Monthly Archives: June 2011

Meeting Charimaya Tamang

Charimaya and Me

Since coming to DC four weeks ago, I must say that nothing really surprises me anymore.

On Monday, as I was going through a security check at the State Department, I turned around in line, only to see a fellow classmate of mine from Texas standing directly behind me.

That same day, I also had the pleasure of meeting at the TIP Report release, for the first time, a girl who does Red Thread at Washington University.  We’d talked many times on the phone but never met in person.

Needless to say, when I met the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Hero from Nepal on the sidewalk while walking home from my internship today, it wasn’t the first time this week that my world had grown perpetually smaller.

Secretary Clinton and Charimaya Tamang

Charimaya Tamang was honored on June 27 at the State Department TIP Report release for her exceptional work as one of the founders of Shakti Samuha in Nepal.  Charimaya, a victim of sex trafficking herself, was taken to India at the age of 16.  After 22 months in an Indian brothel, the government of India rescued her; however, going home to Nepal was not easy, and Charimaya faced incredible stigmatization from her community.  Nevertheless, with great courage, Charimaya became the first individual to personally file a case against her traffickers with district police, and because of her bravery, eight perpetrators were convicted and sentenced.

Secretary Clinton and Charimaya Tamang (with TIP Hero Award)

I had wanted to meet Charimaya at the State Department following the TIP release ceremony.  Watching Secretary Clinton hand her the Hero Award nearly moved me to tears, and having lived in Nepal for the past few months, I was so excited at the notion of speaking in small bits of Nepali again and learning more about her life there.  Unfortunately, she left before I had the chance.

Of course, meeting under such circumstances would have been much too normal and expected anyways.

Instead, I happened to be walking home today when I did a double-take and realized that I had just walked by the woman I most wanted to meet in all of DC!  I quickly turned around, bowed in customary Nepali fashion, and said, “Namaste, Ms. Tamang!”

We stopped to talk on the sidewalk for a few minutes; her translator/host helped us communicate.  As it was, Charimaya was on her way to meet the Ambassador of Nepal to the U.S., so the man with her gave me his business card and asked if I would be available to meet with them later in the evening.  It was so unexpected that I nearly wanted to hug him on the spot for suggesting such an opportunity!

Ambassador-at-Large: Luis CdeBaca

So, this evening, I skipped out of economics class a few minutes early (much to my chagrin!) and went downtown to Charimaya’s hotel to spend more time with her and the man accompanying her while in DC.  It was such a fantastic experience, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to be with Nepalese people again, learning more about human trafficking in Nepal and gaining a greater knowledge and understanding of how many wonderful, dedicated people are working to end modern day slavery in that country and around the world!

I encourage you all to at least take a brief glance at the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (it’s a few hundred pages long), and if nothing else, read the sections on Nepal and the United States!

-B

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Alive Festival- Mineral City, Ohio

We headed to Ohio this past week for the Alive Festival. It rained on and off, but, despite the muddy playground inside the merch tent, there were some upsides. When the downpours would come, masses would cram inside the merch tent to wait out the storm. There was a group of people crowded up next to our table so I offered them some reading material for the wait and they gladly accepted. Awareness spread. 🙂

We met some awesome people, some shared some really touching stories with us about pasts of sexual abuse.

One of our new friends even returned the next day with a poem about Red Thread:

How can we help the red thread? To stop this problem, where will we be led?

It may be to sacrifice yourself and time, or maybe to write a little rhyme.

You know we could all buy a wrist band, and that’ll help stop kids from being sold into a new land.

There is also some really cool clothes, now if you get those,

be ready to stand up and explain, why this topic shouldn’t be considered mundane.

Get ready to tell them what the problem is, and how to stop this horrible biz.

Anything helps: volunteering, purchases, and prayer time.

So what will you do to stop the sex trafficking crime?

 

I was also able to finally meet Todd from iTickets in person, he stopped by the table as we were doing part of our podcast video.

Seabird had a stunning performace the first night, and sent quite a few fans our way.

We were also mentioned on RadioU’s morning show and by a speaker on one of the stages.

Dawn from Fireflight passed by our table and gave us a fist pump and Hello Somebody came by our table later and said that she came over to them and said, “I love the Red Thread Movement.” ha ha, we love her too. The Fireflight street team frequented our table and became good friends of ours, they had picked up their bracelets last year from Don’t Wake Aislin and were sporting the second edition Red Thread bracelets ha ha.

We ended up bringing in around $2,800 and almost selling out of bags! By the end of the week, the crowd was speckled with red bracelets and several youth groups joined the Red Thread forces. We also were excited to add To Every Cynic to Red Thread Music. They are a great group of guys on fire for what God has planned for them and a huge heart for the cause.

