Hurray, March has arrived and not a day too soon! In fact with leap day yesterday, it has arrived later than usual and is quite calm. Like a little lamb, calm. I went x-country skiing (again) this morning and am loving it. Soon enough we will have spring thaws and then the snow will be of the irksome quality that is not good for anyone except maybe the farmers. They could probably use more precipitation since this winter we have not had much snow. All round it has been a very tolerable winter to be back home in Minnesota. March has been known to go out like a lion into April. I’m bracing myself and meanwhile missing Astana and Kazakhstan.
I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling in the next month or two giving talks about Kazakhstan and human trafficking. That is my starting point when I launch into what many people in the Midwest don’t know much about: Kazakhstan and human trafficking. So I know I will have to show an obligatory map of KZ sandwiched in between China and Russia. Hopefully my audiences will have that geographically fixed in their minds. Then I will give a definition of trafficking. I know many Americans don’t realize trafficking is more than just sex trafficking because it includes manual labor in tobacco and cotton fields, construction sites, child soldiers, organ transplantation, etc. In fact, the definition of human trafficking as defined by the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force is the following:
“Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, enticement, provision, obtaining or receipt of any person by any means for the purpose of facilitation of sexual or economic exploitation.”
Yes, we have trafficking in Minnesota but sadly this above definition applies on a global level as well. I will have to add that definition in my powerpoint slides of other photos showing off the artificial beauty of Astana’s buildings. Such buildings were built by forcibly migrated workers (from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan) exploited to work with little or no pay in conditions that were intolerable. I think of my friend Isobel who x-country skied in the park in Astana near where she lived. She would go out to ski every morning even in temps that were 20-30 below F. However, she did that of her own volition and she got the needed exercise. The laborers who worked on the new, glitsy buildings in Astana worked for hours and hours against screaming deadlines to get the construction accomplished so it could be occupied immediately!
I know these stories and more and every time I give a talk to an attentive audience, I hear more sad stories from a few who are “in-the-know” about trafficking. That is why I LOVE creating cards that are recycled from old greeting cards. I have gotten many donations of not only cards but of cardstock, envelopes, scrapbook material, etc. In the last several days I have made about 70 Easter cards to sell. We call these cards “Card-Again” and the profit from sales go to “Not for Sale, Minnesota.” Anyway, it is fun to put the little “cardigan” sweater stamp on the back of each “Card-Again” cards.
This last talk I gave in a neighboring town 45 miles away, a woman told me a joke. I’m not so good with jokes, my husband does a better job with timing and giving the punch line. But, I think I can manage this one.
“A woman was speeding down the freeway but she was also knitting a sweater while she was driving. A highway patrol on a motorcycle caught up with her and rode along side her yelling “Pull over, Pull over!” She yelled right back, “No, it’s a cardigan!”
So, I hope to tell this joke, give the definition of human trafficking and show photos of Kazakhstan in my next talks coming up. The fun part is meeting the people afterwards and my husband is loving it as well. We are a team and I hope that I can bring in a sizable profit to send to Not For Sale that goes to the human trafficking shelters in Minneapolis and St. Paul.