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Posts Categorized: Araminta Freedom Initiative

2015 Maryland Human Trafficking Legislation

This week is an important week for MD human trafficking legislative lobbying. As a Maryland citizen, you have a voice and can use it to bring freedom to victims of human trafficking.

Lend Your Voice

The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force is supporting several pieces of crucial legislation that will be heard in committee this week.  Professional members of the Task Force will be providing testimony in support of the legislation in committees. And we need to tell our representatives that we want their support of these bills. 

Here is the schedule of the hearings.  Please call or write your representatives this week and urge them for their support.

Tuesday, March 3rd:
HB 905 (Trafficking as an Affirmative Defense, with Necessity Defense)- House Judiciary Committee (MD Issue Brief Affirmative Defense)
HB 456 (Safe Harbor Working Group)- House Judiciary Committee (MD Safe Harbor Brief)
SB 521 (Safe Harbor Working Group)- Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

Wednesday, March 4th:
SB 520 (Trafficking as an Affirmative Defense, without Necessity Defense)- Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

Friday, March 6th:
SJ 3 (Honoring HT Victims During WWII)- Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee (Senate Joint Resolution 3- Honoring Victims)

Thank you for using your voice for those whose voices are not heard.

October Volunteer Spotlight – Tara

“I’m not law enforcement or a social worker. Is there really anything I can do to end human trafficking?” We often hear this from members of the community, who become passionate to see trafficking end, but do not know if there is a place for them in this work. At Araminta the answer is a resounding, YES, we need everyone and that includes YOU!”

Our greatest resource is our volunteers. We have volunteers from all different backgrounds, professions, and each have been inspired to join Araminta in a different way. Each volunteer contributes to furthering Araminta’s mission using his or her own strengths and gifts. We know that our mission to see the end of domestic minor sex trafficking will require the entire community coming together and taking a stand. Our volunteers and supporters have given so much to this mission and we are so thankful for them.

Each month, we highlight the story of volunteer that has joined us in our mission. Their story may be the beginning of your story becoming a part of Araminta.

Meet Tara, AEM Training Team Coordinator

Tara 1Tara was part of Araminta’s first volunteer training in March of 2012. She quickly became an integral part of our Awaken Equip Mobilize (AEM) training team and is currently the team coordinator for AEM training. If that wasn’t enough, Tara has been competing in various running, triathlons, and swims throughout the year.  During 2014 Tara has completed (or will complete): 4 open water swims (including a 9 and 10 mile swim!), a 5k, a 10K, a sprint triathlon and a winter indoor tri relay as the swimmer.  She has used these races as a platform to raise awareness about domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and raised almost $1,000 for Araminta.  When asked why she swims and fundraises, Tara answered, “The victims of DMST that I volunteer with Araminta for, that Araminta exists for, have had freedom stolen from them. When I swim in open water the feeling is almost indescribable but freedom is pretty accurate. No lane lines, no walls to stop or turn at, just water and sky. The symbolism of that action in contrast with those who cannot just go is why I keep going… Everyone doesn’t have to, nor can, swim for 5 hours in the ocean. But nearly everyone can give $20. My pitch is I’ll do the swimming if you do the giving. Do what you can is the clear message.“

How do you volunteer with Araminta?

I am the AEM Training Coordinator working with a volunteer team on curriculum design and logistics to equip future volunteers with the information and tools necessary to volunteer with Araminta in many different ways.

What fundraising races have you done?  How close are you to your goal?

I filled my year with races this year, so far 6 events have been completed including 3 open water swims, a 5k, a sprint triathlon and a winter indoor tri relay as the swimmer. All of these have been in support of Araminta through raising awareness and funds. I’m close to hitting the $1,000 raised mark through 20 different donors from all across the country.

Why did you decide to do all of these races?

It started with one goal of completing the Chesapeake Bay 4.4 mile swim in June, which included work last year to qualify. As I researched other open water swims for the rest of the year, a 10 mile river swim October 4th caught my eye as a new kind of challenge. I had to apply in the winter and I did not expect to be selected to participate in the inaugural event in Richmond. When I got the email that I had been selected my jaw dropped. At that point the longest distance I had completed in an open water event was 1 mile. But this year the plan was to go from that 1 mile to 3 miles in May, 4.4 miles in June, 9 miles in July and then the 10 miler in October. It’s going to be a crazy adventure for sure.

