Sunday, April 17, 2011

MLB Players Fight Child Slavery so Kids are Free to Play

April marks the return of Major League Baseball (MLB), and this year there’s an additional cause for excitement. Some MLB athletes are taking action to associate America’s favorite pastime with more than just sunflower seeds and hot dogs. San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and other major league players are joining with Not For Sale (NFS) to use baseball in the fight against child slavery. Last year, Affeldt donated a total of $20,000 to support sports programs for kids that have been freed from slavery and now offered sanctuary in NFS programs around the world.

Affeldt began his involvement with NFS, a San Francisco – based non-profit committed to combating human trafficking, after he was traded to the Giants in 2009. Connecting with NFS co-founder David Batstone, Affeldt was inspired to use his platform as a professional athlete to bring awareness to a largely invisible global problem.

“Our Free2Play initiative, in partnership with athletes like Jeremy Affeldt, is a perfect example of how we approach our fight against modern slavery,” Batstone says. “We call it ‘open source activism’ – we do not try to make an individual into a certain kind of social justice activist, but provide a platform where they can contribute out of their passion and talent,” he explains.

While Affeldt’s outstanding first Giants season earned him the reputation of being one of the most effective left-handed setup men in baseball, his philanthropic actions made him a champion for the freedom of others. Baseball fans and human rights activists alike cheered-on Affeldt as he pledged to donate $100 for every strike out of the 2009 season to NFS’s Free2Play platform – a program that enables athletes to use their talents to help victims of human trafficking at the organization’s international projects.

Jeremy’s efforts earned him a 2010 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award – a national award, which is given annually to the Major League Baseball player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the field.

Now, with a World Series Title under his belt, Affeldt is upping his commitment to $250 per strike out. Batstone joined the pitcher at Spring Training last week in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the pitcher announced his increased commitment. CNN covered the efforts of the two freedom fighters, as they attempted to recruit more ballplayers to the cause. Among the new recruits is Saint Louis Cardinal’s outfielder Matt Holiday, who pledged $500 for every homerun he hits this season.

Everyone wants to emulate the moves of their favorite athletes – when sports stars stand up to modern-day slavery, fans are quick to follow suit. Catholic Healthcare West just announced its pledge to match the first $20,000 that Affeldt raises for NFS during the 2011 season. Also, The San Francisco Giants organization will sponsor a Free2Play game, to be held at AT&T Park during the June 21st match-up between the SF Giants and the Minnesota Twins, in order to bring attention to the movement.

For those of us taking in the action from the stands, we can now do more than victory dance when Holiday knocks one out of the park. Free2Play encourages sports fans to make pledges contingent on the successes of the team they follow.

You don’t have to have a Jeremy Affeldt-like ERA in order to ensure all kids have the opportunity to enjoy physical activity free from slavery, for “anyone can be part of the Free2Play movement,” according to Batstone,

Athletes can make commitments on their own skills, as NFS seeks to mobilize activists to use their passions (whether they lie with sports, music, art or elsewhere) as a means to provide victims of trafficking with resources to pursue their dreams. The University of San Francisco’s women’s soccer team fielded its own challenge, pledging $15 to Free2Play for every goal they score a season.

Their contributions, combined with generous donations from Affeldt and others, allowed NFS to build a full-sized basketball court at their project in Thailand last year. Not For Sale Thailand, which supports over 100 children who would otherwise be vulnerable to enslavement in the region’s sex industry, can now provide kids with a sports therapy program that offers rehabilitation through play. Meanwhile in Peru, NFS sponsors a surf tribe that provides former street children with equipment and resources to pursue their love of surfing.

Through Free2Play, Not For Sale has enabled athletes and fans to partner in the fight against human trafficking. Though adversaries on the field, Jeremy Affeldt and Matt Holiday are among those teaming up to fight the greater opponent of child slavery. Whether you support the Giants or Cardinals, play in the Major Leagues or the local Little League, live in San Francisco or the streets of Peru – all kids should be free to play.

Watch the CNN Feature on Jeremy Affeldt on The CNN Freedom Project:

SOURCE: Not For Sale

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New shopping app shows slavery in company supply chains

Want to know what’s behind the toy, MP3 player, chocolate or sweater you buy? The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) and the Not for Sale Campaign (NFSC) continue to develop their partnership on a unique online resource for consumers concerned about forced labor and child labor in their favorite products, Free2Work is a website were consumers can easily search specific products, learn more about various labor standards and corporate practices, and further their engagement through their consumption decisions.

