Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Child Next Door - Human Trafficking can find its way to your neighborhood

The child next door? Yes sadly, human trafficking has reached into our enclaves of peace and tranquility, as articulated recently at a panel discussion in Craven County, North Carolina recently. But this is not new news, we can look back at the story of Theresa Flores and her book, The Slave Across the Street which detailed how she was groomed, sexually compromised and then enslaved by those who trafficked her for sex - she was a teen, she was also fortunate she survived the two years - she was 15.

In her book, Flores says, "I wasn't a runaway. I wasn't abused at home. I had professional parents, loving siblings, and a privileged lifestyle. Yet I had been a victim of human trafficking. I had been commercially, sexually exploited as a child. I had been a teenage sex slave in the United States."  She continues, how "To the men who used her night after night, I was not a human being. As they performed the most intimate act a man and a woman engage in, I was only a dollar value. A commodity."

This is not to say that the miscreants who are preying on our children are only in our suburbs, no they traffick from other countries and smuggle the children into the United States. We are all sensitized to the number of children whose families have no hope in their own town or country sending their children north to the United States to find a distant relative or simply have an opportunity to survive. Those who are being discovered by the US Border Patrol may be the luckiest of them all.  It has been known for many years that while Texas has an above average law enforcement focus on human trafficking and the sex trafficking of minors (who are victims, not criminals) the I-10 corridor is the highway of souls.

In 2011 a documentary on this heinous crime was released on DVD: "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls" The proceeds from the film go to the Exodus Cry organization. An organization working to abolish sex slavery.

Here is the description taken directly from the film's site:
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends of modern day sex slavery. From the first scene, Nefarious gives an in-depth look at the human trafficking industry, showing where slaves are sold (often in developed, affluent countries) where they work, and where they are confined. With footage shot in over nineteen different countries, Nefarious exposes the nightmare of sex slavery as experienced by hundreds of thousands daily, through the eyes of both the enslaved and their traffickers. Nefarious features expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders, and captures the gripping and triumphant testimonies of survivors in order to galvanize hope and vision.From initial recruitment to victim liberation—and everything in between—the previously veiled underworld of sex slavery is uncovered in the groundbreaking, tell-all Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.Exodus Cry: In response to the sex trafficking crisis, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls director, writer, and producer, Benjamin Nolot, founded Exodus Cry, an international anti-trafficking organization. Exodus Cry is built on a foundation of prayer and is committed to abolishing sex slavery through Christ-centered prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration of trafficking victims. Learn more about Exodus Cry at

In 2009 I wrote "Children as a commodity" yet here we are half-way through 2014 - they still are. Let's do something to address this.

Thank you for your time,

Some additional reading on this topic:

Friday, November 22, 2013

John Kennedy - Johnny we hardly knew ye

John F. Kennedy left this world fifty years ago. The U-2 shoot downCuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs and what would be the defining moment of the US Civil Rights Movement, the Birmingham Campaign were recent history. I had no idea how much the young president, only 46 at the time of his assassination, had had to face during his 20 months in office (January 1961 - October 1963). I would, later in life, come to appreciate my parents support and personal engagement in the Civil Rights movement, why my father followed the call and left the private sector and joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and why Kennedy was revered both then and now.

It can be summed up in one word: Hope.

I was in the first semester of third grade at the Department of Defense school in Ankara, Turkey. My father's work had taken us to Turkey where he worked for the USAID. To be kid in Ankara at that time was heaven, and while not all the populace agreed with US foreign policy, on October 22, 1963 it seemed tears were flowing from all in that nation. But what I remember most were the tears of my parents. They too hailed from Massachusetts, they too had worked hard to get Kennedy elected, and they too had changed their lives to answer the call, Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,

That call shaped my family, it defined service to nation and others. It is my parents legacy. A legacy my sibling and I have embraced going forward. Demonstrating, the response to President Kennedy's admonishment is:  We can do much more than we think we are capable.

On this day, the 50th anniversary of your death, all we can say is, Johnny, we hardly knew ye.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Typhoon Haiyan  

via flicker divshub

Super Typhoon Haiyan has create a path of destruction across the Philippines, we can and must help.  We have all seen the photographs of the devastation which has defended upon the Philippines.  And while governments are sending their militaries (the US, Australia, Israel, and many others have troops on the ground) to provide aid and many companies have sent their teams to provide infrastructure services (Cisco for example), the private non-governmental organizations are going to be there to help now and during the rebuild. They need our assistance.

Unfortunately, so will those entities which are led by criminals and are simply trying to separate your money from you. We need to be mindful of such when we want to do what we can from afar and only support those entities which are authentic.  I posted, earlier, Typhoon Haiyan - plea for aid which I called out for support - World Vision; OxFam and Save the Children.  Since then, via Google+ I have been provided leads to other organizations, also worthy of support:


Their team in the Philippines reports “We arrived by boat at the port in Ormoc City. As soon as we stepped onto the port, we were in the middle of a disaster zone. Everything was destroyed. Tin roofing sheets were hanging off trees like wet blankets."  Care is a global organization, active in all parts of the world, the fact that they were among the first to be on the ground is no surprise.  DONATE to CARE

Gawad Kalinga - 

Gawad Kalinga - I love the Philippines
The vision and mission of Gawad Kalinga, an organization with its very roots in the Philippines is provided. They are on the ground and providing aid.  We provide both for your edification.


Gawad Kalinga is building a nation
empowered by people with faith and patriotism;
a nation made up of caring and sharing communities,
dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity.


