Yesterday I received a book in the mail titled “Not for Sale: The return of the global slave trade – and how we can fight it.” David Batstone is the author and co-founder to the organization “Not for Sale” which started 4 1/2 years ago in San Francisco. Hopefully once I read this book I will regain hope in my fellow world sojourners that we can DO something to eradicate this crime of slavery and human trafficking. It reads on the back of the book “Advisory: This book deals with mature subject matter.” Of course if a teenager comes across that kind of warning they may be curious and actually want to READ the book. In any case, I may skip the gory details and get the salient message of HOPE of how we can fight this evil.
I need hope after what about ten of us women did this past weekend in raising over one thousand dollars to send back to Kazakhstan to help aid the shelters there for trafficked victims, men and women. Don’t get me wrong, I am very optimistic that informed people want to do something for trafficked victims all the way across the world. But I’m discouraged for two reasons. First, we have the same problem of human trafficking here in this state of Minnesota and throughout the U.S. Maybe I heard too many stories from people who came to our sale. I would judge about 200 people came through our doors. We had several generous money donations from about five individuals. The rest of the stuff at our rummage sale went for 50 cents each. Thankfully we had people donate their clothes and other cast-off items because they knew this was for a good cause. Second, I’m feeling very sad because so few westerners really do know what is going on in the rest of the world. We eat (chocolate), drink (coffee) and wear clothes that is the result of others who were perhaps exploited in their manual labor.
This past weekend I heard about a book titled “Where Am I Wearing: a global tour to the countries, factories and people that make our clothes.” What is with books and their long subtitles? Anyway, when I put on my clothes today after a deep freeze from last night, I saw that my turtleneck was made in Vietnam, my fleece top made in Taiwan, my favorite jeans in Mexico…and my rawhide slippers have the Cabela trademark but not sure where they were put together. Maybe the U.S.?
We have to ask ourselves, as the author Kelsey Timmerman did, where were my clothes made that I’m wearing. More importantly, how much was the laborer NOT paid to make them? Timmerman ended up going to Honduras, Bangladesh, Cambodia and China to find out the factories and what conditions the laborers worked in. Think about it, we have nice clothes to wear that we eventually discard to rummage sales that are sold for cheap! In our case we were selling clothes, all you can fit in a bag, for $2.
Another book I want to read is “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy” by Kevin Bales. But maybe I need to take a break from this sadness and do something else like can the tomatoes that didn’t succumb to the deep frost last night or do some more pickling of the cucumbers I have saved up. We live such a privileged life in the U.S. Therefore, I think I would feel more hopeful if Americans would wake up to the reality that we have a very good life at the expense of others living on $1 a day, if that.
Of course I am very hopeful for the ladies who came alongside me to DO something to help eradicate human trafficking and slavery. We have so much to learn if we are going to be globalized citizens. We wear clothes and use technology that have been touched by other hands that go away empty handed from all their labors. May this NOT be so…