As for other Red Thread news, we are now excited to announce that we will have our own official FREE office space courtesy of ACU. They wanted to ask us personally if we were interested and we were quick to take them up on the offer! Abilene Christian University has been a huge help to us this past year and they’re pulling through yet again!

 


HELLO my name is…Ashley Close

Ashley Close (left)

I am not going to lie, when Brittany first told me about her idea of the Red Thread Movement, I didn’t have much faith in its success. I of little faith could not foresee what God could do with just a simple idea and three passionate and willing young girls. In the same way Jesus fed the five thousand with just a loaf of bread and two fish God has been able to make this Movement bigger than we could have ever imagined. That’s what I love about this Movement. It is so much bigger than Brittany, Sam and Rachel. It is so much bigger than ACU. And it is so much bigger than just a simple red bracelet.
I have been so blessed to be a part of this Movement. I consider myself a messenger. I want to do whatever I can to spread the Movement farther. One way I was able to do this was when I studied abroad in Oxford, England, last spring semester. Sam gave me some bracelets to take over so the Movement could move across the pond. At first I was slightly unsure of where I would end up selling the bracelets. After visiting St. Aldates Anglican Church with a professor, the campus minister invited me to attend a girl’s tea where I could sell the bracelets. I was a little nervous since I didn’t know anyone at the tea, and I was not sure how girls from a culture different from my own would react to the bracelets. However, I was overwhelmed with joy as the girls were so excited about the Movement and more than willing to buy bracelets. The tea was somewhat of a trial run, so from that encouraging response I hoped to sell even more in Oxford. I found a Fair Trade shop in town that was willing to sell the bracelets, but we ran into a rather large obstacle with customs fees so it ended up not working out. This was big disappointment. I guess every Movement comes with its set backs. However I was blessed when Dani, a girl I went to high school with, saw pictures I had posted on Facebook of selling the bracelets at the tea and messaged me to tell me that her and her friends at Florida State University fell in love with the Movement and were all buying bracelets. It still amazes me that such a small thing like Facebook could spread the Movement all the way to Florida. So although I was not able to sell as many bracelets as I would have liked, some good things were still able to happen.
Last week my sister and I took the Movement up to my childhood church camp, Palmetto Bible Camp, in upstate South Carolina. I was shocked upon arrival to find that so many kids were already wearing the bracelets. One lady from Paducah, Kentucky, was actually selling the bracelets, which ended up being really good since my sister and I only had 30 bracelets left. Another kid told me a girl was selling them at his high school in Memphis. Other kids had purchased the bracelets at the Winterfest youth conference in Gatlinburg in February. I couldn’t believe how big the Movement had become in just a year. That night I spoke to all the campers about the message of the Red Thread Movement. I was not quite sure what to say, but I really feel like God gave me the words. I could not have received a better response. Immediately after my talk the kids swarmed the table with their money ready to buy a bracelet. Our 30 bracelets were quickly gone so I was so happy that God had provided us with more bracelets. My heart swelled as I watched the campers excitement about being a part of this noble cause. There truly is nothing more fulfilling than working with God in spreading freedom.

WE WANT YOU FOR THE RED THREAD BLOG!

The Red Thread Movement is all about people working together to combat human trafficking!  So, instead of us at Red Thread Headquarters just blogging about our experiences, we’re going to be posting pictures and stories taken and written by the people involved in the Red Thread Movement: students, musicians, youth, churches, companies and the list could go on.  We want to hear from you, and we want you to be telling other people reading this blog about your passion for ending modern-day slavery!

If you would like to submit a post or pictures for the blog, please send it to Brittany@RedThreadMovement.org.


Ichthus Festival- Wilmore, KY

Yesterday we wrapped up a great week at Ichthus Music Festival in Kentucky. We raised over $3,500 and sold over 800 bracelets there, despite all the weather troubles!

We arrived to find the tent we were going to be in had collapsed! We waited with the other vendors as they repaired it, but had to wait until the next morning to open up shop. However, we were able to enjoy a few shows as a result and came across some great talent in The City Harmonic (who I still claim has a strong resemblance to Seabird stylistically, a compliment on both their behalf).

The next day, we had several of our supporting bands play and were able to catch up with Write This Down and The Wedding.

Nate and Johnny (Write This Down)

 I was also delighted to finally meet Taylor and Karen Spurlock as well as David and his sweet wife with The Turn Around.

Chelsey, Taylor, David, Kristina, and Karen

The second night, we shot some promos with The Wedding and were packing up the table after they headed out when we discovered that they’d left their cash box behind. I knew most  of their phones were dead so I texted a few people to try and get ahold of them. Luckily, Matt from Wavorly came through and we were able to reach Trevor. I could hear Jake in the background saying “The cash box? what?… ohhhh!” ha ha and he came back to get it. I’m pretty sure Kelcie and I panicked more than they did over it, thinking they were on the road driving farther and farther away, but it turned out that they were still on the festival grounds.

