Posts Tagged ‘fair trade’

Thursday, the Stop Human Trafficking Action Group hosted a movie event. We showed the highly acclaimed short film “The Return” and afterward had a Q&A with the writer/director Matthew Szewczyk.

The film is based on a true human trafficking/labor trafficking case in Orange County, California. The film is a brutal reminder that human trafficking does happen in every country, in every city around the world.

We appreciate everyone who came out to our event as well as those who helped and supported us to get this event put together. A special thank you, too, to Matthew for giving of his time and talent so we could have this event.


Fair trade coffee, tea and sugar for our guests.

Fair trade coffee, tea and sugar for our guests.



Our booth.

Our booth.


Watching the film

Watching the film

A good turnout

A good turnout

Q&A with Matthew

Q&A with Matthew

Looking for a unique gift? Want to help others this holiday season?
Do both by purchasing from one of the companies below.


  1. Ten Thousand Villages

What you can buy there: jewelry, scarves, handbags, baskets, wall décor, home accents, outdoor décor, spa & skincare, candles, office & stationery, games & toys, sculptures, and holiday items.

“Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serve ware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries.”


  1. Purpose Jewelry

What you can buy there: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings

“Purpose jewelry is handcrafted by survivors of modern-day slavery. 100% of the proceeds benefit International Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that provides holistic care for young women rescued from sex trafficking.”


  1. Thistle Farms

What you can buy: bath salts, lotions, soaps, scented candles and room sprays, essential oils, coffee, teas, books, and gift sets

“Thistle Farms is a powerful community of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The organization employs more than 50 survivors through its social enterprises which include a natural body care company, Thistle Stop Cafe, artisan studio, and global marketplace called Shared Trade.”


  1. Sudara

What you can buy there: “Punjammies” loungewear bottoms for women, men and children, handcrafted bags, wallets, and holiday cards.

After taking a trip to India in 2005, seeing the poverty and desperation of the residents there, founder Shannon Keith got together with other like-minded individuals and began teaching the women skills to become seamstresses. Since that time the company has grown to include multiple partnerships and hundreds of women having a safe place to work and heal.


  1. Good Paper

What you can buy there: cards for birthdays, Father’s/Mother’s day, sympathy, get well, and wedding.

The company sells all occasion cards made by women who have escaped sex trafficking in the Philippines and young adults orphaned by disease in Rwanda. Cards are handmade, fair trade, and eco-friendly.


  1. Mulixiply

What you can buy there: rings, bracelets, earrings, tote bags, and handfelted toys

The company sells modern and stylish bags, wallets, and jewelry made by at risk (for human trafficking) women in Nepal.


  1. Kwagala

What you can buy there: handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings

“Kwagala Project rescues women and girls from human trafficking. It gives long-term aftercare to survivors and helps them build meaningful, fulfilling lives. Through crucial counseling, education, and skills training, survivors learn to care for themselves, nurture their families, and ultimately help others.”


  1. Sari Bari

What you can buy there: blankets, bags (from coin purses to diaper bags), t-shirts, pillow covers, and stylish throws.

“Sari Bari sells beautiful, handcrafted products made from upcycled Indian saris. But its product story runs much deeper. Woven within each thread of its products is a tale of women who have found freedom from Kolkata’s sex trade. ‘Once trapped in the trade with no options, she now works in freedom. Once vulnerable to being trafficked, she knows has a steady means of employment to power her dreams.’”


  1. Malia Designs

What you can buy there: bags (clutches to messenger bags), belts, scarves, earrings, business card holders, and wallets

“Malia Designs is a socially responsible fair trade brand that designs and sells handbags and accessories. Products are handcrafted in Cambodia, and every purchase helps to fight human trafficking.”


  1. Freeset

What you can buy there: shopping bags, shoulder bags, gift bags, and T-shirts

“Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade.”


  1. Starfish Project

What you can buy there: handcrafted earrings, bracelets, and necklaces

“At Starfish Project, exploited women are empowered to recognize their value. Their jewelry business provides women with meaningful employment in a safe and supportive environment. Women who come to Starfish Project have been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused, and many see no way out of their situation. In addition to dignified employment, Starfish Project provides women with housing, counseling, educational opportunities, vocational training and health care.”



Doing “something good” has never been easier. Help survivors as they try to make a better life for themselves and their family.

Share this blog link with everyone you know, and together we can make the world a better place this holiday season.


As the holidays near, something stirs inside us that causes us to want to make the world better. We donate canned food to the school’s food drive, we hang cheerful decorations in front of our house to bring joy to others, or we write that extra large check to the charity we feel the most connection to.


