Back in October 2012, two of my dearest guys in my life travelled to Uganda to document the first graduating class of the Timothy Girls School. It was there that they met Monica- a strong, intelligent and soft spoken girl with tenacious ambition.
I think back to when I was graduating high school…I did not have to face the same social challenges that Monica does. Yet she is bravely pioneering into the future as a young educated woman, determined to raise the social status of all women in her country.
From Malala inPakistan to Monica in Uganda, girls are rising up from rural classrooms and taking their place on the world stage…history is being made all around us.
To learn more about the Timothy Project’s Girls School, Leadership Training, Sustainable Farming or to Sponsor a student like Monica, visit: http://paoutreach.net/timothy-project
Phillipians 1: 9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
Every year God gives me a word or a theme that often defines the journey that He takes me on that year and many of the lessons that I learn that year.
2009-Consistency: To be found constant, reliable, consistent.
2010-More: This year- strive for more. Don’t settle. Don’t get comfortable. Fight more. Love more. Learn more. Mentor more. Obey more. Be more.
2011-With Conviction: To live with my whole heart for my whole life. 99.9% is not enough.
2012-Add to the Beauty: I want to live in the beauty of the Jesus- love story and see that beauty grow in the world around me.
Now, at the beginning of 2013 I’m sensing there are two words that keep coming up in my head: Love & Light.
Will be posting more insights of Love and Light in the next little while.
Excited for the future!
October 11, 2012- The first ever International Day of the Girl to advocate for the rights of girls and celebrate the possibilities can that be realized when girls are empowered. All across the world celebrations are taking place, from Dundas Square, Toronto to the Empire State Building in NYC- cities, billboards and hearts are glowing pink to acknowledge the need for girls rights worldwide.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time. As the world turns pink in recognition, 14 year old Malala Yousufzai currently lies unconscious in a hospital bed after being shot in the head and neck by the Taliban while she was trying to board a school bus to sit on the floor and receive an education in Pakistan. Clearly, knowledge is power and education shapes countries. As NY Times Journalist and Co-Author of the amazing book Half the Sky , Nicholas Kristof said in his recent article:
“[The Taliban] understand the stakes perfectly. They shot Malala because girls’ education threatens everything that they stand for. The greatest risk for violent extremists in Pakistan isn’t American drones. It’s educated girls.“
Can you imagine what the world would look like when girls were educated, empowered, listen to, valued, invested in and given their rightful places alongside their male peers? Oh the possibilities! The world has never seen that before!
As Martin Luther King Jr. bravely once said…“I have a dream”.
Let us pray for the brave little hero, Malala Yousufzai. She has a long road ahead of her, even if she recovers from this assassination attempt. The Taliban have promised to kill her, if she continues to speak out about education and Malala, in turn, had recently announced that one day she would like to pursue a leadership role in politics.
I pray that she, and many other girls like her, get the opportunity to.
Let’s stand beside our sisters and make this happen. I believe in the possibilities!
I choose the pageants that I am associated with very carefully. I have been asked to compete in many different pageants but I’ve only been involved in two because I felt that the other pageants focused too much on physical beauty and did not take into account the inner character of the individual. After getting to know the Miss World Canada organization I am convinced that our core values and vision are the same. I believe in the synergy and collaboration of like-minded individuals who are working to accomplish the same goals. Together we become a movement of people who believe in something greater.
For Immediate ReleaseApril 8, 2012Teng aims to take her fight against slavery to the global stageLangley, B.C. – Abolitionist Tara Teng aims to take her fight against exploitation and slavery to the global stage by joining the Miss World Canada pageant which takes place on Sunday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at the RiverRock Casino. Having held previous provincial and national tiltles, Teng has had the privilege and opportunity to speak across Canada and internationally engaging people to be active in ending human trafficking. Teng believes being a contestant for Miss World Canada is a natural step because of their focus on humanitarian efforts and theme of “beauty with a purpose”.
“Canada needs to strongly empower women in society to be leaders and Miss World Canada matches my passion to see this happen,” Teng says. Teng emphasizes that her entry into Miss World Canada is focused on inspiring action to end human exploitation and preventing violence against women.
Teng encourages people to learn more about the vision of Miss World Canada by going to their website at www.missworldcanada.org. “Convictions must be lived out and I hope my action and efforts to date will demonstrate to the judges that I am a worthy contestant due to the core Canadian values of freedom and equality,” Teng says.
Miss World® Canada is on the search for the next Ambassador of Canada, and potentially the next Ambassador of the world! Miss World® Canada works on empowering women to help build lifelong skills in in key areas which in turn will open their doors to the future. Teng is thrilled that Miss World Canada will be raising funds for Variety-The Children’s Charity .