The Wedding

Ivoryline played the third day and I handed off some more bracelets to them after, I believe they said they were heading to Sweden soon, which is pretty cool. Wes let me know that they’re really interested in doing a Red Thread tour, so hopefully we can get one organized with them in the near future!

Ivoryline

I also stopped by to say hi to some old friends in Mikeschair and ended up talking to Jesse’s wife, Sarah, for a while about their interest in doing something to benefit sex trafficking. We’ll talk more about it later but there could be some great things that come out of that. I know that they do some amazing outreaches through their fan base and she seemed to have some really well put-together ideas for what they would like to accomplish through it. I’m excited to talk with her more about it!

 That night, I was coming back to our booth from the City Harmonic table and I ran into Shane, Aaron Gillespie’s keyboarder. He was still sporting his bracelet and he said Aaron and everyone else still wears theirs as well. He also said that the benefit show they played for us was one of their favorite shows on the tour! They ended up shutting down the merch tent to the public early so Kelc and I were able to pack up and watch the end of The Almost’s show with Shane.

We had 2 new bands join on the spot that week, Black Diamond Fiasco out of Indiana, and Above the Abyss out of Michigan. The Cafe on the Square in Columbia, KY is also going to be selling bracelets now. However, a lot more applications were handed out so we will be adding even more new members soon!

Also, I did a phone interview for a radio station out of Austin, 106.7 The Source. And the host, Clutch, has a show called the Metal Meltdown. His listeners call themselves the Metalocracy and he did a segment called “The Metalocracy Gives Back” and featured us alongside RYFO and HAMM. It was my first live radio interview but it was incredibly fun. I was sitting in my car, trying to block out the booming music coming from the stages surrounding us, and a very surreal feeling hit me. I was sitting there talking about Red Thread, my car was shaking from the base from Le Crae, I looked out my window towards the main stage and saw fireworks lighting up the sky from Red’s set, and I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing what I loved and that is an incredible blessing. God has been so good to me in all that He has done in my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I used to pray that He would keep my life from ever being boring and that He would use me to do crazy things that required great faith and He has definitely pulled through. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s fantastic! Anyway, Clutch said that, when we meet at Cornerstone, he wants me to personally tie a bracelet on his wrist lol and I would be honored to.

We had the stinkin sweetest booth neighbors in the world. The couple that ran a jewelry store to our right gave us cold water and let us charge our phones with their electricity. And the band to our right, This Fires Embrace, were truly living out Christ’s example of living in humble servitude. Before we’d even met them, we were savoring this wonderful breeze that we had coming thorugh our area and we realized that they had turned one of their extra fans to face us. They would check in with us every now and then to chat and we would find cold bottles of water on the edge of our table that Aaron had brought us from backstage. One of our side banners kept blowing over with the storm winds and we were adjusting it once and found one of their CD boxes had been placed behind it to hold it down. They didn’t make a show about helping others, they just did it, not for attention but because they cared. I wish that my life looked more like that, filled with random acts of kindness that didn’t draw attention or recognition, but were done out of humility.

Our final day, we had a lot of people stop by the table and ask some really good questions! It was fantastic! Some people even would pull up a chair and sit with us as we explained more about trafficking and slavery to them. I was even surprised to find that a lot of younger kids were asking a lot of questions and wanting to get involved. It was great to see that people actually wanted to know where the money was going, instead of just buying a bracelet to fit in with their friends. They wanted to know that they were making a difference and they were hungry to give. We even had two girls come up with a wad of money that they had found in the Port-A-Pottys that they wanted to donate to us (which we found comical). Once, we had to close the table to run an errand and we came back to find that someone had tucked a bill into our table cover. The kids (and adults) we met were incredibly caring and they were excited to have the opportunity to get involved in something outside of themselves.

One girl told us that “You and TWLOHA are my two favorite causes.” I love that kids can come to festivals like these and learn so much about the world. The vendors and non-profits represented are so eclectic and it’s a great opportunity for them to educate themselves. The Love Alliance and Morning After Ministries were two other outreaches that correlated with us rather well.

The final night, we returned to a flooded tent and settled into our soaked sleeping bags, grateful that it wasn’t cold. In the morning, we hoped to sleep in until at least 9, since we had been running on about 4 hours of sleep each night after closing, loading up, and doing inventory, but we awoke at 7 to the loud speakers announcing that we had 15 minutes until we got hit by a huge storm.  We were able to pack up fast and had just hopped in the car when the downpour came. We went ahead and made an early departure for Ohio, hoping it would clear up enough for us to reorganize my chaotically stuffed Rav-4, but the rain followed us all the way to Akron. Today, we were enjoying a wacky sub at Mr. Zub’s when a guy nearby informed us that we’d be under a huge thunderstorm until Wednesday night. We’ll enjoy the security of our host’s house while we can! We have a fantastic host who gave us a guide to Downtown Akron, it’s a delightfully quirky place with incredibly friendly people.