What motivates you to do the fundraising races and how do you share your passion with those you are asking to give?

The victims of DMST that I volunteer with Araminta for, that Araminta exists for, have had freedom stolen from them. When I swim in open water the feeling is almost indescribable but freedom is pretty accurate. No lane lines, no walls to stop or turn at, just water and sky. The symbolism of that action, in contrast with those who cannot just go, is why I keep going. For many of the people I reached out to for support, hearing about DMST was news. Over the months of emails and social media posts, I’ve made anyone reading the information at last aware that this is happening here. For some of them giving financially has been the next response. Everyone doesn’t have to, nor can, swim for 5 hours in the ocean. But nearly everyone can give $20. My pitch is I’ll do the swimming if you do the giving. Do what you can is the clear message.

Why do you volunteer with Araminta?

When I attended the very first action night I already knew I wanted to be a part of the mission. Hearing the mission statement, “As we ourselves cease all active and passive participation in the many forms of the exploitive sex industry” – accountability for our own actions, specifically PASSIVE – struck a chord with me. We all have to do our part to move the mission forward and never settle for just ok.  Beyond the mission statement as someone who works with Diversity and Inclusion focused initiatives in my full time job, the unifying principle of “Provide a platform for unity among all those who join in the effort” was a cementing statement for me. As a Christian, I have very strong beliefs that I base decisions on but I am keenly aware that my foundation is not the same as everyone else. Recognizing that and stating it as a principle for the organization was something else I could easily stand behind. Having been aware of human trafficking in the states on a very basic level for several years, it wasn’t until Araminta that I knew the breadth of the issue in our own neighborhoods.

I had recently completed time volunteering with conferences and conventions in the northeast and was looking for a way to plug into a non-profit locally that I could really whole heartedly support the mission and vision of and that could use me. The timing was perfect as my event management and training and curriculum design backgrounds could fit with the volunteer training team. The past 2 years have gone by quickly but we’ve been able to do so much. But of course there is still plenty of work to still be done. The planning and moving forward never stops.

What is your favorite part of being a volunteer?

It’s the “aha” moments I get to see while I sit in the back of training. Sometimes it’s from another member of training team listening in on a session for the 3rd time and something new hits them. Other times it’s from the future volunteers realizing what we are doing isn’t just a “pie in the sky” dream but a real mission with teeth to it that will mean their grandchildren may be reading about DMST in their history books as a thing of the past in Maryland.

We are so thankful for Tara and all that she has contributed to Araminta! If you would like to become a certified volunteer with Araminta, our next training session starts Oct. 23rd. Registration is now open at: https://aramintafreedom.org/volunteer-training/

Slavery Has a New Name

Frederick_Douglass_c1855“They would not call it ‘slavery’, but some other name. Slavery has been fruitful in giving itself names… and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume…” – Fredrick Douglas (speech at 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 10, 1865)

The great abolitionist predicted that slavery would always exist, even if it needed to change its name. 130 years later we now know what form slavery has taken. In Maryland, it has taken the form of human trafficking of our US children.

It is hard to believe that this still takes place on our soil, but the Department of Justice estimates that approximately 300k children are at risk for child trafficking into the commercial sex each year. Just a month ago the FBI rescued 168 children from trafficking and 2 of those were here in Baltimore. In the past year, 62 children have been identified as victims of trafficking. And we know we are just scratching the surface of the number of children who are exploited here in our state.

Araminta’s mission is to awaken, equip, and mobilze our community to end the trafficking of children in our state. So we engage our community in several ways. First we do prevention and intervention seminars with adults who can intervene on behalf of exploited children or those at most risk. We do this through the school system and have trained nearly 1500 educators and student service workers to intervene on behalf of their students. We also work with hotels to keep the exploitation of children out of their business and create traffic free environment. And we provide services for the children who have been rescued to walk beside them as they rebuild their lives and provide for their needs.

When Maryland voted to join the Union and fight against slavery, we were called “the First Redeemed.” We want to be that again. We want to be the first to end the modern day slavery of children. But we can’t do it without our entire community standing together. We believe there will be a day when those who would exploit realize that they are no longer welcome in Maryland because the people simply won’t allow it.