Teng is honoured at the opportunities she has had to influence young women and the fight to see every person worldwide treated with the enormous value they deserve. Teng is asking you to go to the Miss World Canada to vote for her as the People’s Choice Award. “No matter the outcome of this pageant I will continue fighting to see exploitation end in my generation,” concluded Teng.
Media Photos Enclosed
Photo credit: Hannah Cummins Photography
For more information:
Tara Teng – email@example.com – @misstarateng - tarateng.wordpress.com
If you’ve watched the movie “Taken” then you may imagine what it feels like for a parent to have their child taken from them, sold into human trafficking and the desperate desire to do everything in their power to get their child back.
Today I share my blog with Glendene Grant, a close friend and the mother of Jessie Foster.
Jessie is a human trafficking victim from Kamloops, BC who went missing 6 years ago today.
She was lured into prostitution by a trafficker who posed as a boyfriend. He brought her to Las Vegas on a “vacation” and while she was there, he sold her to a pimp.
She has been missing ever since.
“In than 8 hours from this writing it will be 6 LONG YEARS since I got a call that scared the crap out of me. I thought it was Jessie (the area code on the call display was Las Vegas 702) and it sounded like someone calling – then in the 2nd & 3rd calls, SCREAMING for help.
Within 24 hours from this writing we knew something was drastically wrong and before long we knew she was missing.
FROM THAT MOMENT ON, OUR LIVES HAVE NEVER BEEN THE SAME.
Jessie-Bessie, we love you so much and miss you more than we could have ever imagined but we have not lost hope we will find you and we have not forgot you, not even for a minute. You are on our minds ALL THE TIME.
JESSIE, YOU ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PEOPLE ARE SO MUCH MORE AWARE OF THIS CRIME BECAUSE OF THE TRAGEDY THAT HAPPENED TO YOU. YOU HAVE CHANGED LIVES AND YOU HAVE SAVED LIVES AND WE CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO COME HOME. You have family members to meet . . . your little sisters are both mommies and family members who have left us and we need to have you back with us where you belong.
I will find you, Sweetie – or die trying,
Canada can do better for prostituted women.
On Monday, March 26 2012, the Ontario Court of Appeal released their ruling on a landmark prostitution case that will have huge implications on the future of prostitution, sex trafficking and violence against women in our society. To read more of the details, please follow this link.
The battle is not over.
“It now remains open to Parliament to respond with new legislation that complies with the requirements of the Charter.” (Quote from the March 26 Court Document)
We are calling on all Canadians who share this belief to stand together in solidarity with those who have been exploited and demand that the Nordic Model for prostitution be adopted by Canada’s Parliament.
The time to act is now. We have a short window of opportunity to empower women and rise up to defend their safety and freedom.
The time to act is now…we cannot stand by and do nothing.
Please watch the video below, share it with others and take action.
The time to act is now.
A year ago today, we were drenched by rain and marching through the streets to Langley alongside 300+ other freedom fighters to declare that we will not tolerate the exploitation of human beings! It’s amazing to look back over the last year and see how much has happened since then!
Thanks to everyone who walked with us on that day and everyone who has continued to fight for freedom every day since then! Let us keep growing the movement and never back down until true freedom has been achieved for every person.
I pretend to be really tough but I know that I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. (I don’t think I’m fooling anyone either). I got a real wakeup call when I lived in Guatemala for part of the summer two years ago and realized that I’m not tough enough to be a Guatemalan woman.
When it comes to the work that women do around the world and the struggles that they face… I am essentially the ”1%”. I am part of the privileged few that get to enjoy the freedoms, respect and rights that all women deserve. With International Women’s day happening this week, March 8th, I am reminded again of how far we’ve come, how far we have yet to go and how much respect women around the world deserve for all that they do.
Please watch this short video, appreciate all the hard work that women do around the world and take the time to appreciate the women around you and send respect/support to the many women worldwide who still don’t receive the same rights and freedoms that we all deserve.
STOP THE TRAFFIK
BY: Gerard Kelly
I am a person, not a potato to be picked and packaged
To be sent to market to be sliced and diced,
Chopped up and ketchupped on the other side of the world,
I am human and I am not for sale.
I am a living conscience, not a cargo, I travel passenger, not freight,
I am not cattle, not contraband,
Not a catalogued commodity,
I’m not the bottom line for those who trade in tragedy
And profit from perversity,
I am not a can to be recycled
I am human and I am not for sale.
I am a thinking individual, not a rare exotic bird,
I am your sister, not an inmate for your zoo,
I am not merchandise, not meat, not a meal ticket,
I was mothered, not manufactured, begotten, not created,
I am human and I am not for sale.
