_For whatever reason, that line from The Beatles came into my head the other day. I hadn’t been listening to Sgt Peppers, nor had I heard ‘A Day in the Life’ recently; but for whatever reason, it stuck. I think it may have been because it seems that almost every newscast these days are talking about the hardships facing so many Americans and so many people around the world.
In the past few weeks we’ve found out that almost half of the population of the US can be classified as either poor or low income. We hear about food pantry shortages, homelessness, hunger, injustice around the world and I know that sometimes I think, ‘Wow, this sucks, but really, what is my 10 dollars really going to do?’
And so we get to ‘I read the news today, oh boy…’
I was struck recently by how little people know about modern day slavery. I would probably hear stories about sweatshop labour in developing countries and kids making sneakers if I were to ask anybody about it, but sadly the stories get more heartbreaking and can be closer to home than we imagine.
A truly tragic story is told in this article about Dubai. Promising work and good wages to the poor and then robbing them of any way to leave while forcing them into backbreaking and cruel labour is a typical tactic and often times government and law enforcement let it continue.
Similar stories exist in the states and a more prominent one involves the tomato workers in Immokalee, Florida. Here is a good overview on the living conditions and the nature of the work being endured by the workers. Too often we see companies exploiting the fear and ignorance of the law of immigrants for their own profit.
Here are a few other related stories on human trafficking:
'If you don't see it, you aren't looking', Miss Canada speaks out against human trafficking
Georgia gets an opportunity to enforce a new human trafficking law
Unfortunately a large case in Hawaii appears to have collapsed...
Another article on the Immokalee workers
Sadly, many of the trafficking tales involve children and forced prostitution, but some laws are trying to protect the people forced into prostitution from being treated like criminals
This is just a small peak into a very frightening and real world. But we can help stop this. When we know what companies are benefiting from slave labour, we can stop buying their goods or visiting their shops. We can speak up to our lawmakers that this is an issue and we want to see it addressed.
Police departments have community liaisons; ask them what your local PD is doing to combat human trafficking.
Many churches and non-profits offer assistance to people trying to escape slavery, acting like a safe house. Donate and volunteer.
Support the groups that already exist to fight this issue. Some examples include the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Not For Sale organization, and Amnesty International.
If we educate ourselves and act for justice, we can make a difference.
There's been a fair amount of news from across the world recently relating to a wide variety of justice issues. Here is a small sample for you all.
First off, some news from the Horn of Africa
Why is the famine in Somalia so bad? A variety of reasons...
One way to help in Africa...
Others include ELCA World Hunger and the International Red Cross. Bread for the World is another.
For an excellent primer on Africa that provides excellent examples of what citizens of the various nations are doing to try and help their neighbours, check out this article
Reuters gives a more in depth look at the reasons behind the rioting in Britain
Ive not the read the Orwell book that inspired this story, but I am putting it on my 'to read' list. You probably will want to as well after you read this from the BBC
The Starboarders site has some information on why we are supporting access to clean water (and by purchasing Chroma, you can help too!), but here is another look at the impacts of lack of access to clean water.
I haven't seen much else about this, but the UN's World Food Program reports that one-third of Afghans are facing a food shortage.
Food insecurity is, unfortunately, rampant in the US. For kids who grow up in that environment, it can have lifelong health implications.
Here is quick, and incomplete, look at some recent news events that are relevant to our mission...
9.1% unemployment? It's actually closer to 16%...
And as the unemployment rate rise, so does the number of people receiving food stamps; currently 1 in 7 Americans do...
- Here's an example for St. Paul, MN
If you aren't aware of what is currently happening in Africa, start paying attention.
- A little background...
- Even the emergency food supplies are almost gone...
How do we stop hunger worldwide? Try a bit of prevention. (This applies to a wide variety of things, and while not as exciting, is significantly cheaper than response)
Could more small farms help too? Some people think so...
What is the impact of increasing food prices? Question asked, question answered.
You may have heard about the recent Heritage Foundation report on the poor. Here's a bit of balance
Racial disparity in our foster care system? Unfortunately it's a national problem. Here is a report on the situation in Rhode Island
Unfortunately this barely scratches the surface... Food security and hunger are just symptoms of much larger systemic issues that need to change. We need to rethink the priorities of government and to rethink our own priorities. Let's keep working together to be the change that we want to see in this world
J Trapp (our resident expert on all things global and social awareness) writes...