International Teams

So What Is It You Do, Anyway?

When people think of anti-human trafficking work, they typically think of rescue and shelters. Rescues are exciting and shelters are needed and everyone easily understands why they are essential. But neither really does anything about ending slavery. If a victim is rescued, a trafficker brings in two more. And shelters are for after the fact. They are needed, like emergency medical workers are needed in an epidemic. But at some point, we need to cure the illness itself as well as identify those who have it; or leaving our analogy behind, to address the systemic causes that allow slavery to flourish, as well as identify victims so they CAN be rescued and restored. And that’s just what we at End Slavery do. Here’s an overview of our current and "in the works" initiatives:

  • IDENTIFY THE VICTIMS:  Distribution of posters, bookmarks, bumper stickers and other materials that help people identify victims/ web page with victim ID red flags

Community Watch type programs to enable neighbors to spot trafficking in their own neighborhood. Speaking to community groups. Fielding calls, e-mail, and Facebook messages and advising community members who suspect trafficking and are unsure what to do about it.

  • PROTECT OUR YOUTH: Presentation and materials for schools, inner city and immigrant service providers and other youth venues, warning youth, and those who care for them, of the tactics of traffickers.

Teen oriented web site warning of trafficking tactics with ways to share info easily with friends and to report, anonymously if desired, what is happening within peer group.

  • OPEN PROFESSIONAL’S EYES:  Training for professions likely to make first contact with victims (teachers, pastors, medical workers, social workers, legislators, apt. managers, maintenance workers etc.) 
  • SUPPORT THE SURVIVORS: We work with the FBI to provide help as needed for rescued victims and we hold events and home parties to increase venues for sale of goods made by rescued victims.
  • SLOW THE DEMAND: We teach at each session of the local John school (a school for men arrested for soliciting prostitutes), educating the attendees on how their choices feed human trafficking and slavery. Other initiatives are currently under consideration such as billboards, ads, flyers and/or other media targeted to the people buying the slave’s services or goods
  • LOOK TO THE FUTURE:  We teach in numerous college classes each semester so the next generation, the leaders of tomorrow, will not be ignorant of human trafficking and modern slavery.

We hold regular events on college campuses, spreading awareness and encouraging/equipping student involvement in ending slavery while they are still in school.

We have interns each semester who learn deeply about the issue and ways to work to end it.  In every case thus far, students continue to work with us after their internship is over and make career choices focused on ending slavery/aiding victims.

  • EDUCATE:    Through a monthly newsletter, blog, twitter, Facebook cause, and regular speaking engagements. This not only leads to victim identification, it is our belief that we can create a groundswell of outrage that will affect change makers in the media, legislators etc.
  • REPLICATE:  We were instrumental in connecting people who started a coalition in Knoxville and an anti-slavery group in Memphis and look to spreading anti-slavery work throughout Tennessee. We also train churches, and other groups, in Tennessee and other parts of the country, how to engage in ending slavery in their own communities.

This is a grassroots movement using ordinary people in all walks of life. We have two monthly volunteer groups, one in Nashville and one in Franklin. These groups further educate themselves on the issue and break into action groups focusing on various initiatives.

Additional notes:

In March 2010, an organization working among oppressed people in over 60 countries, asked End Slavery in Tennessee’s Director, Derri Smith, to help them establish teams around the world focused specifically on slavery and human trafficking. While taking on that non-paid director’s position with International Teams (ITeams), she remains committed to the work in Tennessee, as well. In fact, she is working on establishing ITeams’ first full-time domestic anti-slavery team in Nashville, which will serve as a training base for other teams in the US and around the world.

  • Derri is also currently engaged in starting/ expanding/considering anti-slavery teams in Uganda, Brazil, Thailand, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Australia, Cambodia, India and Russia.