From One Boomer to Another

Image Found via Creative Commons

OK, so I’m old! I said it. I won’t say how old, but, I’m old. I’m old enough to remember the 60’s. I’m old enough to be retired. I’m a Baby Boomer.

Baby Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964. We make up about a quarter of the US population. Like me, there are a lot of us Baby Boomers dropping out of the work force and dropping into the “serving” industry because, even though we are old, we want to continue to make a difference with our lives.

As Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.” I don’t want to go silently into the night. I want our generation to rekindle the passion of the 60’s. Dr. King also said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” I’ve devoted my time and energy to solving a massive problem. That problem is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children within U.S. borders. It is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 years.

Will you join me in becoming engaged in the battle to end trafficking?

When asked why Baltimore is such a favorite target for sex trafficking, a rescued child victim responded that it is because no one cares. We often hear that prostitution is a victimless crime, that it is the oldest profession, that by legalizing it, the “bad effects” (disease and drugs) will be controlled. But I maintain its victims are not only those directly involved, but society as a whole.

Social ills are not isolated events. More frequently than not, social ills occur when poverty and desperation are side by side with wealth and disposable income. As Martin Luther King said, ”Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” We are all affected by this “victimless crime.”

If you are a Boomer with time to give, we need you to join our mission to end Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. At Araminta we will equip you and mobilize you to make a difference.

Sincerely,

Steve Martin – a Certified Araminta Volunteer

Moving Water

Picture found via Creative Commons

“Don’t drink that!” my scout leader yelled at me from across the path. I was ten. It was hot. We’d been hiking all day, and the one thing I wanted more than anything else in the world was a drink of water. So when I came across the small puddle in the dirt I thought I’d seize the opportunity and take a drink. Thankfully my scout leader knew something I did not – stagnant water can make you sick. It’s not healthy.

According to the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, between 100,000 and 300,000 kids are at risk for being trafficked every year in the United States. Imagine M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play. That massive complex holds 71,800 people. Now imagine three Ravens Stadiums packed to the brim with kids under the age of 18 and you begin to get an idea of the number of children that are at risk every year of being sold for sex.

When confronted with a problem as large as Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, it is tempting to grieve but then push it aside in our minds. The size of the issue overwhelms us. We feel debilitated by its scope. But we cannot give in to the temptation to be still.

Rather, we must act. We must be on the move. We must join the prophet Amos’ and cry, “Let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)

Water on the move is a powerful force. When focused like a fire hose, it puts out fires, it knocks down walls, and it digs valleys out of rock. Given time, there is nothing that can resist its pressure. As long as it continues to move, there is nothing that can stand in its way.

Part of our work at Araminta is to engage and empower local churches to help bring an end to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. We agree with what Bill Hybels wrote in his book Courageous Leadership:

“There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken… Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.”

If you are a member or a pastor of a local church in the Baltimore area, we want to work with you. We’d love to awaken you to the problem of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, equip you to join our mission to end it, and then mobilize you to action. We’d want to get you moving because we believe that once you have been mobilized, nothing will stand in your way.

What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking?

Araminta_actioncard_printready_0802-2

Sarah was a sixteen-year-old girl. Her family life was nothing to brag about. She hated school because she felt like she didn’t fit in, but Sarah had dreams. She loved to sing. She hoped to one day become the next Beyoncé or Katie Perry. She dreamt of being discovered by a producer who would sign her to a record deal. Fueled by her dream, Sarah began posting videos of herself singing on YouTube. Then one day, it happened.  A producer contacted her over Twitter. He said he loved her voice. He said he thought her songs were amazing. He said she was beautiful. No one had ever told her she was beautiful. The producer offered to take her on tour. He promised he was going to make her a star. Full of excitement and hope, Sarah ran away and met up with the man. It was only after Sarah had left the security of her friends and community that she discovered the man’s real intention is to sell her? into the commercial sex industry during every stop on the tour.