The “something” that drives me to get involved, and maybe you as well, is the horror of human trafficking.


When I first became involved in human trafficking, I didn’t know how I could help. Then a dear friend of mine, a published author and fellow blogger, told me I have a talent for writing. I had never really written anything before and frankly didn’t believe her.


Nevertheless, through some twist of fate, I became a social media coordinator for our human trafficking awareness group, where I spend every day writing about human trafficking.


I discovered a hidden talent that I didn’t even know was there.


Until human trafficking and modern-day slavery are eradicated completely, organizations will continue to need volunteers and survivors will continue to need assistance.


That is where you come in.


Below is a list of 44 things you can do to become involved in the fight against human trafficking. Some are simple, easy suggestions that you can complete from the comfort of your home. Others are suggestions if you want to make more of a longer commitment.


Read through the list and find a way you can make a difference in 2016. Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself as well.


Online Activism


  • Sign a petition or start one of your own. The site has several active petitions regarding human trafficking. Check out the website for more information.
  • Follow the Stop Human Trafficking Action Group on Facebook and Twitter. Share posts and retweet on your own pages.
  • Say “No” to pornography. Refuse to download, view or share pornographic or risqué videos, pictures, and literature.
  • Visit and learn about how your purchasing habits affect labor and child trafficking around the world. At the end of the survey, you can email companies and request they no longer use child labor or slave labor in their products lines.
  • Start a blog about human trafficking. Make it personal or factual. The goal is to get people talking.
  • Email a link to this blog post to everyone in your address book.


Take Action


  • Put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-3737-888) in your cell phone and write it down next to your landline. If you suspect someone may be a victim, call the number and speak to a representative, who will help you.
  • Write a letter to your local paper or community publication about human trafficking in your area.
  • Pray. Prayer is the strongest weapon in our arsenal. Pray for organizations, activists, victims, and survivors.
  • Provide transportation for survivors to attend doctor’s appointments, classes, etc. Inquire at your local human trafficking task force for more information.
  • Purchase fair trade items as often as possible.
  • Make most of your home and clothing purchases from second-hand stores. This is better for the environment and reduces the demand for new products, therefore, reducing the demand for slave labor.
  • Be aware of possible victims when traveling through airports, truck stops, and bus stations. Be vigilant and keep that national hotline number with you. 1-888-3737-888


Educate Yourself


  • Learn the signs of a trafficked person and keep vigilant for potential victims.
  • Attend a human trafficking awareness event in your local area. Search “human trafficking events” to locate one in your area.
  • Talk to law enforcement or your local government official about gaps in services for human trafficking survivors or how you can help their efforts to combat human trafficking.
  • Educate yourself about this issue by reading:
    • Renting Lacey by Linda Smith
    • Not For Sale by David Batstone
    • Priceless by Tom Davis
    • Terrify No More by Gary Haugen and Gregg Hunter
    • Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight by Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon
    • Trafficked: My Story of  Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution by Sophie Hayes
    • Start Something to End Trafficking by David Trotter




  • Know who your Facebook friends are. Traffickers often use social media to lure victims into a life of slavery.
  • Do not accept a job offer without first checking the authenticity of the company. Research the company as well as the recruiter. Let others know about the job offer and only meet for an interview at the place of business (rather than at a mall or a park).
  • Become a foster parent. As children age-out of the foster care system, they become vulnerable to traffickers. Prevent this by giving a child a “forever home.”


Become an Activist


  • Distribute human trafficking awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Service or Department of Homeland Security.
  • Host a screening of a human trafficking documentary. CNN Freedom Project has several documentaries to choose from.
  • Join the group Men Standing Against Trafficking. Stand in silence on the 18th of each month in trafficking hot spots around Los Angeles to bring awareness about human trafficking. It’s a great way for men to get involved in the fight against trafficking.
  • Declare yourself an activist and be active in the fight against human trafficking.


For Parents


  • Encourage your local schools to include human trafficking awareness into their curriculum, such as A21 and iEmpathize.
  • Ask that local mall security be trained to identify trafficking victims as well as traffickers.
  • Share Net Smartz videos from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with your teens, tweens, and younger children.
  • Put a “Stop Human Trafficking” bumper sticker on your car.


For Students


  • Start a club on campus to raise awareness about human trafficking.
  • Do a research paper about human trafficking and present it to your class.
  • Show your support by wearing a “Stop Human Trafficking” t-shirt, baseball cap, or button. If you can’t find one you like online, make your own.
  • Be aware of your fellow classmates. Studies show that there is at least one homeless child in every high school class. Homeless youth are at a greater risk of falling victim to a trafficker.
  • Invite a speaker to talk at your next assembly. A list of available speakers can be found at
  • Have a bake sale and donate the proceeds to Children of the Night.
  • Host a t-shirt decorating contest. Contestants can decorate their shirt to resemble how they can fight human trafficking while bringing awareness to the community.
  • Make a video about the dangers of human trafficking and put it on YouTube.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of all the trafficking victims still in bondage. January 11 is National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness.