Free2Work is the only resource for consumers with a particular concern for forced and child labor. So far, the website has evaluated and rated a broad range of the top products in the US market from garments to electronics to children’s toys and food using a comprehensive rating tool. Some of the companies that have already been rated include: Apple, Adidas, Gap, Hanes, Hasbro, HP, Levi’s, Nestle, Nike, Puma, Skechers, Timberland and Wal-Mart. As part of the project, many of the companies rated are also working to improve their ratings by strengthening their policies to eliminate labor rights abuses. The website also has numerous features where users can share information and resources, find ways to take action and offer feedback on the project.

A Free2Work iPhone and Android APP are now available to download. The app makes it easy to see supply chain ratings on over 100 companies with many more companies to be added to the list. The app was also featured as one of the “11 Great Apps for 2011” at the San Francisco Appshow.

ILRF and NFSC look forward to continuing to expand their collaboration throughout 2011 to support the growing movement to stop forced and child labor.

You can DOWNLOAD THE APP HERE and take it for a test drive yourself.

Source: Not For Sale

Understanding Modern Slavery in the Supply Chain & Why Blanket Boycotts May Not be Best

Understanding where our products come from is an important part of understanding one of the underlying factors in modern slavery today. From cotton to cocoa, rugs to cell phones, almost every supply chain has some amount of slavery in it.

This is one of the hardest parts of slavery to weed out. To combat slavery in the supply chain, abolitionist organizations must work with companies and suppliers to help them find cases of slavery and remove it from their supply chain. This is how long term solutions can be accomplished as has been seen with the Cocoa Initiative, discussed by Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slaves.

It's often difficult for businesses to wipe out slavery from their supply chains. Take for instance cocoa farms along the ivory coast. Chocolate companies typically buy their cocoa from a broker, who buys it from a broker, who buys it from a group of farmers, where a smaller percentage of these farmers may use slaves.

Some might say, "Let's boycott their chocolate." The problem with this blanket approach is that it may do more harm than good. This hurts the cocoa business, which hurts the brokers, which hurts the group of farmers, of which a large percentage are legitimate farmers on the Ivory Coast struggling to survive. If their farms fail because their sales have dropped, they can easily be enslaved on slave farms or may become a slave farm themselves to produce better margins and just survive.

Because the overhead is so cheap for slave labor, this can grow the slave cycle instead of breaking it.

That's why it's critical to weed out the small percentage of slavery in the product chain at the root. When businesses and anti-slavery groups work together, I mean really team up, this can take place. The organizations can help identify and root out slavery in the supply chain and the companies can expend the resources to make sure local authorities are notified and that it gets removed from their purchases by brokers.

If you know of a company with slavery in their product chain, contact the company to make them aware of the problem along with your state legislators and local news. Nothing will get a company motivated to investigate and cleanup their product chain like a little bad PR. This is actually how the chocolate companies started making changes and decided to partner up with government and abolitionist groups. Boycotts can and do have this effect as well. You just have to remember their may be greater consequences to a blanket boycott than you might realize.

With that said, The International Labour Rights Forum and Not For Sale has created a Free 2 Work APP for the Android and iPhone, which rates companies on their supply chain and makes it easy to learn more about companies and share information with friends. Here's a quick video about it. DOWNLOAD THE APP HERE.

Source: Not For Sale

Thursday, April 14, 2011

International Justice Mission Dallas, TX Benefit Dinner

The International Justice Mission is one of the top anti-trafficking organizations in the world and one of my favorite organizations to support and work with. I have been lucky enough to work with them in small capacities on social media campaigns and to see what they do makes me want to go back to law school. Literally, this past week I have been thinking about going back to school to get a law degree because of what IJM is able to accomplish.

I live in the Dallas area and I want to help promote an upcoming IJM Benefit Dinner on May 3rd. If you have the means and the time, I know this will be a wonderful evening and a great experience for all who attend. You will truly be supporting a wonderful cause and organization. Remember, you will need to RSVP by next Tuesday, April, 19th. See the details below.

IJM Dallas Benefit Dinner
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reception and Registration at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner served at 7 p.m.
The Fairmont Dallas — Regency Ballroom

$100 per person ($25 tax-deductible portion)*

Business or Cocktail Attire

R.S.V.P. by April 19, 2011

Featured Speaker
Gary Haugen, IJM President and CEO
EMAIL - 2009 Benefits GH HeadshotHaugen, a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, worked in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and was Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations’ genocide investigation in Rwanda prior to founding IJM.