Its time to end this trade in human tragedy
To terminate this travesty of a global economy
Let the red lights of your cities be put to better use to stop the traffic.
Write it in lights across your seared conscience:
I am human and I am not for sale.
Some people call them hookers…prostitutes…whores… or sex trade workers. I cringe every time I hear any of these terms to describe women in prostitution because no matter what term is used, it never brings justice or dignity to the individual being sold.
Studies around the world consistently show that the overwhelming majority of women in prostitution desperately want out right now but see no possible exit opportunities. The correlation between sex trafficking and prostitution is so strong that it is virtually impossible to separate the two. Not only is prostitution controlled by pimps and organized crime, the average entry age into prostitution around the world is between 12-14 years old. This is not a lifestyle choice for these young girls; they have been trafficked into the global sex trade for the purpose of making huge lucrative profits for their pimps, trafficker and “owners”.
“The girl is the new drug,” declares Sergeant Detective Kelley O’Connell of the Boston Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit, vocalizing the global crisis that makes young women the most popular commodity to buy and sell internationally. With this kind of knowledge, there is no possible way that I can label prostituted and trafficked women as common hookers, whores and prostitutes…I doubt that those terms even exist in reality.
While in Korea, I heard a beautiful description of the precious lives trapped in the sex trade. Yesterday some of the workers at a aftercare shelter for victims of human trafficking, described their work with the “sisters” in Korea’s illegal red light districts. I asked one of my new Korean friends to elaborate more on her heart for the Korean sisters who have been caught in the vicious cycle of sex trafficking:
“Growing up as the eldest child, I did not have an older sister. So every opportunity I got when I met an older female Korean friend or acquaintance I would call them “older sister” in Korean. There was a sense of security and familiarity when I used that term. An older sister was someone who would stand up for you if you were in trouble. Someone you could rely on and trust. Someone you could share secrets with, laugh and cry with, and just be yourself with. You can’t replace the power or bond or security of sisterhood.
There is a deep history of survival in Korea. Koreans use their pride and unity to help one another, encourage each other, and stand back up on their feet. Even Koreans who have immigrated to other countries, they immediately connect with other Koreans who have immigrated, because there is safety and support with “their” people. I see the older generation in Korea, in workplaces or marketplaces. Their cheerful and familiar banter. Especially the women, the sisterhood. They watch either others’ backs, they help the person next to them, and make sacrifices for one another.
It’s ironic that even with this beautiful idea of unity, strength, and support, there is a selective process about it. With so many people in denial of what is happening right in their own backyards, it is not a surprise that many of the women who are victims of trafficking are excluded from this unifying term, “sister”. The vulnerable and weak are now estranged from calling on a “sister” for help from the rest of society and not by their own choice. They are helpless and in need, but they do not have any one to call their “sister”, to back them up and stand up for them. They are being ignored and blamed for things not completely in their control.
Where did that love, pride, and unity go? Where did the outstretched hand go? Where did the sisterhood go for these victims? Why are they excluded? This is the time when they need us the most. They need us to stand up for them… to fight back against the school bully, the mean girl, the bad boss, the pimp, the johns and fight against the idea that they are okay with the multiple and daily violations of their bodies, minds, and souls. Where are the brothers and sisters who will stand up to restore our lost sisters?” –Estella J. Kang in Seoul, South Korea.
Powerful and beautiful words. I am praying that we will all view one another as brothers and sisters of the world. May we never shun, ignore or abandon our sisters who have been sold and exploited in the sex industry.
It’s time to love our sisters.
When heroes become villains…
Remember the days when comic book heroes heard the silent cries of distressed damsels and rushed in to save the day with strength and bravery? Average citizens, women and children could live without fear because there was always a noble hero nearby to swoop in and save the day!
In Seoul, South Korea, there is a very popular comic book by the artist Kim Sung Mo entitled, “Yong Ju Gol”. Yet unlike the Marvel comic books that boast the adventures of timeless heroes such as Superman and the Justice League, Yong Ju Gol has published over 180 episodes of comics depicting the sexual exploitation, abuse and even murder of young women in the country’s oldest and most popular red light district… which is also named “Yong Ju Gol”.
Even though prostitution is illegal in South Korea, Yong Ju Gol maintains its popularity and allure due to the popular comic book that shares its name with and describes many of the events that take place there on a daily basis. What is even more surprising is that this comic book, named after a red light district, is not only the most popular comic book in all of area but until recently was sold in popular book stores and read by young children!
The red light district, Yong Ju Gol was first established to service the local American military base during the Korean War and has since become the most popular destination for Korean men to visit for paid sexual services. It has grown 3x its original size since it was established in the 1950s and, with over 36,300 square meters, the majority of Korea’s trafficked women end up here.
