“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” he said. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”
- Steve McQueen, Director of 2014 Oscar’s Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave
Now listen, I love me some Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale. OK, and Matthew McConaughey, being a Texan and all. Didn’t you seriously LOVE his Best Actor Oscar acceptance speech last night which kicked off a big thank you to God?!
Ahem. Still. There could be no better time than NOW for Steve McQueen, the darling Lupita and their 12 Years a Slave film to highlight a problem we have on this round ball we call Earth. 21 million? Not quite. Statistics suggest the number of people caught in the web of human trafficking is closer to a staggering 27 million.
Can you even wrap your head around that? Because I can’t. And then I read the stories. Tales that haunt me in the wee hours of the night. Words woven together that reveal plots so sinister and carefully planned that they surely deserve a movie of their own:
*The law student from Dallas forced into the sex trade industry in a carefully calculated move that started with a simple question: “Who’s gonna buy me a drink?”
*The aspiring nurse from the Eastern European country who, with her parent’s blessing and life savings, made a trip to a foreign country where she was tricked, gang raped, beaten, her passport and money taken…the newest slave in her brothel.
*The professional sports broadcaster who very nearly gave up her life and freedom in the US to take a seemingly innocent and compeling job in Russia covering the Olympics.
Friend, if their stories don’t paint a critical picture of what human trafficking looks like in the US and beyond then think of your own children. What future can they face while traffickers continue to enjoy a shamefully low conviction rate around the globe? Picture 1 in 100,000 traffickers meeting justice. And more joining their ranks daily.
We simply can not afford to be silent.
The good news? We are mad. No, more than mad. Furious. Those of us who have heard the stories. People who have forever had our hearts changed. We cannot dare to pretend modern day slavery does not exist…..
We are in it to end it.
Because there are 27 million people enslaved today, but there are 7 billion who can fight for freedom!
Because the average age of a trafficking victim…is 12 years old.
Because only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued.
IN IT TO END IT.
The A21 Campaign has outlined 21 steps you can take today to help end human slavery:
1. WRITE A LETTER
Grab your stationery and pull out a pen! The simple act of writing to a survivor in one of our homes is an incredible encouragement to survivors along their journey. But don’t be surprised if it has a great impact on you too. Click here to find out more information.
2. MULTIPLY YOUR PENNIES
Everyday changes can make huge impacts in bringing an end to slavery. By simply altering daily choices and saving money, you can become a partner with us as we bring an end to slavery. Instead of ordering a large coffee, opt for a smaller size and save those pennies! A few small changes can help bring lasting change for a survivor!
3. GET SOCIAL
That’s right, we want to be social with social media. Whether through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you can find ways to connect with us for updated information, as well as quickly share information with your friends and family. It’s the easiest way to spread the word, as well as to stay connected to freedom fighters all over the globe.
4. GET SMART
Take some time to learn the facts about what’s happening in the world of modern slavery. When you have knowledge about the subject, you’re more likely to share with those around you. An easy way to stay informed is to visit our blog or download the USA high school curriculum.
5. INTERN OR VOLUNTEER
Around the globe we have teams of people working hard in the fight against injustice. Click here to find out how you can join the team and use your time to make a difference.
6. BE A BILLBOARD
Not only can fashion express who you are, but it can also represent what you stand for! In our online store, you will find fashionable attire and accessories to start conversations about human trafficking.
7. SEND STUFF
Round up some friends and purchase gifts to help survivors. If you live within the European Union, you can send small packages to the mailing address of one of our shelters here. Live outside of the EU? No problem! You can do everything from furnishing shelters to sending hygiene products across the globe… and all with a piece of plastic. Send gift cards for Target, Wal-Mart, or Ikea to our California office, and we will take care of sending your love to the survivors in our care.
Human trafficking is nothing short of evil, but don’t underestimate the power of prayer. If you would like to obtain a prayer guide, visit our downloads for print.
9. REQUEST A SPEAKER
Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the expertise to educate on such a heavy subject? Bring in someone from The A21 Campaign to speak at your freedom event. This is one of the best ways to catch the vision of The A21 Campaign and find out more information on how YOU can get involved.
10. READ ALL ABOUT IT
11. SHOW YOUR STUFF
Write a blog about why we should fight against human trafficking; paint a picture and display it publicly; use a sports event to raise awareness and funds; write a song or talk about human trafficking at a concert; create a short film and post it on YouTube.
12. REMEMBER THE 21ST
Join us on the 21st of every month as we set aside a day to remember people who are currently in slavery. Whether it’s giving up a cup of coffee or an entire meal, it serves as a reminder to take action and stand for justice around the world.
13. WRITE FOR THEIR RIGHTS
We believe everyone has a voice to be heard. By lobbying your local politician, you can advocate for those without a voice. For more information on how to inform your elected officials, check out Polaris Project.
14. PARTY WITH A PURPOSE
Host an event for the sake of freedom. From mixers to birthday parties, your gathering can show your heart for social justice. Take the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for The A21 Campaign. And don’t forget, the best time to host an event is for Key To Free, an annual mobilization initiative coordinated by A21.
15. INCORPORATE THE CORPORATE
Many companies are now partnering with nonprofit organizations for seasonal moments of giving back. If you work in the corporate world (or know someone who does), ask if A21 could be considered as one of the contenders for a partnership program, matching funds, or a sponsored charity.
16. MAKE VIDEOS VIRAL
What if you had just as much enthusiasm for justice as you did for those funny cat videos on YouTube? Plaster your online presence with videos to grab people’s attention.
17. LINK LOCALLY
Find out who’s in your area and link up with them! That’s right, there are other people in your area who share your passion in abolishing slavery. Whether it’s a local task force, or a student group that is hosting an event, join them and stand together in the fight for freedom!
18. WALK IN HER SHOES
It’s been said that you don’t know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. Maybe you can walk a mile in high heels to raise awareness. We’ve had advocates row across an ocean, climb mountains, cycle across the country, and simply organize a run for awareness. Your initiatives can make a difference through raising funds and knowledge! Read some of the amazing stories here.
19. JOIN AN A-TEAM
Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or stay-at-home mom, we believe you can make a difference! Join our A-Teams as an abolitionist or advocate to raise awareness. Signing up with an A-Team will give you the resources you need to make a difference with your peers and friends.
20. DEMAND NO DEMAND
Human trafficking leaves a footprint. The shoes you buy, the chocolate you eat, or even the parts that make up your smart phone might very well have been made by a modern-day slave. But if we don’t buy the products, there will be no demand. Take this test and see how many slaves work for you:http://slaveryfootprint.org.
21. SUPPLY THE SOLUTION
The truth is that every single one of us is wired to be able to bring a truly unique solution to a very real problem occurring today. This list of 21 things does not end here. In fact, it does not end at all. The reality is that if you want to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking, you can. If there is still breath in your lungs and a beat in your heart, you have the opportunity to add to this list!
What about you? What else would you add to the list? Have you been touched by this? Have you reached out to a victim? We want to know more. And submit your own In It To END It pictures on my Facebook page, link above!