What YOU Can Do to End Slavery: An Abolitionist’s Dozen

  • Host a prayer vigil. Sept. 24-26 is the 5th Annual International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for victims of sex slavery. Find resources here.
  • Have a fair trade chocolate and coffee tasting party.
  • Show “Faces of Slavery” to your church, home group, professional org or family and friends in your home. Write for free DVD.
  • Write letters of encouragement to rescued victims in shelters. Write for info.
  • Donate books and media on human trafficking to libraries—school, public, church etc. Write for recommendations and to let us know where you gave.
  • Show a movie about human trafficking and discuss modern slavery with your friends. Suggestions: Cargo , Human Trafficking, or commercial films like Taken  or Slumdog Millionaire.   Invite us to lead the discussion if you don’t feel ready.
  • Retweet our tweets. 
  • Hold an awareness/benefit event, a Chinese auction, battle of the bands, or an outdoor movie night. We have lots of ideas. You probably do too!
  • Distribute media that helps identify victims and how to help them. (Write  for bookmarks, postcards, posters, bumper stickers. )
  • Love to read? Have a readathon to raise funds. Get friends to sponsor you per book read. Or recommend a book on human trafficking to your book club.
  • Devote your Facebook status to human trafficking information once a week. Our newsletter is a good source of information. Sign up here.
  • BEST way to engage for most people: Join one of our monthly Volunteer Action Groups: Nashville or Franklin

And…

Pass this list on to your friends!

Adventures in Turkey – Part 3

 

The adventure continued on the way home. We made our way through the tangles of multinational, multilingual lines at the airport: customs, passport control, and airline ticketing, arriving at our gate, where we chatted a bit with the German nationals awaiting the flight back to Munich. Without aid of a microphone, a Lufthansa Airlines crew member relayed news to people within earshot. As word trickled out through the crowd, we first learned that our flight was delayed two hours, and finally that it was cancelled due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.

Then ensued hours of confusion and lines to retrieve luggage, re-navigate outbound passport controls that were not really set up for entry back into the country, obtain rebooking for the next flight and, finally, transport to a nice hotel for the night. By the next day, we were Turkish airport experts, as we maneuvered through the circuit to the departure gate, alongside our new German friends. It was like déjà vu, up to and including news of another flight delay. But we were eventually airborne across the Aegean Sea and on to Europe, albeit by a somewhat circuitous route to avoid the dust cloud.

In Munich, we stumbled into the hotel and grabbed a few hours sleep before the next leg of the journey.  Then, fortified by a lovely German style breakfast, we made our way back to the airport, through multiple stringent security screenings (including added precautions for U.S. bound travelers). I received eight body searches on this trip, thanks to my insulin pump. Good thing I’m not too ticklish, as screeners are not generally in the mood for laughter. Finally, secured and restricted into the Munich airport gate area, we had plenty of opportunity to ponder the blessings of the week through a four-hour departure delay–again the work of the that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland.

The next day’s flight from Munich to Washington took an unusual route north of Iceland to avoid the ash cloud stretching southward along the eastern Atlantic. Bone tired, jet lagged and very ready to be home, God provided refreshment late in the flight through connection with one of His people–an American living in Turkey who pastors Turkish Christians. This man has a heart for helping the victims of human trafficking, which he says is a HUGE problem in Turkey.

A final twist in the journey…my luggage was checked through from Turkey to the U.S., so for days I'd been wearing the same thin T-shirt dress and sandals, and was decidedly "ripe." I looked forward to grabbing fresh clothes and my walking shoes at a chilly and rainy Dulles airport before the final flight to Nashville. It was not to be. My suitcase, last seen in the airport in Turkey and containing gifts and my best clothing, did not arrive for inbound customs check. In fact, it did not even show up in the airline computers. Bill theorizes that the suitcase and contents are now on offer somewhere at a Turkish bazaar.

We left for home mid-day on a Sunday, arrived back home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning  and fell asleep so quickly I don't even recall my head hitting the pillow.

But the adventure isn't over. It is just beginning! We now have invitations to visit workers all over the globe and an opening to develop and support the work to end slavery. International Teams is perfectly positioned–as now are we–to engage the battle in long-lasting, effective ways through people who give their lives for the purposes expressed in the book of Isaiah, “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Adventures in Turkey - Part 2

The conference we attended was a wonderful collection of Jesus followers; leaders of various callings from around the world. The sessions where I spoke on human trafficking and slavery went well, I think, but I learned so much from the folks I met with throughout the week; people who work among the oppressed and hence those most vulnerable to the injustices I spoke about. I am a generalist; these on-the-ground people are the front line specialists I hope to support and serve. Among those I got to know were:

  • A family in Uganda actively helping child soldiers and encountering other types of slavery.
  • A woman in Honduras wanting to bring  sexual abuse into the light, in a culture where such things are simply not spoken of.
  • A couple in the USA with the desire to bring healing to Nepalese refugees who have been victims of sex trafficking.
  • A family in Russia who see many forms of labor slavery, including a virtual concentration camp for deceived/abducted Turkish men, and who want to develop a multi-faceted plan to help these victims.
  • Multiple people in closed countries, courageously reaching out to provide shelter and jobs for survivors of sex slavery.
  • A godly Dutch woman with a heart for prostituted women and children, and changing life circumstances that allow her more time to pursue this direction.
  • A family with a vision for working in rural villages in Thailand to prevent trafficking among these isolated and vulnerable people.
  • A woman who has given ten years of her life, enduring through many challenges and disappointments, to reach out with God's love to those trapped in prostitution in Greece, including trafficked Nigerian women. 
  •  A family in Bulgaria laying a foundation for aiding  trafficking victims among the Romani people (Gypsies) they live in community with.

Note: For security reasons I can’t include photos from the conference; we have many workers in closed countries. The woman with me in the photo above is Julie, my awesome, dedicated, hard-working, intelligent team-mate.

To be continued

Adventures in Turkey

“If we aren’t supposed to go, then block our way,” was our final prayer as Bill and I set out toward the airport under torrential rainfall. We found three routes blocked by floods. And the fourth road closed behind us, just as we reached the airport. No going back. Many flights were cancelled. Ours got out.

The past ten days that took us to Turkey and back have been an adventure, from start to finish!

Turkey (Türkiye) was a fascinating place. Amidst the countryside, very modest houses are clustered around impressive mosques and under the watchful eye of minarets from which go out the calls for prayer. The scene repeated every mile or so across farm covered valleys and hills.

I saw women covered from head to toe, despite the warm weather, marketplace merchants hustling wares with inflated descriptions and prices, inviting negotiation. Everywhere I went, I clearly stood out as one who did not belong. This was another world, and I was the alien.

Yet people are people everywhere, and using the two Turkish words I learned from a man on the plane, "Hello" and "Thank-you," won smiles and an appreciation that I was trying to connect to that world.  Even so, basic German language skill (along with English) enabled me to engage in conversation with local people. Culture and language barriers between the woman in head scarf and long, shape-concealing overcoat and I (with uncovered head, a T-shirt dress and sandals) quickly dissolved when the topic  turned to motherhood and cooking.

To be continued

Do Unto Others…

I have to ask myself, is there some difference between my children and those who are forced into slavery that makes their enslavement acceptable?  And what would I NOT be willing to do if MY daughters were trapped? I'd do just about anything! 

  • I would tell everyone who would listen, in hopes that they would help find my children and free them. I would contact TV and radio stations, write to newspapers and magazines, put up billboards and post on-line. I’d see if I could speak to my church, professional organizations and clubs.
  • I would gather my friends together to plan what we could do to rescue them and help them heal and re-enter normal life.
  • I would pray earnestly, passionately, continually.
  • I would travel anywhere I needed to, if there was even a small chance I might find my daughters there or someone who knew how to help them.
  • I would give every cent I could scrape together, and sell any non-essentials. I’d hold fund-raisers and ask my friends to do the same.

I would use every bit of skill and ability I have, and all my sphere of influence, in any way I thought might help.

 Jesus said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

New Name, Same Work - Plus International

As someone following the ever expanding anti-human trafficking /slavery work in Tennessee, accomplished in the past year under the name Not For Sale, I want to share with you exciting new developments:

  • I have been asked to share the vision and what I've learned in Tennessee in an effort to mobilize 1,200 workers in over 60 nations to fight slavery and aid victims.
  • Our Tennessee work continues with the existing team of volunteers, no longer under the national Not For Sale Campaign, but as End Slavery TN - with International Teams.

 I began our Tennessee work in late 2008 and soon found dozens of volunteers standing with me to expose the growth of slavery in our state, warn the vulnerable, educate the influential and aid former victims. Their efforts have touched thousands, and our enthused army of volunteers will move the work forward. However, we have concluded that the national Not For Sale Campaign organization is no longer the best cover for this local, grassroots work.  

Maintaining Momentum in Tennessee

We will move forward with the work in Tennessee under the name End Slavery in Tennessee. While continuing to reach out to a wide range of participants, as Christians we believe recovering victims can only be wholly restored through the transforming touch of God and that our work is in vain without His empowering grace; this belief will be reflected in our work.  We will work under the covering of International Teams, under which our work will also expand. More about that...

