Travelers Take Action Against Sex Slavery and Trafficking
In 1993, Brenda Hepler attended the UN Human Rights Conference held in Vienna, Austria as a representative of a Children’s Rights Organization. A major issue at that Conference was the sex slavery and trafficking of children. When Brenda attended the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, she found many of the workshops focused on this same issue.
What could one person do to make a difference? Brenda had been a teacher, a travel agent, a foreign student advisor, a storyteller, a cross-cultural educator, and an advocate for responsible tourism. Now, at age 68, this wife and mother decided to build upon her experience and contacts in the travel industry. After all, the promoters of sex slavery and trafficking of children took advantage of this industry. What better than a large, bright, and beautiful luggage tag! Travelers would be able to easily spot their luggage. Sales of the tags could raise awareness of the issue and assist in protecting children.
To counter this dark issue, the tags needed to be beautiful; they needed to represent the beauty of the children who were the victims. For her logo, she wanted the beauty and delicate strength of a flower. Since the daisy was the only flower she could draw, that image became her focus. Upon the advice of her son, she drew the daisy with one petal falling; the single petal looked like a tear. Nature wept for its own while maintaining its beauty and strength.
To begin the move from concept to finished product, Brenda worked with advisors from the San Francisco and Napa College Small Business Development Centers. She also received assistance from the Sawyer Center in Santa Rosa regarding prototype development and trademark.
The tags had to be in bright, bold colors and of sustainable fabric. Manufacturing had to meet the criteria for Fair Trade. She contacted the Regina Center in Nongkhai, Thailand. The Center met all her needs.
Brenda now had a plan and a product. She was ready to contact the US Chapter of Thailand-based ECPAT. As a result of her contact, TassaTag™ has become a project of ECPAT-USA.
Often when we hear the words sex slavery and trafficking, we think, “How horrible, but what can I do?” Now, with a TassaTag™, travelers can do something about it.