It’s hard to believe, but Sarah’s story is very much a reality for many American children and teens. It’s the story of how human trafficking affects our U.S. kids. Every day children and teens in and around Baltimore are sold for sex.  This horrific reality is called Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and is the most common form of human trafficking here in the U.S. Unlike movies and television often lead us to believe, these children are not international. This crime is not just happening overseas. A recent national study showed that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked every year within the United States. At any given moment, the FBI says there are 700,000 predators searching the internet, looking for children to exploit.

Angela entered foster care when she was ten. Although the people around her did the best they could to help her, she could never settle. She was always in trouble. She routinely rebelled. She ran away a lot and bounced from group home to group home. Then one day Angela met a man who said he cared about her. He bought her a cell phone and new shoes – things she’d always wanted but could never afford. He told her he loved her and he wanted to take care of her. He invited her to leave the group home and come and live with him. His only requirement was that she sell her body every night for sex and give him the cash. 

According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the United States, surpassed only by the drug trade. The form that this modern day slave trade takes doesn’t always fit the narrative in our minds. Traffickers, or “Pimps” come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are smooth talkers who engage youth romantically. Sometimes they offer youth security and housing in exchange for sexual favors. Sometimes traffickers are family members. What they all have in common is that they are willing to sell a child for their own profit.

The Araminta Freedom Initiative is dedicated to seeing Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking stopped in Baltimore and the surrounding regions. We believe that the solution to this horrible injustice is the Church. Our goal is to awaken, equip, and mobilize the Church and our community to stop this atrocity.

The dream of Araminta was birthed in the fall of 2010 when eight friends began to pray about how they might bring a stop to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. After a season of discernment and prayer, in the spring of 2012, Araminta was born.

Our name was inspired by the great abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Araminta was Harriet Tubman’s given name as a child slave in Maryland. It means “defender”.  In honor of Harriet’s legacy of returning time and again to Maryland to free slaves, we believe it is our duty to defend the freedom of children. We must continue to return to the dark places where they are held captive.

We would be honored if you would join us in our mission to see Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking stopped in our region. There are three ways you can start participating today:

First, you can educate yourself about the problem. Understanding the truth behind Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is the first step to helping end it. If you can learn what it looks like and dispel cultural myths that surround it, then you will be able to recognize it when it happens around you; and if you can recognize it, you can report it.

To learn more about Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and how to report it, go to the Araminta website and check out our resources page. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend the book “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd. (www.aramintafreedom.org)

Second, you can join us at one of our large community events.  For example, on Saturday, August 2nd, we are hosting our annual “Freedom Night at the Orioles.” Tickets to the game and Araminta t-shirts can be purchased from our website starting June 22nd. Events like this one are a great way for you to help us raise awareness.

Third, you can help fuel our work through giving financially. Araminta accepts donations through our website. We would be honored if you would consider becoming a monthly donor.

Finally, you can join the Araminta team as a volunteer. Araminta is striving to end DMST by providing four avenues for churches to engage in:

1) The prevention of the sexual exploitation of minors,

2) The creation of systemic economic deterrence that will frustrate the business of human trafficking,

3) Intervention and rescue of those held against their will

4) And the provision of aftercare initiatives that offer healing and wholeness to victims.

Currently, Araminta has eight volunteer teams working in all of these areas and we will be launching another three teams this fall. The first step to joining an Araminta volunteer team is completing our volunteer training. We offer the training once a quarter. Our next training session will be in October.

We would love for you to join our mission to stop Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in our area. Let’s work together to make sure stories like Sarah’s and Angela’s are never repeated.

Breaking News: Araminta and TurnAround Partnership for Freedom Finalists

We are thrilled to announce that in partnership with  TurnAround Inc, we have been named as finalists in the Partnership for Freedom Challenge Opportunity, led by Humanity United.  For more information, please read our press release below. We look forward to updating you on this exciting opportunity in the months to come!

ARAMINTA FREEDOM INITIATIVE AND TURNAROUND,INC. NAMED FINALISTS IN PARTNERSHIP FOR FREEDOM
Innovation Competition Seeks New Ideas to Support
Human Trafficking Survivors in the United States

BALTIMORE, MD – Dec. 16, 2013 – Baltimore-based organizations Araminta Freedom Initiative and TurnAround, Inc. have been named as finalists in the first round of the Partnership for Freedom, a competition seeking innovative ideas to better care for survivors of modern-day slavery in the United States.