Support a Survivor


  • Purchase items made by human trafficking survivors. Give a gift to a loved one while helping someone better their life.
  • Teach a class in banking, cooking, sewing, or ESL to survivors of human trafficking. Contact the Salvation Army for more information.


Do Something!


Whether you choose to do one thing or several, the worst thing you can do is NOTHING.


We are surrounded by human trafficking.


“You don’t have to live in the slums of Thailand to be a stone’s throw away from a trafficker or trafficking-enabler or trafficking client. These individuals work with you, live on your street and sit next to you in church. You know them. Maybe you are one of them. A sex trafficking client. A user of pornography,” writes blogger Heidi Carlson.


Educate yourself and everyone you meet. We need to bring this issue out into the light. Traffickers can hide no more.


* * *


Learning about human trafficking awakened in me a desire to fight for victims exploited by greed, to be a voice for the voiceless, and to bring awareness about slavery.


Maybe you’ve always had a desire to be a foster/adoptive parent but were afraid. Use this opportunity to learn more about it. It’s not as scary as you may think.


Or maybe you like starting new things but burn out quickly and lose momentum. Partner with a friend or an established organization to help keep you on track.


The goal is to do something. If everyone did one thing human trafficking would only be something we read about in our history books. Choose your one thing.


It is important to know the signs of human trafficking so you can identify a potential victim and help authorities provide the assistance they need. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance or you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.

How do I recognize a victim when I see one?

*** Work/living conditions ***

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
  • Lives with employer
  • Multiple people in a cramped space
  • High foot traffic in and out of a residence

*** Mental health or behavior ***

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous, or paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Post-traumatic stress or psychological disorders
  • Suffers from verbal or psychological abuse designed to intimidate, degrade, or frighten the individual
  • A sudden or dramatic change in behavior

*** Physical health ***

  • Lacks health care or is kept under surveillance when taken to a doctor, hospital, or clinic for treatment. The trafficker may act as a translator.
  • Appears malnourished, dehydrated, or has poor personal hygiene
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture (unexplained bruising, broken bones, cuts, or bruises in various stages of healing)

 *** Control ***

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating) or answers appear to be scripted or rehearsed
  • Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating
  • Unable to answer questions about where they live

*** Other ***

  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
  • Being a recent arrival to the U.S. and does not speak English
  • Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help
  • The person appears disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or places of worship
  • A child that has stopped attending school

 *Note: Not all signs are apparent in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative

Information provided by: Polaris Project, U.S. Department of Statehumantrafficking.orgU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Homeland Security

Here are three easy things you can do right now, starting today, to fight human trafficking.

1. Switch to a fair trade coffee brand or ask for a fair trade blend when ordering from your favorite barista.

2. Like the “Stop Human Trafficking Action Group” on Facebook and repost your favorites to your site.

3. Put the National Human Trafficking hotline number in your cellphone or write it on a post-it next to your landline.



That’s it!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step        – Lao-tzu.

Make this your first.


Fair Trade principles include:
  • Fair prices and credit: Democratically organized farming groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price (or the market price if it’s higher) and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farming organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
  • Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions and sustainable wages. Forced child and slave labor are strictly prohibited.
  • Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible to eliminate unnecessary middlemen and empower farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade premiums, which are funds for community development.
  • Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarships, schools, quality improvement and leadership training, and organic certification.
  • Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.


Every time we make a purchase we are influencing businesses that produce the items we buy. Why not influence in a positive way by buying fair trade. As modern-day slavery becomes more known, companies are crumbling under the pressure to make products within the fair trade standards. The more we, as consumers, refuse to purchase products made by slave and child labor, the louder we become. Manufacturers only care about the bottom line and would rather not lose business even if it means they might have to cut into their profits.

Need more motivation, watch this documentary about how cacao (the plant used to make chocolate) is harvested .

And don’t forget to look for the fair trade symbol.

Want to know your purchasing impact on the slave trade and which companies pay fair wages? Visit this website and take an online quiz. The quiz will ask about your purchasing habits and estimate how many slaves are used to support your lifestyle. At the end of the quiz you can email your favorite companies that use child or slave labor and request that they end this practice within their company.

One final note…
If each of us made a small change everyday to end human trafficking and child slavery, we could one day rid the world of it all together.