Ending poverty for 5 million families by 2024:
Land for the Landless. 
Homes for the Homeless. 
Food for the Hungry.

American Red Cross - 

Red Cross
The American Red Cross is collecting donations and providing aid to the Philippines.  The Red Cross, arguably one of the most well known relief organizations is specifically collecting funds to help the victims of the tyhphoo. DONATE to RED CROSS

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Slavery in the United States - 2013 - How far we have come since 1860

Slavery 1860 and 2013:

Following the 1860 census, it was possible to create a density map of slavery in the United States.  A close look at the map shows that some areas had a density of 75% of the population in a given area was enslaved.
In 1860, the trafficking of humans was a lucrative business for those who dealt in human flesh. In 2013, the difference is, those enslaved are no longer traded openly and are not included in the census, which was conducted in 2010.  But they exist.  This 2013 map shows where sub-rosa slavery exists today

Yes, every state of the United States has and is encountering slavery, human trafficking and sex trafficking.  Perhaps not in the numbers which occurred in 1860 and before, and not one ethnic group.  Today, children are being enslaved for the purposes of being sold for sex; men and women are brought into this country amid a bait-n-switch arrangement where they believe themselves coming to the United States to engage in one line of work and find themselves enslaved for the sex trade; individuals are brought to a temporary job - agriculture, manufacturing, etc., and isolated and enslaved.  You see, in 2013, slavery has spread out into the entire nation and every major metro area, and many of the rural areas.

Think about what you can do to eradicate slavery in 2013.  Then do it.

Additional reading:

Paul Jennings, White House Slavery, and The Pearl incident - Paul Jennings was born a slave on President Madison's estate, in Montpelier, Va. in 1799. His reputed father was Benj. Jennings, an English trader there. his mother, a slave of Mr Madison, and
the grand-daughter of an Indian" (Jennings).

White House council calls for action on modern-day slavery - National Catholic Reporter
A White House advisory council of religious leaders called for a global fund to address human trafficking and urged a new labeling system to help identify consumer goods that were not created with slave labor.

Elizabeth Keckley - From Slave to White House Confidant - Black History - EBONY From Slave to White House Confidant. James R Sanders takes a look at the woman who rose from the indignities of slavery to become a successful entrepreneur. In Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four in the White House, Keckley's voice is eerie. To serve as his slave on his North Carolina plantation.

Taking Action to Eradicate Modern-day Slavery The White House (blog), on Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:45:20 -0700 Last year, President Obama articulated an ambitious and multifaceted agenda to combat human trafficking in his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. This week, the Administration took two important steps to advance that agenda. In 2012, the ...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Remembering - Those who bore me, my parents

Today is Columbus Day - October 12, 2013.  72 years ago, my parents were wed in Holyoke, MA.  They passed on in 1993, and thus had 52 years together.  On their 52nd anniversary my mother was asked by one of the attendees at their party, what did she attribute their longevity of marital bliss.  She smiled and laughed a bit before she answered and then said, "We probably succeeded because we spent half of our lives apart from one and other." You see my parents put family first, then they put the rest of the world and then themselves. They not only took care of the children they brought into the world, they invested in us.

The investment they made brought us up to take chances, failure was never an issue, it meant you were engaged. To speak truth to power, even if the results could be deleterious to you personally. They taught us by example, as my parents would volunteer their time to tutor individuals who were victimized by the Jim Crow laws then in play in Virginia. When John Kennedy became President, they were delighted, they had campaigned hard for the man, he too hailed from Massachusetts.  Our maternal grandmother, would forever joke that both she and Rose Kennedy had much in common, we both had nine children.

My father drove a bus. He also was whip-smart and supported by the original iron-lady, my mother. His writing ability and sense of fairness were paramount in his evolution into one of the most astute and talented in the art of labor relations.  He evolved within the Amalgamated Transit Union from member to one of the senior-most vice presidents.

In 1961 my father left private industry and joined the government and the Agency for International Development - our lives were forever to be influenced by foreign affairs from that day forward.  We moved to Turkey and my memory is of traveling every inch of that beautiful country in the back of my parents mini-bus, they were nomads. We would go into villages, towns and cities. As a young boy of seven I was amazed to learn that dinner consisted of something more than soup, as I never could keep my eyes open beyond the soup course.  I also remember during our time in Turkey at every location we were greeted warmly.  This was to be among my parent's favorite times of their lives and their affinity for Turkey continued through to their final days.

In 1965 the family was to move again, this time to Vietnam. Enroute or just before, the family's portion of that assignment was adjusted as all dependents were ordered out of Vietnam due to the conflict intensifying. My mother was given the choice - US or Thailand - she chose Thailand as we would see our father once every six to eight weeks for 2 to 3 days. The next eight years were the most difficult for my parents.  Separated by thousands of miles during a period of global unrest living in a country, albeit a delightful one, separate.  It was during this era that I learned the strength of my mother (and not just her left hook).  She demonstrated what charity is - doing something for someone without having to be asked.  She demonstrated compassion as many displaced spouses found their way to our living room for a chat with my mother on coping.  She also showed empathy and faith, as she helped at orphanages and the leper camps.

The greatest joy which my parents brought forward were the five children who survived to adult hood.  All have accomplished what our parents admonished during our days pre-launch - Go out there and make a difference. We were shown the world, we were shown compassion, we were shown how fortunate we were to be passing through this life at this time.

So today I remember my parents, they taught all of us well and leveled the expectations upon us - Those who can, must.  And we do.

Thank you for your time,