Araminta Freedom Initiative and TurnAround, Inc. joined together to submit THRIVE, a concept that will establish an aggressive new approach to long-term recovery for survivors of human trafficking in the Baltimore region. Their entry was selected from more than 160 submissions representing 260 applying organizations. 

The THRIVE Partnership will focus on moving survivors past the initial stages of safety and stabilization to provide the tools and skills necessary for independence and self-sufficiency. This partnership focuses on holistic, wrap-around support, including the utilization of the Open Table model, specialized host families for survivors, mentoring, expansion of intensive case management and victim advocacy services, and an employment initiative.  THRIVE will create an integrated safety net that moves the care of a trafficking survivor from individual case-management to include a restorative, transformational and holistic healing experience for both the survivor and the local community. We will walk beside survivors as they move from simply surviving to thriving.

Today, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. are currently living in some type of modern-day slavery. Although efforts to combat this crime have increased in recent years, care and recovery support for survivors remains inadequate. The Partnership for Freedom’s first challenge, Reimagine: Opportunity, is looking for creative, sustainable ways to address three critical issues faced by human trafficking survivors: sustainable housing, economic empowerment and social services. Two additional challenges will be launched in 2014 and 2015 to address other ways of combating human trafficking.

“We are humbled and honored to be one of the twelve finalists in the Partnership for Freedom competition series.  Araminta and TurnAround’s partnership has the potential to create groundbreaking and transformational services for trafficking survivors in the Baltimore region.”  Alicia McDowell – Executive Director, Araminta Freedom Initiative; Rosalyn Branson – Executive Director, TurnAround Inc.

Araminta Freedom Initiative and TurnAround, along with eleven other finalists, will participate in an Innovation Workshop in Washington, D.C. in January to further develop their ideas. The final winners will be announced in Spring 2014 and will receive funding to begin piloting their solutions.

Learn more at www.partnershipforfreedom.org or follow #P4F on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Declare Freedom this 4th of July

old glory

July 4th Freedom 

When in the course of human events one set of people finds themselves captive and under the evil hand of another, then it becomes the duty of those free to step up and help them.  For if one of us is not free, then none of us can truly be free.  As our nation’s founders declared on this day 237 years ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

As we celebrate these words today and as we honor our nation’s independence, let us not forget that far too many of our children are not free.  They are shackled in a life of violence, perversion, and the slavery of being bought and sold night after night as sex slaves.

Similar to the brave men and women who declared our nation’s independence and then fought to protect it, we have an obligation to do what we can to free these children trapped in slavery.

At Araminta Freedom Initiative we are accomplishing just that.  With your support, in the past year and a half Araminta has trained over 200 volunteers that are on the front lines in declaring that all children must be free. We have hired three staff members and have started to put the pieces in place to develop an aftercare model to holistically care for survivors of  child sex trafficking.

Our Education Team is working on a plan to train all education personnel in Maryland to know what to look for as they prevent young people from being trapped in the dark world of modern day slavery. Our Economic Deterrence Team is working to certify all of the region’s hotels as traffic-free establishments by inviting them to be a part of F.R.E.E. [Federation to Responsibly End Exploitation]. We are fighting this battle for Freedom, and we have great momentum, but we need your help.

This battle for Freedom requires us all to contribute our time, talents, and treasures if we are to truly say that all of our children are free.

It could be sharing our cause with your friends, families, coworkers, or neighbors and inviting them to become involved through one of our Action Nights.

Maybe this passion in your heart is stirring to see true freedom come to all and you want to share your God given talents as an active member of one of our teams.  We welcome your help and are excited to have you as a part of this organization.

Volunteer

 

Or maybe you have the means to support us financially and would like to be a part of our donor team by giving a recurring monthly donation of $25, $50, $100, or more.

 

Give Online

 

Araminta Freedom Initiative has declared that this month of July is about Freedom for our children and, for this reason and on this day of our nation’s independence, we now join together in thanking you for your support and asking for your help in declaring to the world that we will see the day when all of our children are free.

Scott Jenkins
Director of Development, Araminta Board of Directors

Defining Freedom

Defining Freedom

by Mark Stephenson, Director of Programs

 

Suppose you were in a hostage situation in a bank.  The criminals in dark masks wanted to rob the place and run.  Instead, they find themselves pinned down by police inside a bank full of innocent bystanders.

