International Women’s Day Around the Corner

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Who Inspires You?

I have a friend who heard a story. It broke her heart and it filled the quiet spaces in her mind. It was sad story, even disturbing. In her busy life of mothering two children, running a home, having a part-time job and being a wife, sister and daughter, Kimberly stayed with the story. She did not push it away or ignore it.

In her sunny life in southern California, a dark cloud began following her around. Kimberly had just woken up to the reality of modern-day slavery — the reality that there are more than 27 million people in slavery today and the majority of them are women and children. There are more slaves today than ever before in the history of the world. Untold numbers are young girls being used in the sex trafficking business — a business in which criminals make billions of dollars per year.

My friend did not hear this traumatic reality and dismiss it as “too overwhelming.” One day, while driving in the car listening to her young daughter sincerely explain that slavery had ended with Abraham Lincoln, Kimberly’s heart burned for women and girls everywhere. Her daughter’s innocence and her own newly shattered ignorance awoke a sleeping lioness hungry for justice.

Kimberly became an abolitionist. She began blogging for the first time on her blog, Abolitionist Mama, and she started talking about all she was learning about the reality of extreme poverty — that 1.4 billion people live on less than $1 a day. Conditions of poverty create the breeding grounds for trickery, as parents sell their children to pay off a loan in the misguided hope of a better life. All this feeds the beast of human trafficking.

In fact, Kimberly would not shut up about it. She gathered her girlfriends, who have become the San Clemente Abolitionists. These passionate women put on events in their community to raise awareness. Among many other activities, they present screenings of documentaries where they invite community leaders, and they host fair trade coffee and chocolate events at a local wine and cheese shop.

Kimberly’s stubborn refusal to be overwhelmed or paralyzed by a massive global problem inspired her friends and her town. She inspires me, because quite frankly, the issue of extreme poverty and what it can do to a family and to an individual is unpleasant to think about. The fact that women all over the world risk becoming a victim of sex slavery by believing someone who claims they have a good job for them in a far away city is unthinkable. The fact that most women know the risk and yet still believe because it is their best option is something very difficult for ordinary American women to understand and accept. Yet it is the reality of more than 27 million people today.

Kimberly inspires me because as a self-described Abolitionist Mama, she is not only educating her town; she is also educating her children. Her daughter now understands that slavery did not end with Abraham Lincoln. Even though she is still in grade school, her daughter also understands the importance of knowing where our products come from and how they were harvested or made. Kimberly has inspired me to do the same with my children.

We all have our spheres of influence and Kimberly, the Abolitionist Mama, proves that together we make a difference.

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