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Charity of the Month | Free the Slaves

by Sica Schmitz | Posted on July 01 2017

Each month we give back to a different cause or charity that is bettering the world, and this month we are excited to support our Charity on the Month Free the Slaves in two different ways. Along with giving back a potion of each purchase to help this remarkable anti-trafficking non-profit, we are also hosting our 3rd Annual Fair Trade Fashion Show Fundraiser to directly benefit them. 

Since 2000, Free the Slaves has helped awaken the world to the fact that slavery still exists, why it does, and where it’s worst. They've developed a global blueprint for change to inform governments, international institutions, faith communities, businesses, and the public what they can do and currently work directly in six countries: India, Nepal, Ghana, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti.

I spoke to Allie Gardner, the Special Project Manager at Free the Slaves about modern slavery, fair trade fashion, and how to stay fueled as an activist.

Free the Slaves Bead & Reel Charity of the Month

What is a biggest misconception you hear about the modern day slavery, and what's the truth about it?

I think the misconception I deal with the most is simply that slavery is a thing of the past or that it doesn't really exist.  More than once I've been asked, "Didn't slavery end with the civil war?"  What people often fail to realize is that slavery exists in many different forms all around the world today.  Though it is illegal everywhere, it happens everywhere.  And just because it doesn't always look like the slavery of American history, doesn't mean it is not still considered slavery.  In fact, slavery is defined as the holding of people at a workplace through force, fraud, or coercion for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor.  The way slavery presents itself depends on many factors, but it can take the form of debt bondage, sex trafficking, forced marriage, and domestic servitude, among others.

What is the link between modern day slavery and fashion?

Fashion industry supply chains often face issues with forced labor and slavery.  Not only is forced labor an issue at the commodity level (cotton, textiles, leather, etc.) but it is also widely seen at the manufacturing stages of supply chains.  Fortunately, as more and more people become aware of the issue of forced labor in the fashion industry, brands are beginning to have to rethink their production practices.

Free the Slaves Bead & Reel Charity of the Month


What is the easiest way for someone to help end modern day slavery regardless of location or income?

I think that one of easiest ways people can get involved in this issue is by being a conscious consumer.  The fashion industry operates off of buyer-driven commodity chains that are influenced by the decisions of consumers.  Because of this, by simply questioning and raising awareness about production practices, consumers can influence the fashion industry's relationship with atrocities such as slavery.  There's a great quote from author Anna Lappé that I always think of when talking about conscious consumerism.  It says, "Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want."

What are some of your favorite fair trade brands?

Besides Bead & Reel, I really love Maven Women, Malia Designs, Mata Traders... actually there are too many ethical fashion brands that I love for me to list them all!

Free the Slaves Bead & Reel Charity of the Month

What can do we do in our local community to eradicate slavery?

One really easy way to get involved in this cause within your local community is to spread awareness about human trafficking and modern slavery.  Consider starting a discussion about the issue wherever you work, study, live, or worship. We have tons of resources on our website to help get these conversations going or help you plan an event in your community.


What can we do to support survivors once they are freed?

It is extremely important that after survivors of slavery are liberated they receive reintegration services.  This helps survivors re-enter a life of freedom and keeps them from falling back into the traps of slavery.  Supporting organizations that place an emphasis on the importance of aftercare services for survivors is one of the best ways you can get involved in this cause.


Do you have a favorite uplifting story/experience that you can share about something special that has happened at or because of your efforts with Free the Slaves?

In November my boss, FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg, visited our programs in Ghana with one of our board members.  Upon his return he shared this story with our team, and I've always found it to be so fascinating and encouraging.


Activism is hard work - what's your favorite vegan recipe to keep you fueled? 

Lately, I've been really into this chickpea and spinach curry recipe!! 


What quote or song keeps you inspired?

I'm a big fan of this quote by Victor Hugo: "Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
 

Other ways to get involved:

 

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