Imagine you are one of their hostages and you are sitting in a chair next to the door.  In a flash you realize that all the armed bank robbers have their back turned to you.  You have a choice.  You could stay or you could run.  There’s a chance that if you stay you could die.  There’s also a good chance that if you run out the door, you could be noticed and shot by one of the bank robbers.

Now what if in the midst of this dilemma someone from outside the bank grabbed a megaphone and said to you, “You are free.  Why don’t you just run out?  You could choose freedom and yet you choose to sit in that bank and appease your captors.  It’s your own fault that you are still a hostage.  You have no one to blame but yourself.”

How would you feel about what that person just told you?  Is it true that you are free?  Is it true that you have a simple choice to make? No, that decision is anything but simple. The option of staying and the option of running are equally dangerous and life threatening.  You might think to yourself, “Real freedom doesn’t just mean having a choice between any two options.  Real freedom must include a good option – a viable choice.”  And you’d be right.

The problem with human trafficking is that too often we are the one’s with the megaphones yelling into the bank from the outside.  For young children and youth who are trapped in the dark world of sex trafficking, escaping to freedom often seems as dangerous as enduring the nightmare of human trafficking.

The dictionary defines the word freedom as:

1: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

2: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

It is easy enough to understand the second definition of the word freedom.  We understand what it might mean for someone enslaved in child sex trafficking to be set free from his or her captor.  It’s more difficult to understand the first definition.

These young victims have no freedom.  They daily experience a life with no real choices.  Their choices are constrained.  Their decisions are coerced.  Real freedom for them means not just having a choice but having a real choice.  Choosing between getting beaten nearly to death or sleeping with 15 men is not a real choice.  Choosing between an escape attempt that could mean death or being sold night after night to married men with a dark secret is not a real choice.

Harriet Tubman, the famous abolitionist from which we take our name, was once quoted as saying “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Part of the enslavement of human trafficking is not knowing that there is a way out.  Part of the darkness endured by sex trafficking victims is the lie that there is no hope for their future.

Araminta seeks not only to offer liberation from slavery for those enslaved in child sex trafficking, but also to offer a life of real choices, unconstrained options, and un-coerced decisions.  We hope to offer trafficking survivors not just freedom from their trafficker but also freedom from a narrow future confined by their past.

In the month of July we celebrate Independence Day for our nation.  This is a good time to consider what real freedom looks like to you. This July, what might real freedom feel like to those who have only known the bondage of modern day slavery?  How can you join this mission to offer a holistic kind of freedom to those who can’t yet see a way out?

A Little Bit of Heaven Everywhere…and at Target

I LOVE Christmas music.  That is a little bit of an understatement considering I have 417 Christmas songs on my iTunes. Yet, each year I find a new song that moves me closer to the spirit of the season. This year Francesca Battistelli’s song “Heaven Everywhere”  has me reflecting on what our mission means this Christmas season.

We are just beginning the journey here in Baltimore to see human trafficking cease. And sometimes looking at the road that lies before us can be overwhelming and daunting.  But then I watch one of our volunteers engaging in prevention education or hear how they are supporting a survivor, and I see the response of Heaven right there in front of me.  So the lyrics of this song ring true for our mission.

It’s the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It’s giving our lives knowing they’re not our own
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
– Francesca Battistelli, Heaven Everywhere

Now some shoppers might say that Target already has pieces of heaven (at least until they get to the register and realize how much they spent). But you can bring a little bit of the true Heaven into the lives of trafficking survivors by shopping at Target this Christmas.  Our partners at TurnAround have a Target Wish List that will provide for the needs of the survivors they serve.  These are items they use at their drop-in center, their residential center for young women 18 and up, and when they meet a survivor with law enforcement during their rescue.  Pick up a few items and really bless them this Christmas!

TARGET WISH LIST

You can ship it directly to TurnAround

401 Washington Ave, Suite 300
Attn: Anti-Trafficking Program
Towson, MD 21204

Or email us at contact@aramintafreedom.org and we can get the item from you.

Thank you for increasing the “little bits of Heaven everywhere”.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Alicia McDowell
Executive Director