Stories of Hope
MilaMila+ was trafficked into prostitution at the age of 12. Now, she’s thriving in aftercare. At the benefit, hear how IJM was able to rescue her, and other stories of freedom made possible by people like you.

* The fair market value of each event ticket is $75 and is not tax-deductible. Any amount over and above the fair market value will be considered a gift to IJM and is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Ticket sales are final and non-refundable.
+ A pseudonym; real name and casework documentation on file with IJM.

2010 - IJM Benefits - Logo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Touching Photos of Freed Child Slaves from the Organization Children's Rescue Initiative

I came across the organization Children's Rescue Initiative in a Facebook post by their founder Bruce Ladebu. In looking through their website,, I was touched by their photo albums of children in slavery and children rescued from slavery. Their organization frees children and families and provides safe houses with after care treatment and schools for them to develop their education and help with the transition back to society. Here are just a few images from their site.

Here is a boy working on a rug loom. Often this is where they eat, sleep and work with little food and rest. Many children have their finger tips burned to callus them to avoid going raw while working on the loom. Children enslaved in the looms often suffer severe respiratory problems from the rug fibers in the air and enclosed spaces.

These boys work under the abusive hand of a brick factory owner. Unless they are rescued, they will probably not live to be teenagers.

Bruce and Robert with a group of children in one of our schools!

We rescued these precious girls after we heard that the oldest sister had been raped and was pregnant by the slave owner. Our team went in and forcefully took the family and got them into a safe house.
We rescued this entire family from brutal conditions in a brick field
Bruce and Robert in ceremonial clothing given by the village where we are opening up a new school. This group of boys were all rescued from brutal slave conditions.

The Children's Rescue Initiative is currently focusing on major projects in Pakistan and Rwanda. Their work is dangerous and sometimes they are forced to use debatable tactics, such as buying children out of slavery, to save them. I like what they say about this on their website.

"We are taking and sometimes buying children out of slavery. We have paid money for many children. This is controversial, however in the very dangerous places where we operate, we must do things properly in order to avoid attacks and rioting. We use a variety of methods to free children. We NEVER deal with slave traders, only those who "own" the children. We negotiate debts that have kept these children in bondage. As of 2011, we have freed several hundred children from slavery."

I understand both sides of the argument on buying children out of slavery. But given the areas Children's Rescue initiative is operating, their experience in those areas and seeing some of the things they have accomplished, I think it's sometimes a necessary precaution to free these children.

I know I would be hard pressed to look into the eyes of an enslaved child, especially if it were my own, and not essentially pay a ransom for their freedom. This approach can lead to slave owners making a profit off organizations willing to pay for their freedom, only to go and enslave more children to work their fields, looms, brothels and other horrible situations no child should endure. It does not address the long-term means to end slavery, but it does address the immediate needs of that child. It's a tough dilemma that can vary on a case by case basis.

You can learn more at

Texas lawmaker aims to crackdown on adult industry and human trafficking

Bill HB 1929, proposed by the House Representative Bill Zedler(R), is taking aim at the adult industry in Texas with an effort to stem the tide of human trafficking and child prostitution within the state.

The Bill will regulate owners, operators, and independent contractors in adult industry with licensure program. This will require all employers and independent contractors in the adult industry to hold license to operate any adult establishment. The bill will also forbid licenses to anyone with a sex crime history, including, human trafficking, prostitution, incest, and child pornography.

Awareness regarding human trafficking and child prostitution in Texas has arisen over the last few months in part to the recent Super Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Legislator and local non-profit organizations held press conferences and awareness events about the issues of human trafficking in Texas, in particular the draw of trafficking and prostitution to Dallas during the Super Bowl.

In January 2011, the Governor, US Senator John Cornyn and Mayor Tom Leppert pledged to fight against human trafficking in Texas. Police task forces were created to crackdown on prostiution and over 13 people, inculding pimps and traffickers, were arrested leading up to the Super Bowl.

A recent bill was passed earlier this month making human trafficking a felony in Texas and providing stiffer penalties for those convicted.

Additional Article:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dallas Anti-Trafficking 5K Race! Virtual Runners Welcome

It's time to strap on those running shoes and get a little exercise for a great cause. I will see you there!

Mosaic Family Services, a Dallas based non-profit organization combating human trafficking and domestic violence, is preparing for their second annual Mosaic in Motion to Stop the Abuse 5K and 1M run. You can participate by running in the event yourself, or you can register online as a virtual runner.