While visiting a local human trafficking shelter, I learned that most Korean women are lured into sex trafficking at the young age of 13 or 14 years old, similarly to the situation in Canada. These young girls are often enticed by the promises of money and start working in drinking rooms or kissing rooms, only to find themselves later forced into exploitive situations and under the control of a pimp throughout the 45 Korean red light districts, just like Yong Ju Gol.
Once in the Yong Ju Gol, women work an average of 10 hours a day, experiencing high levels of post traumatic stress disorder due to the intense physical, verbal and sexual abuse that they often suffer from the many johns who pay money to their pimps. Much of this violence is perpetuated through the publications of the extremely violent comic book. I wanted to know for myself if this comic book was actually as bad as I had heard and unfortunately, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time looking through the comics to see a drawing of a naked Korean woman falling out of a building as she was thrown through an broken glass window, hurled at the street below. With this popular comic book being so readily available to all the youth of Korea, this kind of violent behaviour towards prostituted women is normalized and viewed as acceptable.
It was most disappointing to realize that Yong Ju Gol District is over an hour away from Seoul and far past any residential areas. It’s only surrounding landscape is rice fields…and yet Korean men drive intentionally, for hours, to visit Yong Ju Gol and abuse Korean women.
Some may say that “boys will be boys” and that “prostitution is the world’s oldest profession” but I do not settle for either of these excuses. The measure of a man is not to buy sex from, rape, physically assault or murder women and girls. Men have been entrusted with a greater physical strength so that they may use that power to empower others, not to overpower others.
I’m calling out for heroes to answer the silent cries of the exploited and abused Korean women within the Yong Ju Gol District and all other red light districts within Korea! We each have been given the responsibility to be heroes, not villians. To protect and defend those who are weaker than us, not to enslave others.
Calling men and women to form a new Justice League and put an end to the abuse, human rights violations, rape and murder that exist in the streets of Yong Ju Gol and all similar neighbourhoods worldwide.
Calling all true heroes to rise up, defend dignity and triumph over injustice!
Over the last few years, people always tell me,
“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help end human trafficking”
There is a LOT that each and every one of us can do! Here are 3 very simple, very effective things that you can do right now to help end human trafficking.
- Take 45 minutes and watch Hope for the Sold, currently the only documentary that focuses on human trafficking here in Canada. You can find it online here: http://hopeforthesold.com/resource
- Visit slaveryfootprint.org and take the inventory. Contrary to popular belief, we are not far removed from modern day slavery
- Finally, as Valentine’s Day approaches, do child slaves a favour and do NOT buy chocolate that isn’t fair trade. More info on CNN here: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/19/child-slavery-and-chocolate-all-too-easy-to-find/
Yesterday morning I spoke at LifeWomen at Relate Church in Surrey, BC. It was an incredible, deep and powerful morning of speaking truth, dispelling fears, stepping out in faith and fighting for freedom. Life may be hard and it may feel like there is darkness shadowing the world but we are determined to add to the beauty and be part of God’s epic love-story to save the world!
After the service I spoke with one woman, in particular, whose story really resonated with me. Meet Annette Reilly. This bright-eyed, free-spirited woman, rockin an adorable pixie-cut, was overflowing with excitement, joy and anticipation of greater things to come! Upon meeting her, I had no idea that she was about to start chemotherapy for cancer the next day….today.
Today, as she starts her chemotherapy, I want to direct your attention to the convictions of her heart. She has heard many times about human trafficking and is “tired of being a spectator”. She is choosing not to make any more excuses and not allow anything to stop her from standing up for the 27 Million enslaved today. Even as she starts her chemotherapy today, she is thinking of the countless individuals who have it far worse than she does and she is “choosing to take the energy that she does have and commit it to helping others in this world who are suffering.”
Wow. She is standing on her convictions, adding to the beauty and reclaiming a disease that was designed to bring her down and instead, she is using this experience to lift others out of slavery.
I am inspired by her determination to not allow any excuses to hold her back from becoming the person that she was born to be! I encourage you to read her resolutions in her own words HERE.
What is holding you back from joining the movement to re-abolish slavery in the world today?
You can watch the LifeWomen interview here:
Today is January 11, 2012- Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Then read this list of 12 actions that you can take to help fight human trafficking in the world today. Let’s do this now so that next year, we won’t need a “Human Trafficking Awareness Day”.
I can’t even put into words what I am feeling right now. I’ve been sitting here staring at this page… trying to find the right words to express the revolution rising with my heart.
INDIFFERENCE IS NOT AN OPTION
Do Something Now nails it in their trailer for Passion 2012…. we cannot afford to allow our desire for personal comfort stand in the way of freedom for 27+Million people worldwide.
