Last month my friend Liz and I hosted a charity event- Galentine’s Day, to be specific. Over the years I’ve come to use this holiday as a way to share my passion for advocacy and what I’m learning with my friends. Last year I was surprised by how many people were interested in coming to my event. As the names of friends and friends-of-friends expressed interest I decided to see if there was a way to up my game and bring the event to the next level. I took to Google (as one does) and I learned about local brands and companies with values similar to my personal ones and reached out to see if we could parter. I included the goodies in the gift bags, and carved out both space and time during the event for those brands to share what they’re about and how they’re putting people first- how they’re serving those both locally and globally.
Since learning more about human trafficking in 2017, I’ve been drawn to companies taking this injustice personally and participating in the fight. That’s when I found out about My Half of the Sky, a local social justice coffee shop fighting human trafficking and why I made it my coffee shop home base. This year Galentine’s Day was even more special. Again the group gathered- this time at a new location, My Half of the Sky. We rented out the upstairs event room and made space to advocate for women and young girls. It felt more real- more attainable for us to make a difference because we were in a coffee shop that provides opportunity for those women and girls who were trafficked, through employment. We were in a space raising funds to put an end to this injustice and we were seeing what our efforts and passions are able to accomplish. I have met a few of the ladies who have overcome trafficking and who are now creating a beautiful free life for themselves- and for some, their children as well.
MISSIO was one of the brands I reached out to this year and was thrilled when they agreed to send sample shampoo and conditioner sets for the goodie bags. I wrote a previous post on MISSIO (which you can read here) sharing their mission. They immediately came to mind for this year because I not only genuinely like their products, but I think it’s important to introduce how we can easily make lifestyle changes without going to extremes. When hair products run out, this is an easy swap to make! Another reason I wanted MISSIO onboard with the event is to provide an additional outlet for those attending to get involved. My Half of the Sky, The My Half Kitchen, Naomi’s House, Generation Distinct, Reclaim13, and now MISSIO- the names of organizations all accepting advocates and volunteers to help breaking down the barriers of trafficking.
What Is human trafficking?
“Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into selling sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions.” – Polaris. I first learned about Galentine’s Day from a Parks & Recreation meme. I didn’t (still don’t) watch the show, but fell in love with the idea. February is one of my favorite months of the year because I look forward to seeing how one day myself and the community can come together to recognize and celebrate other women and young girls. Instead of just doing this for the ladies we know in our lives, we’re thinking about those who need support- who don’t have community or someone telling them on February 13th- or any other day of the year that they are important and they matter- and not just for what they can do, but for who they truly are.
The weight of the mission is heavy on my heart and mind nearly a month later. I can’t help but think about the women we were helping- the faces we will never see, the names we will never know, the conversations we will never have- did they know that night we were rooting for them? That we still are? Did they know it was Galentine’s Day and we were taking the time on a Thursday night, to show up -to advocate and be their community? Do they know? I can’t stop wonder “what if it was me?” A loaded question, I know. But, I’d like to think if I was in this circumstance that someone, somewhere- one single person would care enough about me- a complete stranger, to help. The more I work with these organizations- learning and researching about how their efforts are different from charity organizations, and their reach, the more hope I have. Maybe it is as simple as purchasing a cup of coffee and hair products from these places to put an end to trafficking. This year, Galentine’s Day, My Half of the Sky, and MISSIO helped me to see how we can change things, together. This article isn’t sponsored and there are zero affiliate links. I’m sharing my thoughts- my hopes and dreams and wonder if you can envision the same world as me- one traffic free. If so, I’d like to encourage and also ask you to please use your purchasing power to make a change. You have a voice and it matters. By deciding to support social enterprises such as MISSIO and My Half of the Sky, you’re using your dollar to evoke real change. Your voice and the dollar bill hold a great deal of power. If you don’t believe me, read the MISSIO “real series” section on their blog.
MISSIO isn’t exclusively selling products. They’re in the field and educating. An article from their blog about how a woman walking her dog was able to fend off an abductor and seek proper help shares this: “as soon as this started happening, everything that you taught us popped in my mind.”. Who knew what would have happened if MISSIO hadn’t “visited her salon to educate them on human trafficking […] trained the staff about the realities of this issue in their city, the warning signs and red flags they might encounter, and how to assist someone who may be at risk or a victim”. MISSIO brings to light the reality and danger we ALL face. Human trafficking isn’t a risk for only women and young girls in developing countries or poverty stricken neighborhoods. Human trafficking is an injustice not limited by race, religion, age, geographical location or anything else. Human trafficking happens in quite literally every single place- even your own town, as safe as you may think it is. It’s important to be aware of the risks and protect yourself. It’s equally important to educate ourselves on the warning signs and how we may encounter those being trafficked in our day to day life. It’s crucial to be able to understand how to SAFELY provide support to those affected while remaining safe ours
No matter who you are- occupation, location, age- please take a moment to sit down and equip yourself with the knowledge MISSIO provides. Please educate yourself with their free resources and share the link with others. https://www.missiohair.com/education. After taking the time to learn, treat yourself to a new hair product on their website and pop into My Half of the Sky (if you’re not local, share the mission online and with those you know in the area).
At the end of my life, I want to be able to look back and remember the day- the exact moment, when human trafficking ended … for good.
Thank you again to all of the women and young girls- to the sponsors and to the community for supporting my Galentine’s Day events.