Alive starts up later this week and then we’re off to Cornerstone! Can’t wait!

-S


Traffick Jam

Red Thread Music’s summer tour of awareness has officially kicked off.

We made a stop in Ft. Worth at the 2nd Annual Traffick Jam benefit show at the Grotto and were warmly welcomed by the Eucatastrophe church staff that was already sporting their bracelets. We were able to speak about trafficking and received an enthusiastic post-speech response involving a “Yeah, get those traffickers!” and, after one band’s shout-out, members of the audience pop-corned facts about Red Thread shouting “They’re only 3 dollars!” and “They’re handmade!” as they pumped their Red Thread laden fists in the air.

We also did a presentation for CNN Freedom Project’s paper airplane challenge. Tripp Mathis, our host for the evening, had paper airplanes littered across the premisis for people to write trafficking statistics and letters to the victims on. We took a couple photos to submit.

By the end of the night, the place felt like home. We had a pretty wide range in audiences and were able to have some good conversations about trafficking while meeting some good folks at the Mosaic Family Services that run a safe house in Dallas. The proceeds from the show went to benefit the work they are doing.

Yesterday we made it to Arkansas and headed on to Nashville today. We’re going to talk to some boutique owners tomorrow about carrying us in their stores and hopefully catch a few shows before heading to Kentucky.

We’ve been blessed with really smooth travel so far, and my car has held up well despite the weight of the merch. If you’re in our path, feel free to lighten the load 🙂 and pray that we continue to have safe travels.

-S


Exploitation in the Sudan

I wanted to pass on the alarming update shared with me yesterday by Kimberly Smith at Make Way Partners:

 

“Lual Atak called me yesterday to let me know the Islamic government has re-employed the rebels out of Uganda (LRA) to expand their terror upon Sudan. Sudan is the largest country in all of Africa, and so the Islamic government has traditionally aligned themselves with this rebel group to flank Southern Sudan. They are the ones who captured 300 children (mostly orphans) from our village the first year we began building Hope for Sudan.

 

On Wednesday of this week, the LRA attacked another village near our orphanage Hope for Sudan; this is our newest orphanage in Sudan currently caring for about 40 orphans while we are building room for more. Hope for Sudan is also where our American missionary couple Kevin, Shalene, and baby Abigail live.

 

Although we cannot confirm numbers as yet, we do know many were wounded, some were killed, and others were captured—drug off as the spoils of victory. Lual Atak said, “It is really so very terrible! They gathered all the little children together and started killing their people right in front of their eyes. The children were so terrorized. The LRA then made the children begin killing their own parents. After the slaughter, the boys were forced to carry large metal barrels, and the girls were forced to fetch water to fill the barrels. They then had to build fires around the barrels. While the water began to boil, the children were forced to hack up their parents and fellows bodies and throw their dismembered parts in the boiling water. After sometime, the children were forced to eat their own parents and fellows flesh…once the LRA knew the children were so traumatized they would do anything, kill anyone, and not try to run away, they left the village with their new soldiers and sex slaves.”

 

A BBC article documents pieces of this sort of attack: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15117683,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-environment-4553-rdf

 

We are working diligently to secure a backup site for these orphans if the LRA targets our village next, which is their history. Another issue we are working through is the fact that we have a team of American college students who are set to leave the US in just a few days to spend their entire summer at Hope for Sudan.

 

I praise God for how He continues to resurrect Lual Atak’s childhood as a boy soldier by keeping him closely connected to those from whom he won favor through his faithful service. He keeps us well informed as he communicates daily with military generals making decisions. So far, no ambush at his orphanage, New Life. 

 

As we have said all along, all these things have been ruminating during the last six years of “peace.” All along my soul has cried out, “You say, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”

 

Now here we are. We plead for your broken hearted prayers as we limp through the gnarled path of leadership, seeking wisdom in chaos. I often feel as though I am sticking my hands deep into the muddy holes of a riverbed, hoping to pull out a whale of a fish for dinner, while full well knowing that what I grab hold of just might be a python of a snake that will crush the very life out of me.

 

Thanking God for the Resurrection,

K”

 

I encourage all of you to take a look at the work Make Way Partners does, they are a fantastic organization fighting human trafficking and exploitation around the world.

 

www.makewaypartners.org

 

 

 

 

I also got an update from VBB:

 

“Please be praying for the nation of Nepal, as they are preparing to draft a new constitution. Article 160 of the proposed constitution would make it illegal for Christians to share their faith. It would be punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.”

 

I hope to share more as I learn more.

 

-S