WE ARE THE REASON WHY THEY ARE IN SLAVERY
If there was not a demand for slave-made products and services then there would be no supply.
WE are the ones holding innocent people captive. WE drive the demand for “affordable” clothing, coffee beans, rice, tea, cell phones, computers, diamonds, pornography and prostitution. WE are the ones to blame and WE need to be the ones to answer the call to action!
The time is NOW. The bell has been ringing for centuries but we were too consumed in ourselves to hear. I refuse to be a bystander. I have been given freedom…now it is my turn to fight for the freedom of others.
Over the last three years fighting full-time for freedom, I have been told by numerous people and countless radio interviewers and newspaper journalists that I am overly ambitious or naive. So WHAT?! I believe in a big God who is capable of big things! The “impossible” is irrelevant. The future is changed by people who dare to dream in a better way. The world is changed by people who refuse to accept that status quo when they know that something greater is possible!
Do you BELIEVE that slavery will end?
Then LIVE like you mean it!
I will show you my faith by what I do (James 2:18). Actions speak louder than words and once you truly believe in something, it changes the way that you live every aspect of your life!
I’m don’t want to live lukewarm, “half-ass” or less than God has for me. I want to live WITH CONVICTION and make my faith evident by the way I live each day.
If we want to “make a difference” then we need to be ready to sacrifice it all, live on the edge and join the love revolution of shameless idealists who live with conviction and challenge the status quo, for a world of freedom and radiance!
How will YOU live with conviction this year?
How will YOU show your faith?
How will YOU participate in the movement to re-abolish slavery?
It’s that time of year again! The trees, mountains and sidewalks are covered in a white dusting of snow, sparkling lights drape over our houses, the malls are filled with the sounds of Michael Buble’s new Christmas album while Starbucks is handing out drinks in the signature holiday red cups! Yes, festive cheer and Christmas spirit is most certainly in the air!
This Christmas, let’s remember the real reason why we celebrate. True love came to earth, took the most lowly of positions and began a mission to set us free from the oppressions of this world. Without this, there would be no reason to celebrate. So let us allow the essence of Christmas to permeate the very centre of who we are. This year, let’s give gifts to our loved ones that spread love and freedom to others around the world. These gifts aren’t sparkly or glitzy and don’t have newest cutting edge technology but they shine with a radiance that is beyond compare!
Here is my Christmas list of gift ideas for you and your loved ones and the world.
Freedom Tea – This is a unique rooibos blend that I created in partnership with Aromatica Teas in Chilliwack, BC. Green rooibos, red rooibos, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, and lemongrass, with just a hint of vanilla.. Intense lemon taste in a caffeine free, high antioxidant base. What could be better? Only one thing: proceeds from this tea are donated to International Justice Mission Canada to fight human trafficking internationally.
50 gram bag- $6.00 and 100 gram bag- $11.00 To order Freedom Tea click HERE.
The “Act Justly” bag from FreeSet. Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. They make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but our business is freedom. Freeset would like to see the 10,000 sex workers in their neighborhood empowered with the choice of leaving a profession they never chose in the first place.
The Freedom Scarf. Available in four different styles the soft hand-woven accessories are made by a group of women from vulnerable communities in Delhi, India. These scarves help make a huge difference to these local artisan communities by boosting their economy and providing sustainable employment. The Freedom Scarf is available through the Not for Sale store.
Jewelry from Rahab Ministries Thailand. I visited with Rahab Ministries while I was in Bangkok, Thailand earlier this year and was blow away by the beauty of the women that I met there! Their radiance far outshines the beauty of the jewelry they make because they know what it means the live in true freedom. When your purchase jewelry from Rahab Ministries, you are showing the women that they are valuable. I have two necklaces from Rahab and I wear them all the time! I am certain that you and your loved ones will be as happy with your purchases as I am!
New to the World Vision Gift Guide this year is a suggested gift of $75 to help a sexually exploited child.Over one million children — most of them girls — are exploited in the global sex trade. Your gift will help bring hope and healing through World Vision trauma centers where children receive safe shelter, medical care, counseling, vocational training and when possible, reintegration into safe and loving homes. Please, I can’t stress how important this is. You can offer your love and support here.
And finally, if you really want to make a lasting impact this Christmas and show true love and give freedom. Then I can’t think of anything greater than making a long term commitment to provide healthcare, education and support to a child. This is prevention of modern day slavery! Please, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. A child is waiting for you here.
I was only a year old when it happened. I didn’t learn about it until much later and even today I cannot even imagine what it would have felt like— not knowing if you were going to live or die. On December 6, 1989 a lone gunman entered into a polytechnique school, separated the women from the men, terrorized the female students for 45 minutes before cornering the women, shooting 14 and then killing himself. For the 14 victims of the Montreal Massacre, their only crime was that they were born female and studying to enter in to the profession of their choice. This was the world that I was born into.
