Walk For Freedom

On October 19, 2019 the largest global effort to bring awareness to human trafficking occurred!

In 2017 I was invited to bring the Walk For Freedom to one of the countries in North Africa.

What is the Walk For Freedom?  This is an annual walk that brings awareness to the issue of human trafficking to countries all over the world!  A21 started this movement and it is incredible to see the impact around the world it has to shedding light on such a dark subject to all corners of the globe.

I was honored to try and make this happen!  I made incredible progress in the accomplishing that goal when only given one month to do it!  Keep in mind things don't move at the same pace in North Africa as they do in western culture, so progress in one month for such a big goal was a huge success!  During the process, I was able to meet many officials who were encouraging of such a work that included a very sensitive and shameful subject like Human Trafficking.

One of the road blocks to actually seeing the walk for freedom take place was that A21 was not an official organization in the country, and therefore couldn't be given permission to launch such an event.  Because of this hindrance, another government official encouraged me to start an organization there that could begin fighting this injustice!  I was surprised by the encouragement because typically slavery is very touchy subject.

That suggestion launched me into a very prayerful time of what should the next steps be.  Not getting permission to do the walk was disappointing but the process opened doors to something entirely unexpected and potentially more impactful.  I decided to contact an old friend who I knew had a heart to fight human trafficking as I did.  When I called her to tell her about all of the progress, she excitedly told me she was back in North Africa and launching a transition home for girls to prevent human trafficking!!  As we talked we reminded each other of our shared passion, and she asked if I would consider joining the team.

That was how I became part of Beauty For Ashes and this incredible mission to combat slavery in North Africa, and restore beauty and dignity to all humanity!

Check out this article from Fox News on this year's Walk for Freedom:

Global walk to end human trafficking reaches millions: 'Slavery still exists'

 

-Chrissy


STORY: Learning About Human Trafficking

In my second year of college, I decided to volunteer for a service project that would take me from my comfortable spot in Southern California all the way across the country to Baltimore, MD for ten days. At the time, I was hoping to find a way to make a difference in the world. Soon I was placed on a team with four other girls, and our task was to help an outreach center in whatever way they needed.

Our first few days involved cleaning out two buildings of junk, serving food to the homeless, and helping at a school in a poor neighborhood. Our efforts were visibly helpful; mouths were fed, children were helped and smiling, and the regular outreach volunteers were clearly relieved at not having to bear the entire burden for a time. It felt as though I was able to make a difference, small though it may have been, and I was satisfied. I did my part; maybe I could go on another service project in a year.

With a couple days left before we headed back home, a lady from the outreach center called us together for a meeting one early morning. She introduced us to a friend of hers and a partner of the outreach center named Anne*; we were told we’d be working with her for the final two days. As she sat with us, Anne began talking very seriously about her line of work: caring for women who have been and are currently being trafficked in Maryland. These women, she explained, had been coerced into their position, taken from their homes in other cities, states, and even countries—some could not speak English, some could not read or write. Some had been trafficked, used and abused, for more than a decade.

As a young, white college student who came from a middle class family, I was utterly speechless; I’d never heard the term “human trafficking” before, let alone known about it. I was appalled at mankind—could a person truly force another into hard labor or sex? Could slavery still possibly exist in this day and age—in America? Anger surged through me as I listened, thoughts racing through my head how to stop this from happening.

That day, Anne brought me and one other girl along with her to search for women being pimped out on the streets of Baltimore for sex. The moment was surreal as I pointed at a teenager standing on a corner and asked, “Do you think she is one?” Yes, Anne confirmed, as she motioned towards a man across the street, standing with his eyes sharply focused on the girl. “He watches that nobody takes her away without his consent,” Anne said. We had to pull a U-turn a couple times before parking, then Anne quickly jumped out to give the young girl a plastic bag filled with toiletries. I stared from the car window, watching this young girl deny the bag, shift her eyes towards the man, grab the bag quickly, and walk away. Anne came back, telling me the girls always deny the bag out of fear of being punished but they eventually take it because they need the items so badly—toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, pads. They don’t always get these basic things from the men and women who run their lives.

As I sat on the plane at the end of that ten-day trip, I no longer felt satisfied; what difference had I truly made? Instead, I felt defeated knowing the impact I could make on human trafficking would be dismal. Why even try?

Unfortunately, human trafficking isn’t limited to the streets of Baltimore, MD. It extends around the globe, affecting every single country in the world. Pointedly, North Africa is a prime target for human trafficking due to its position between Europe, the Americas, and Sub-Saharan Africa; it is a major transit zone, as well as a destination spot for many young girls and boys being forced into labor and sex.

It’s been almost ten years since I visited Baltimore. The overwhelming feeling that I am too small to help still comes over me, but now I know the refrain: I am not fighting alone. If we work together, we can be a force that will defeat human trafficking, breaking the bonds of slavery. If we stand and fight together for justice, we can make a difference. We certainly have a responsibility to help, protect, and free our brothers and sisters as we are able. This is why Beauty For Ashes exists—to protect girls from being trafficked and restore those who were. Will you join us?

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

*Names have been changed for privacy


Volunteers are the Best!

I want to take a moment to say Thank You to two amazing people.  Russell and Stacey. These two people have come to Morocco for the past 7 months from Texas to volunteer their time with Beauty For Ashes.  How incredibly generous is that?

Stacey and Russell immediately became dear friends to us and to our community.  They are easy to like, fun to be around, and hard workers. You can’t get much better than that!  We have been so blessed by their efforts to help our grass-roots organization find our footing and build a strong foundation.  They have quickly become integral to the BFA team, and we are so sad their time is coming to an end.

Stacey and Russell both coordinated, organized and ran activities in the girl’s detention centers.  They worked everyday of the summer camp we held in Fes. They have helped us navigate the chaos of understanding grants and filing the endless stream of documents.  They have dreamt and brainstormed big goals and visions with us, and they have given wise counsel when needed. They didn’t stop there, they have tirelessly helped on every little request we send their way, and even volunteered their time with other groups here doing amazing work in the community, such as a surf camp Kai Shapes does every summer with a local orphanage.  They are always willing to give, never complaining, and up for any adventure.

They have embraced Morocco in all its crazy cultural differences, and immersed themselves in the people and culture of our town.  They have taken the good and the bad all in stride, and trusted there was a purpose behind it all. They have patiently pursued direction on what the next steps are for them all the while wishing they could stay, but being willing to go if led.  

There are not enough words to thank them for their time, their gifts, their energy, and their passion that they have given to Beauty For Ashes.  We are blessed to have had them, and we are sad to see them go. But, we send them off with blessings and knowing wherever they land that place and those people will be given a most unexpected, wonderful gift.  

So, we say Thank You to two of the most generous people!  And we know this is only see you later, because no matter where they end up next, they remain committed to staying connected and helping as we continue in our work here in Morocco.

Cheers to two people who have become some of our closest friends, and are some of the best volunteers we could ask for!

Blessings on your next adventure!