Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trafficking Statistics

Recently, I stumbled across a website that questions some of the common statistics used by anti-trafficking organizations. And that got me thinking.

I think that it's good to be a critical thinker and not just parrot everything you hear from authorities. Yes, I'm a product of the "Question Authority" generation. But since then, I've grown a little wiser. And when people tell me to question authority, I always ask, "Who says?"

You see, we all rely on some authority for the beliefs and conclusions that we've drawn. After all, I don't have the time nor the funding to do a fancy study to determine the exact statistics about the scope of trafficking both here in the US and abroad. And I would hazard a guess that even those folks questioning the statistics don't have much good solid data to back up their skepticism.

That brings me to another point. I would think that truly reliable statistics on such issues would be extremely hard to come by. After all, how many traffickers are going to sign up for that survey? "Please check the number of persons you've trafficked over the last twelve months: [ ] 1 - 10 [ ] 11 - 50 [ ] 51 - 200…" You get the point.

So when it comes to statistics, I honestly think that there's a lot of Kentucky Windage involved in computing them on both sides of the debate. However, a lot of the folks passing along the common statistics that you hear are good folks with feet on the ground doing the work to help victims, including children who are being exploited for labor and commercial sex work.

Here's one thing I do know. I've met children who have been exploited for labor and commercial sex work. They are in programs that I serve as a volunteer. And I've decided the most important number when it comes to trafficking statistics is the number 1. For me, one child slave is one too many. And as long as one child (for that matter, one adult) is exploited this way, I will work to fight trafficking.

Let me offer this challenge to the statistic skeptics: Do something meaningful to help one traffic person. Volunteer some of your time. Donate just a portion of your money to the cause. Speak out against this injustice. And go ahead and be skeptical. Just don't be someone who offers nothing to this fight other than your criticism.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jewelry Program at Rapha House

Our “NEW LIFE by design” training program equips survivors of trafficking with the skills to make exotic, one-of-a-kind jewelry designs. The Rapha girls that are preparing to graduate from our safehouse need a dignified way to support themselves. We are hiring a professional trainer to teach these girls jewelry making skills. And we need your help

We are asking you to look through your collection of long ignored jewelry with an eye to give it new life. That one remaining crystal earring, the necklace with great beads you’ve been intending to fix, that unusual bracelet with the broken clasp, or maybe a piece you never got around to wearing—these all can find new life!

Send your jewelry donation to Rapha House, Attn: Opal Singleton, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. And we’ll bring new life to your old jewelry.

Maybe you’re a bead collector or bead maker. A gift of your beads can be a great way to bring new life to a rescued girl giving her a chance to support herself once she leaves our safehouse.

Spread the word. Tell your mother, sisters, daughters, and friends. Tell your Sunday school class, women’s group, or sorority. Host a “NEW LIFE by design” party and invite guests to bring their old jewelry. Tell those who attend about child trafficking and Rapha House.

Collect your old jewelry; put it in a baggie; and then send it to us. Be sure to include any special stories associated with the pieces that you send.

Send your jewelry donation to Rapha House, Attn: Opal Singleton, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. And we’ll bring new life to your old jewelry.

If you wish, make a financial contribution to help this project. Donations will help us secure equipment and supplies, as well as compensate our trainer. We appreciate you investment in the future of our girls.

For more information email Opal Singleton at

To you it’s old jewelry, to her it’s a chance to for a NEW LIFE by design.