave.  I don’t get a day off.  I worth through day and night.  I’m on call all hours.  I AM A WOMAN.”  These women know their worth and value and the depth and breadth of their work.

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So help us honor them today.  Pray for them.  Leave encouraging words here that I’ll send over.  We may have phased out FTG UG, but these women will forever be a part of the FTG family.  We have those 33 names stored in our laptops and hearts.  We will visit them, text and email them, and continue to celebrate them even when things become difficult – because we know what they’re made of. 

We know they are survivors of the utmost degree.  We know of their resilience.

To all you women out there, no matter your age or color or ethnicity or language or income or relationship status or weight or size or anything else – you are valuable. 

You are equal. 

You have a seat at the table. 

You are worth loving. 

You deserve freedom and laughter and choices and to be treated with dignity. 

And we see you.

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With Love from Courtney and the FTG Team

Gearing Up For Our 2nd National Bra Drive

 Happy National Bra Drive month!!!

Happy National Bra Drive month!!!

March 14-31st we are having our National Bra Drive.  All across the country, Everyday Abolitionists will be collecting bras at their work, their schools, their churches, their homes, their businesses to help bring true freedom to survivors of sex trafficking around the world.

We're just under two weeks away from the launch which means that though it's coming up quickly, there is still plenty of time to organize a Bra Drive in your community!

Here are some ideas our staff members are putting into action:

Abby, Creative Director - Abby is preparing for the grand opening of her new yoga studio in upstate New York.  She's collecting bras as a part of this exciting weekend and will be a permanent drop-off location!

Courtney, Executive Director - Courtney has just moved back east over the last few months to an area in east Tennessee that has never held a Bra Drive before! So she's gotten several local businesses involved across the Tri-Cities to be drop-offs during this two week period.  She's going to try to get the word out to local radio and television stations as well.

Pam, Inventory Manager - Not only does she oversee every single bra that is donated to Free The Girls (all 18,000 a month!!!), she's actually collecting bras solo during this time!  She's already known as the Bra Lady around Indiana so her car will most likely become her personal drop-off location!

Selah, Operations Manager - Selah has coordinated with Haven Collective, a shared workspace in Columbus, Ohio (where she occasionally sets up shop for staff meetings or to answer your emails!).  

What are some others doing?  College students are collecting bras in conjunction with faculty or departments on campus; Title Nine EdinaJournelle boutiques, and other businesses are offering discounts on their products for people who donate bras; individuals are making their apartment complexes drop-offs; and churches and small groups are using our Prayer Guide alongside gathering bras.  

Maybe you've just held a Bra Drive recently - that's ok! You're still important in this! Download and print this sign, shoot a quick video telling us what freedom means to you and why you are passionate about justice, and tag us on Facebook or Instagram!

If you need more ideas on how to organize a Bra Drive in your community or sphere of influence, emails us at info@freethegirls.org  Otherwise, print this drop-off sign, gather your gal pals, talk to your school clubs or sports team, connect with local businesses and be a part of a national campaign to get economic opportunity into the hands of a survivor of sex trafficking!

Once your Bra Drive is complete, print out this Shipping Label, mark that these bras are for the National Bra Drive (because, bless our hearts, we're going to try to actually get a tally this year), and send them straight to our Collection Site!  If you'd like to collect bucks along with the bras, you can either put a jar out and collect old-style or fundraise online, either through Facebook or through the FTG website!

As always, we thank you for all your "support"! ;) 

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Encouragement for the Justice-Oriented and Mercy-Carriers

We are privileged to know, work with, and do life with incredible people all around the globe. This helps fuel our passion when occasionally we hit a wall of negativity or receive discouraging updates or are faced with a situation we can't do anything to help.  It also reminds us that we aren't alone.

Sometimes when you've become aware of the very real issues of injustice, whether that's around the world or in your own neighborhood, and you feel compelled to speak and act to rectify in some small way, it can be lonely.  Sometimes you feel like the odd person out.  (Trust us, dinner party introductions can sometimes fall flat: "What do you do?"  "Me? Oh, I collect bras for survivors of sex trafficking to help lower their rates of being re-victimized due to poverty."  It can either make way for incredible conversations - or create very awkward silences.)  Sometimes you feel as if people are sick of you always suggesting the fair-trade coffee, refusing to buy certain brands that have a high slavery footprint, or talking about depressing statistics.

We get it.

But we also know that turning a blind eye isn't the answer.  Once you know, you can't unknow.  You can't bury your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.  You feel the need to stand up, speak up, and act.  And we are here to encourage you that you are not alone in this.  We are here to remind you that you have a family, a people, a tribe, a group right here doing this with you.

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One of those amazing people we know is Tanya Martineau, an incredible humanitarian photographer and videographer who can capture the most horrific circumstances with dignity and compassion.  She just recently returned from documenting the current plight of the Rohingyan people, a people group currently facing genocide.  Between sharing stories that had members of our staff shedding tears, she posted an incredible call, a call to action, a call for people like you and like us for whom justice beats in our hearts and compels us in our everyday walking-around life:


"You don’t belong.” Words laced with hatred and brutality.
There is an evil in this world and my heart beats to the sound of justice.... Not the angry, clenched fist type of justice. The one that blows the trumpet to a cry for healing, reconciliation and righteousness.
Who gives the right to label the worth of a soul while dehumanize solely based on arbitrary lines and religion? Murder, rape and torture plague bloody hands in the name of violence, greed and lust. Ethnic cleansing justified by “truth” bred in poison.
I call forth the trumpet blowers, the peace makers, the peace keepers, the pioneers, the strategists, the humanitarians to restore the dignity of the oppressed. Raise your weapons. Not the weapons that draw blood. No, no, raise the sword that exposes and cuts thru lies that have drenched a people in the depravity of brokenness. The shield that defends humanity and not self imposed rights.
The feet that race towards restoration instead of flee from persecution. Let dry bones awaken an army of voices that loose the chains of injustice.
Arise and shine Mercy Carriers, for your light has come to breathe life into the depravity of humankind.
 Tanya Martineau on the job with Prospect Arts. Photographed by Nihab Rahman

Tanya Martineau on the job with Prospect Arts. Photographed by Nihab Rahman

We love highlighting Everyday Abolitionists like Tanya and others who inspire us with their creativity and passion for making a lasting impact on the issue of exploitation, human trafficking and human rights.  We'd love to hear YOUR stories!  Do you know someone who represents an #EverydayAbolitionist?  We'd love to know.  In a few weeks we'll be raising a collective voice for #MyFreedomDay, which is a wonderful way to spread the inspiration with your friends and followers on social media.  More on that soon, so check back here.

Remember this:

You are not alone in your passion for global justice.  You are not alone in the stories and photos of hurting humans breaking your heart.  It can feel like a lot, but, Mercy Carriers, arise and shine.  We are in this together.