Reaching Across All Borders

From 1987 to 1994, Bill and I served overseas with International Teams (ITeams), a Christian mission bringing people together to help the oppressed: The poor, the slave and the blind. We recently spoke with Scott Olson, president and CEO of the U.S. office. Scott wants to train and mobilize ITeams workers to seek out current and former slaves in need of healing and vulnerable people who are especially at-risk  of enslavement. He wants ITeams workers, worldwide, to set the captives free - physically, emotionally and spiritually, with a long term commitment to deep, effective initiatives.

Scott asked me to help in efforts to  train, equip and mobilize these 1,200 workers around the globe (and urban U.S.) who already have daily contact with vulnerable people, where human traffickers prey. Just as with the local work, I'll serve as an unpaid volunteer. While I continue to work (alongside Bill) from our Tennessee home, some travel is required. Already, we plan to meet in May with a gathering of ITeams leaders in Turkey.

How To Stay Involved

For those who are already involved, just keep doing what you are doing! Volunteer groups continue to meet in Nashville and Franklin. I'll continue to provide support and resources to groups in  Memphis and Knoxville.

You can help pay the expenses of the Tennessee work by sending a tax-deductible gift to International Teams, 411 W. River Road, Elgin, IL 60123 or on-line , putting"for Derri Smith's work account" in the memo line or "designated for" field. This account will also pay travel and operational expenses in support of the international work. If you wish to specify your donation as "local" or "international," just indicate this. We'll make sure your funds are spent according to your wishes.

But this message is not about giving money as much as it is about  continuing  involvement to set captives free. Thank-you for reading our blogs, educating yourself and participating in our common cause. I welcome your comments, your questions and your prayers. Grateful, NFS card

 

      

In Her Own Words...Part 3

Karen:  Most people who are involved with the abolition of human trafficking and slavery know the horrors of this crime from books, movies, videos, on-line accounts, etc.  However, on one night in January, some of the volunteers with End Slavery TN met these atrocities face to face.  We were invited to spend a few hours with a victim of human trafficking. We sat mesmerized for two hours listening to a beautiful, courageous young woman, whom I shall call “Carrie” and what have been the horrors of her life.    She talked about her drug addicted mother and alcoholic father, and how at the early age of six, her mother told her to go into a bedroom with drug suppliers and “play doctor” with them.  “Carrie” had never been taught the values that most of us are brought up with, the value of one’s body and soul. She was a very bright, pretty girl and by the time she was twelve or thirteen, after having lived with other relatives in various places, been raped by her older brother, and abused by others, she became involved with a pimp and a life of prostitution.  Over the next five-six years she was forced to have sex with “more men than she could hope to remember.”  She was moved from city to city, was branded on her body and face, had both feet broken when thrown out of a moving car, had her teeth broken, and was beaten repeatedly for “not making her quota” or disobeying her pimp!   From the time she was sixteen, she tried to break away from this destructive life.  After being arrested and treated like a criminal, however, she would call her pimp to bail her out.  After all, who else would help her? Until one day, she encountered a woman from law enforcement who offered to help her escape.  In an agreement for testifying against several pimps, she was placed several times in foster homes or half-way houses where she was mistreated, eventually retreating to her pimp, because “at least he would feed her.”    “Carrie” has, in her early twenties, finally escaped, but at a cost.  She has been placed here in TN where she knew no one, can never go back home, can never contact her family, and fears that she will be found and killed.  She is courageously trying to begin a new life as a college student and working to help other victims.  However, it is hard!  She feels alienated from most people because of her past, feels she may never have a normal relationship with a man and has difficulty with trust.  Despite everything, she is upbeat and hopeful.   I personally came away heartbroken for “Carrie” and all the “Carries” of this world.  Most of us will never know the realities of trafficking, can never fully understand the dynamics that land victims in this path, or fully comprehend the consequences.  We can, however, learn from these victims, share their stories, come to their assistance, continue to educate others, and do everything in our power to end human trafficking.  There are laws in place against this crime.  WE have to work to ensure these laws are enforced!  Thank you “Carrie” for sharing your story and for your courage to escape and help prosecute these criminals!