Yesterday was the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Today the most horrific human rights abuses and the greatest challenge of our time is the violence against women that is normalized and silent throughout our world. Last Thursday I spoke at a school-wide assembly at Rideau District High School in Elgin. The assembly was focused on ending violence against women and encouraging each student to treat one another with the dignity and respect that they all deserve as people. They polled 50 of the female students in the halls and asked them if they had ever been called disrespectful or derogatory names to their faces. 45 of the 50 students said yes. There is an idea in our Canadian schools that women are less capable than men, less intelligent than men or less valuable than men and in our Canadian high schools….its treated as a joke! 22 years ago today, that attitude fostered outrageous violence that claimed the lives of 14 young women who only wanted to be valued, contributing members of Canadian society.
This is why I fight to end human trafficking. Human trafficking has been defined as a form of violent against women. 80% of all human trafficking victims are female and 50% are under the age of 18 years old. My world shook upside down when, five years ago, I found out that a neighbour of mine, from Walnut Grove, Langley- a suburb of Vancouver, had lost a daughter to human trafficking. Their fourteen year old daughter was stolen from them, lured into prostitution by a trafficker who posed as a boyfriend. I do not believe that people were made for the purposes of cheap labour or cheap sex. We hold inherent value that is so much greater than that. And that is at the heart of ending human trafficking and ending violence against women.
We must continue to work together. Ending Human Trafficking, ending violence against women and ending sexual exploitation are more important than partisan lines. Fighting human trafficking is not a calling or a passion, it is the duty and responsibility of every Canadian and every human being on the planet. It is not charity, or doing good in order to “give back”, it is defending dignity, valuing human life… it is justice and it is all our responsibility.
As long as violence against women remains, as long as I have to fear to walk back to my car at night, as long as women are still being sold as commodities on street corners, in penthouses in massage parlous… as long as young girls are told that their value is placed in how they look, we will not be the Canada that we aspire to be, that we are capable of being and that we were born to be.
Today Canada has the opportunity to be a beacon of light to the rest of the world. From coast, to coast, to coast- this is our land, this is our home and we cannot tolerate violence against women, we will not tolerate the exploitation of human lives, Not in our cities, not in our country, not in our world!
People are not to be bought and sold! We are more than that. You are more than that. The fourteen women who lost their lives 22 years ago are more than that. The hundreds of Canadian women who have gone missing or murdered are more than that. The thousands women and children who are bought and sold within Canadian borders are more than that. We must be the true North, strong and free.
Free from violence.
Free from exploitation.
I don’t know how to describe family without sounding cheesy. Maybe that’s the great thing about family- they’ll take me and my cheesiness… and love me anyway. That’s the beautiful thing about family: Love…unconditional, annoying, messy, fulfilling, “in-your-face” love. I wouldn’t be who I am today without that kind of love. It is this love that has moulded me, shaped me, scolded me, empowered me, made me laugh until my insides hurt and helped me discover who I was born to be. That’s real love. Powerful love. The kind of true love that each of us long for, strive for and were made for.
Familes are the building block to bring life into the world. A home is the place where that life is nurtured and shared. The good times, the bad times, the laughter and pain…family was made because it is not good for any of us to be alone. Children are precious gifts that are entrusted to families so that they will receive the mentorship, protection and encouragement that they need to thrive.
Yet the average age of a human trafficking victim is 12-14 years old. Youth in Canada are incredibly suseptible to exploitation and in many ways, the family has failed them. From sex trafficking to forced labour, human trafficking is happening in Canadian cities everywhere. Most victims of human trafficking fall prey to traffickers due to a lack of education, poverty, drug addiction, history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, low socio-economic status and low self-esteem. Most exploited youth have never experienced a family- they’ve been discarded by their family, abused by their family or even forced into exploitive situations by their family. They need a safe place to call home, a family to belong to, a reason to care, a place of unconditional acceptance and most of all, a place where people believe in them and value them.
Galations 4:7 declares to those who have chosen to live their lives according to God’s plan for them: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
In the context of human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, I find this scripture incredibly beautiful. God takes the ones that the world has used, abused and discarded and makes them part of His Royal Family. I cannot comprehend the grace that He pours out to us and it leaves me in awe every day.
I want all youth in Canada to know their value and their worth. They are not commodities to be bought and sold. They are fiercely loved and created for purpose.
The time has come for them to come home so that they will receive the mentorship, protection and encouragement that they need to thrive. So that they can be lifted up with the understanding that they have been created to bring new life into the world and glorify their Father in Heaven.