This is a wonderful non-profit organization that I have written about in the past. One of the neat things about their 5K run is the option to be a "Virtual Runner."
  • Not everyone is in shape or desires to run 3.2 miles. (But you have 4 weeks to get there!)
  • Not everyone is available to run on May 14th.
  • Not everyone wakes up by 9am on Saturday.
  • Not everyone who would like to support this organization and their anti-trafficking work lives in the Dallas Area.

The solution. Register as a virtual runner. You can support this wonderful organization and you will also get a "Mosaic in Motion" T-Shirt mailed to you.

Here are the full race details.

Proceeds will benefit members of our community who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in critical need of the services provided by Mosaic Family Services.

To Register online: Click Here or download/print brochure and mail with a check made payable to Mosaic Family Services by April 30, 2011 to:

Mosaic Family Services
Attn: Nu Nguyen
4144 N. Central Expressway, Ste. 530
Dallas, TX 75204-2105

FEES (non-refundable)
Early registration by April 30, 2011 - $25
Registration by May 13, 2011 - $30
On-site registration on May 14, 2011 - $35
Youth ages 5-17 - $15
Youth ages 4 and under and four-legged friends are free.
T-shirts will be given to all registered participants at event.

Saturday, May 14, 2011
5K 9:00am
1 Mile 9:30am

Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve Amphitheater
2801 E. Spring Creek Parkway
Plano, TX 75074

START TIMES (Rain or Shine)
Registration and t-shirt pick up starts at 8:00 AM.
5K Run will start at 9:00 AM.
1 Mile will start at 9:30 AM.

If you cannot get in Motion on May 14th because you are out of town, have another commitment or if you just want to sleep in on race day, you can still participate! Signup as a Virtual Runner and register your support for Mosaic. As a Virtual Runner, you will still receive a t-shirt to show your valued involvement in this wonderful cause. You can even register the whole family as a Virtual Runner Team and support this great cause. Become a Virtual Runner now!

We have five (5) levels of Sponsorship that will provide your company with countless publicity, opportunities and recognition. These packages are a unique opportunity to position your company regionally while aligning with a wonderful cause! For more information on Sponsorship or if you want to be a Sponsor to this Cause please CLICK HERE.

Download Mosaic In Motion Brochure/Registration Form NOW!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Celebrities against slavery: Interview with Vincent Kartheiser of "Madmen" and "Angel"

I had a chance to meet briefly with actor Vincent Kartheiser of the hit TV shows Madmen and Angel, at the Freedom Awards last November. Vincent is new to the modern abolitionist cause and was a guest presenter at the Freedom Awards ceremony last November 7, 2010. He is also a bit of a self-proclaimed uber-hippie in that he has not owned a car in four years, lives in a minimalist house that has no toilet, and he goes to his neighbors to use the restroom when needed.Link
Not sure that's the lifestyle for me, mostly the no toilet borrow the neighbors thing, but I am glad he has turned his attention towards anti-slavery work and I hope the Freedom Awards helped garner future support from this talented actor.

Q: How did you first learn about modern slavery?
A: Through different documentaries and information sent to me from different charities, I know a small amount. When it comes to modern slavery, I actually know very little. I had no idea that there are nearly 30 million real slaves, not just people who are being used by corporations, but people who are actually living in real slave conditions. I didn't realize the number was so high. So I am very fresh in my education of this particular issue.

Q: What does freedom mean to you?
A: Well, you know that's a really good question and it's really difficult to say because it's really hard to say that the choices we make are actually associated with free choice. We're taught at a very young age to fall in line with certain ideas. Even recently I have started to question things I learned and thought I knew. We may be told that this is the right way to go about things and this way is wrong. And that may very well be true, but the idea that I can questions and make up my own mind is freedom.

On a whole different level I am very much free and enjoy many rights and privileges that others don't have. There's a lot of corruption and issues in societies today that take away these privileges for others.

Q: That's an interesting point. I know you met Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slaves, earlier. In one of his books, he compares areas with the most rampant slavery as being like the Wild West. There's severe corruption and lack of law and basic human rights which leads to more injustices and lacks of freedom.
A: Yes, that's true. It's true in American history as well.

Q: Are there any other causes you support?
A: I support a number of causes, but I don't sit on any board of directors or really work hand-in hand with a cause. Most of my work is through anonymous support. I am a big supporter of public transportation, different environmental causes and education, especially for women and children in developing nations.

Q: I understand you have not owned a car in years and you live in LA. How does that work?
A: It works quite well for me. I get rides with people and take the bus to work, but I have not owned a car in four years. It's my little contribution to help prevent pollution.