Everyday Abolitionists / Thoughts from our Staff

 

Hello from the Free The Girls Staff!

January is Human trafficking awareness month, and We fully and whole-heartedly believe that each of us has a part to play in eradicating this issue.  

We wanted to take a moment to share a little about our hearts and what inspires us to not only do this work with Free The Girls, but to be abolitionists in our everyday lives.

Thanks for being here! 

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Courtney Skiera-Vaughn, Executive Director: 

I believe in the work of Free The Girls because I have seen how economic empowerment changes the trajectory of a woman and her family's lives! I have survivors of sex trafficking amongst my friends, amongst my heroes, and I think striving and working for freedom is one of the most noble things I can do with my life.

What brought you to the issue of human trafficking? The overwhelmingness of it all - I knew I just had to do something.

What is something simple you do that impacts the world? I donate bras! ;) I also research my purchases and try to buy fair-trade and slave-free as much as possible.  And I try to educate myself and engage in meaningful conversations with others that are willing to learn.  The great thing is we ALL have a part to play in making the world a better place.

What would you say to someone who wants to involved in the work of changing the face of modern day slavery?  Learn.  Read, discuss, ask questions, and volunteer.  Get your hands dirty after you've educated yourself on the issue. 

I would also say that we need YOU in this work.  YOU have a particular set of skills and passions and talents that are needed in changing the world for the better.  Don't think you haven't anything to contribute.  Come join.

Pam Gumns, Inventory Manager : 

 As the Free The Girls Inventory Manager, it’s my responsibility to maintain oversight for the processing of all bra donations and the shipping of bras to our overseas programs.  I depend on a bevy of volunteers as we currently receive around 18,000 bras per month! My church, Duneland Community Church in Chesterton, Indiana, donates space to receive and store all those bras. Our small church is totally committed to the cause and I am fortunate to live in community with others who care about fighting trafficking in big and small ways. 

As an individual I try to live as though my decisions make a difference – because they do!  Here are some ways I am involved: I believe that prayer changes things and changes us, so I pray regularly for Free The Girls, those in our program, and those enslaved around the world. 

I use my unique voice to educate, encourage others, and spread the word,

 even if it's just sharing the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number (888-373-7888).  Labor and sex trafficking are related so I use my buying power to make informed decisions about the products I buy.  Are they made slave-free? I check slaveryfootprint.org which is a huge eye-opener.  I try to buy free-trade products (especially chocolate). 

 

Selah Davenport, Operations Manager:

Very simply, I am a child of God and I feel it is my privilege to do what I can to empower those marginalized and help give a voice to those who do not have the same opportunities I do.  I was first introduced to human trafficking when I read the book "Half The Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  It set me on the path to learn more about what fuels this egregious human rights abuse and how I can do my part. I learned that it is an issue that touches many communities, near and far. Along with serving as the Operations Manager of Free The Girls, I also volunteer with a local social enterprise employing survivors of sex trafficking in my city.  I've also started to research and learn more about Fair Trade products and companies so I can work towards being a conscious consumer and not by clothes or products produced by slave labor. I think the best advice I can give to someone who wants to get involved in field is to understand that you don't have to travel to an under developed country to make an impact.  The best place to start would be educating yourself...read books, watching documentaries...anything that raises your awareness. 

Then look in your community for ways to get involved...act locally, think globally.  Of course I must encourage supporting Free The Girls, we offer a tangible way for people to directly impact the lives of the brave women in our programs!

 

Abby Mortenson, Creative Director: 

Why do you believe in the work you are doing? I'm so grateful for the freedoms I have and I can't imagine having that freedom stripped away. I feel like I am called to stand up on behalf of those who are experiencing exploitation, trafficking, and forced labor. 

What brought you to the issue of human trafficking? About 8 years ago I read a book by Gary Haugen called The Good News About Injustice. I was stunned and outraged at the facts of slavery around our world and so I started researching human trafficking locally and globally to find out ways I could make a difference. 

What is something simple you do that impacts the world? I look for ways to get involved with anti-trafficking organizations. I've volunteered with The Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado, Restore Innocence, and now work with Free The Girls. I try to spread awareness about the issue and encourage others to find ways to get involved. I've also had the privilege of mentoring a few girls in the U.S. who've experienced sexual exploitation.  

What would you say to someone who wants to involved in the work of changing the face of modern day slavery?

There are so many ways to be involved. The issue is huge but it's not too big for each person to contribute. Use your specific gifts! You can pray for people and organizations. Share the truth with people, donate bras, give financially, buy fair trade, be on the lookout and report any suspicious activity, join a task force. Little things can make a big difference and we all have something to give!

We at Free The Girls love to talk about #EverydayAbolitionists. We believe that everyone can do something to work towards a more free and hopeful world. Although we are staffed in the United States, our partners and supporters are all over the world. We are proud to be a part of this global movement to stop human trafficking, and to see to it that survivors have a chance at true FREEDOM. Our job is to empower people to give and to help support safe economic opportunity for women in Mozambique, Uganda, and El Salvador.

Please check out our website for more information, and connect with us on Instagram or Facebook! We'd love to hear how you use your everyday lives to make a difference in the world!  So tell us!  How are YOU an #EverydayAbolitionist?