Tara Teng- Member of the “Coming Home” Family
Find out more information on how to support the “Coming Home” Community here.
Have you ever thought about where your products come from? Who grows the food you eat, makes the clothes you wear, mines the stones and minerals for your jewelry, harvests the cocoa in your chocolate, roasts your coffee beans, puts together your electronics and is involved in extracting the raw resources and works on the production of the products that you use when you open your fridge, closet, drawer or drive your car?
I recently did an online assessment of the products that I use and discovered, based on the raw material in the products that I own, I have 28 slaves working for me.
I am talking about literal slavery- not just sweatshops, in which men, women and children are forced into providing labour, against their will, for their owners who control every aspect of their lives from when the slaves sleep, eat, and work. Many human trafficking slaves are also victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Human trafficking victims can be slaves in their own country and to experience human trafficking does not mean that you have been transported against your will across an international border. It means that you are being forced to provide labour, services or organs and failure to provide these services will result in harm to yourself or your loved ones.
So how have you been involved, either directly or indirectly, in the enslavement of people around the world? Our privileged demand for cheaper and more convenient products has created a market where it is profitable to traffick and enslave humans.
Want to know how many slaves work for YOU? Take the quiz at http://slaveryfootprint.org/ and then your consumer power to demand that major corporations and popular brands eliminate forced labour in their products, ensuring that trafficking in humans is something that is no longer profitable.
** If you want to support Guillermo and his family of independent coffee farmers… please visit www.asgreenasitgets.org to purchase some of the BEST Guatemalan coffee you’ve ever had!
Been in Ottawa for over 2 weeks now…I get to live in a historic mansion with awesome people, be challenged in my classes on ethics and leadership, serve my country, dedicate my time to combating human trafficking and protecting the most vulnerable in Canada, learn from an incredible mentor (Joy Smith) and work in a building that has been named “Justice”….wow, I am so blessed!
As great as all these things are, what is even more important than any of these things is that I get to be a DOT. What is a dot, you may ask? Let me explain.
Remember those awesome childhood games that you parents gave you for long car rides and road trips? Or maybe when they knew you’d be sitting in a waiting room with you somewhere and they needed to keep you entertained? Well, I was always a big fan of those games…especially the game “Connect the Dots”. It wasn’t just a car ride game for me. It was genuinely a favourite past-time of mine! I even went as far as “connecting the dots” that had formed on my legs after a long camping trip full of mosquito bites.
Weird childhood habits aside…Connecting the Dots was always a fun game. When you first looked at the page, nothing makes sense, it’s only a bunch of jumbled chaotic dots, covering a page in the same way that stars cluster across the sky. But as you look a little closer and start drawing lines between the dots, connecting them, a beautiful image emerges from the chaos and reveals the purpose of each dot and why it was placed in the location that it was placed. The whole unit would unravel if even one dot was out of place.
I believe that nothing in life happens by chance: We are all created for a unique purpose, calling and destiny. Sometimes we cannot see our purpose and things in our lives may happen that we do not understand. Yet, one day, we will stand back and see the big picture, why things happened the way they did… and when this happens we will find ourselves in a unique place and be able to connect with the other dots around us to form a beautiful image, a work of art, a master piece: something far greater than any of us could ever be on our own.
This is why it is imperative that we must come together. It’s time to rally the troops, gather the gang, call a family meeting and bring everyone together. Human Trafficking is a major reality in the world and it is happening to men, women and children in Canada and worldwide. It is slavery and it must be stopped. Permanently.
Last weekend I was asked to be an honourary guest and speaker at the Toronto segment of the cross-Canada Freedom Relay. A young but powerful NGO, Free-Them , spear-headed the event in T-Dot and brought together all the freedom fighters in the region. Law Enforcement, Front-line anti-human trafficking workers, politicians, survivors and hundreds of passionate individuals joined together for one day and one purpose: to walk side-by-side as we declared that we will work together, support the movement to end modern-day slavery and we will not back down from the fight until freedom for every enslaved individual has been gained.
On the same day, MP Joy Smith and Free-Them announced that they would be starting a new campaign: “PROUD TO BE A DOT”. You see, together, WE are the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Don’t get my wrong…I still desperately want the Canadian Federal Government to design and implement a National Action Plan (I humbly suggest one by the name of “Connecting the Dots”), but I also want to acknowledge that we will be most effective when we are ALL engaged in the battle to end human trafficking.
In the same way that every body part has a job that works together with each other body part for perfect unity and efficiency, the Dots are meant to be lined up and working together. There are some thing that law enforcement does that I cannot do. There are ways that a 10-year old child can inspire a community that a 50-year old might not, because they are the same age of many human trafficking victims. There are ways that health care providers, fire fighters, teachers, “cable guys and neighbours can be the eyes and ears in their communities, working to both prevent and intervene human trafficking. Furthermore, as concerned Canadian citizens who want to see human trafficking end and freedom reign, we have the incredible responsibility to work with our government and our leaders, to help them do what is needed to end human trafficking and protect the most vulnerable in our society. We are each a dot…a piece of the puzzle… the solution to ending human trafficking.
Wow. Connecting the Dots….can you imagine what we can achieve together? Are you starting to get a sense of how beautiful this movement really is?
Yes, unity is a beautiful thing. As we took to the streets, hundreds of round, purple balloons began lifting towards the sky. The streets were lined with bouncing dots, energetically waving in the air as we shouted for freedom. The atmosphere was electrifying. It is a beautiful thing when the “Dots” come together. The future is altered when the dots come together.
I am PROUD TO BE A DOT. I am proud to do my part in ending human trafficking and protecting the vulnerable. I am proud to stand next to all the other dots across Canada, knowing that I am placed exactly where I need to be. I am proud to add my voice to the freedom cry that is rising up all around the world. I am proud to do whatever needs to be done so that freedom is achieved and slavery, in all its forms, is eradicated forever. Join us…let’s be “Dots” together! For freedom!
Miss Canada 2011 and a proud “Dot” in the fight to end human trafficking.
It is currently early Thursday morning…1:09AM (EST). I’m sitting on a couch, across from a century old fireplace in a beautiful historic mansion that was built in 1909. I have just completed my first week living in the Nation’s Capital of Ottawa and I love it here. I am a new student for the Fall 2011 class at the Laurentian Leadership Centre and tomorrow afternoon I will begin my internship for MP Joy Smith at her office on Parliament Hill.
At this early hour, as with any hour of the day, Facebook asks me the same question that it does every time I visit the networking site…“What’s on your mind?” . After spending 9 days in Canada’s capital city, located just blocks away from some of the most influential offices, departments and individuals in our country, and living in a mansion that is literally holding the namesake of leadership, there is one central thing on my mind…“Leadership: what is it and how do we do it?”
On Tuesday night I stumbled across a Twitter Chat and Hashtag…#LeadfromWithin. There I found many like-minded individuals who we seeking to answer the same question of leadership that I was/am.
Here are some that gave me food for thought:
- Strategic/ tactical
- Understand followers
- Ability to connect and relate with followers
- Overcome failure
- Listen well
- Sense of humor
- Takes responsibility
- Ability to unite
- Deal with conflict
- Role models
- Loyalty to their friends
- Thick skin to deal with being a leader
- Big picture thinking
- Makes the right choices even when they are tough choices
- Brands their image
- Knowledge of a process
- Take advice
Don’t ever think that you are too small to make an impact or too young to change the world. 15-year old Anna Demian- my teammate and fellow abolitionist is part of the “Ignite the Road to Justice” tour that is travelling across Canada from August 15-September 4th.
She isn’t waiting until she’s older to start making a difference; she’s using her voice for justice right now! She is proving by her actions that all you need is a heart to end human trafficking and the commitment to do whatever it takes to see the job through.
Well done, Anna! I am so proud of you and thrilled to stand with you in the fight to end human trafficking!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2011
MISS CANADA CALLS BC SOLICITOR GENERAL TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OCTIP
VANCOUVER, BC- Miss Canada Tara Teng is calling upon BC Solicitor General Shirley Bond to review and set the record straight on the status of funding for the BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP). “OCTIP plays a critical role in combating human trafficking in BC and we want to know whether Minister Bond is committed to this office, “ says Teng.
“Human trafficking is a serious problem in Canada and combating it needs everyone’s involvement.” says anti-human trafficking activist and current Miss Canada 2011, Tara Teng. This statement comes just days after the B.C. Government quietly reduced funding to B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP). Until just recently, the B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP) provided assistance to victims of Human Trafficking through a 24/7 support hotline, victim services, training for front-line responders and raising public awareness. These services were critical for both foreign and Canadian victims of Human Trafficking.
“It is crucial that the B.C. Government does everything possible to ensure that vulnerable people are protected from exploitation.” Says Teng. Teng emphasizes that we need clarification so that the work of this important office continues to stay strong.
Teng has been active in fighting human trafficking for a number of years and regularly speaks out publicity on the crisis, hoping to raise awareness of human trafficking. “It’s a long, uphill battle but I am encouraged because everywhere I look there are concerned citizens standing up and getting serious about ending human exploitation. We will not tolerate this any longer- not in our cities, our nation or our world! We want the B.C. Government to take this seriously, because we do!”
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