a step forward.

It’s the last day of the month. The last day of the year. The last day of Dressember.  
  

sadly, this one didnt make the cut

 
 I’m really okay with not wearing dresses or blogging everyday anymore. It was a great and challenging experience, but I’m pretty excited for a more flexible style and schedule and jeans. I love me some jeans!

Did I have a crazy revelation or raise a boatload of money for Nepal? No, not so much. But that’s fine. I opened up about Nepal and trafficking. I learned about a few more organizations and got to be a part of a global movement to combat human trafficking. I hope y’all feel like you know a wee bit more about what’s going on in the world.  

So, though the month is over and nothing feels drastically different with my life or the slavery situation in the world, it’s okay because this was a step forward. A month to be open and vulnerable. A time of intention and purpose.

I don’t want this to be the end. And it won’t be. I can guarantee that. This was a good jump start for my trip to Nepal. For my future working to fight trafficking, whatever that may look like. I already have a couple plans for the beginning of the year to continue this journey or awareness and education.  

So, here’s to the new year. Here’s to education. Here’s to taking steps forward. Here’s to justice and grace. Here’s to value and dignity and feeling loved. Here’s to the beautiful people of Nepal.

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i have a dream.

It’s the end of the month and I feel like I keep saying the same thing over and over.  Trafficking sucks.  I love Nepal.  It’s prevalent there.  I want to do something about it.

Now, what does that look like?  I honestly don’t know.  For years, I’ve dreamed about starting a women’s ministry.  One that uses the story of Don Quixote and Dulcinea (Aldonza).  Something that helps these girls see they are loved and valued even if they don’t share those same feelings.  Something that shows them hope for future opportunities and a full life, despite what they’ve been through.

There would be training, because empowerment is a far better solution than a simple rescue-op and setting them free into a foreign life after being oppressed in a trafficking situation.  Uncertainty-management theory suggests victims are likely to return to the trafficked lifestyle for fear of what lies beyond that world (Thank you, Comm Theory).  There would also be counseling, because let’s be real, we all need counseling.  Patience, love, grace, support.  An open and honest community.  books, resources, time and space to process and heal.  I really believe this is key.  Everyone is going to handle things differently.  It’s a process.  a journey that each person needs to go on themselves, with the love and support of others.

These ideas are just ideas.  Nothing is in place.  It may just be a dream for the rest of my life, I’m not sure.  The more I look into organizations and what is currently being done, I see there are so many good NGOs out there.  The more I work at a start up nonprofit, the more confident I become that it must be a calling.  The more I think about this dream, the less sure I am.  photo-3

DQ and Dulcinea were a huge part of my process.  I fell in love with their story and can see myself in it.  It’s like one of those books or movies you love dearly.  You know the one you want everyone in the world to see and love….but they don’t.  They come up with all sorts of faults or say it’s just okay, or sit on their phone the whole time you’re watching it.  It’s super disappointing.  And your instinct is to protect this thing that you love so you don’t have to go through the disappointment again with someone else.

Maybe this is what I’m feeling.  Or maybe it’s not the right time for the dream.  Or maybe that dream was to get me through a season of life.  I honestly don’t know, but that’s where I’m at and I’m okay with it.  It may not take the form of a full-fledged nonprofit.  It may be purely online, one on one, visual, or written. I have no idea.  But I’m thankful God shared this redemptive story with me a good five years ago.  This nonprofit vision helped me see a purpose for my story.

higher ground nepal.

I want to take a few minutes to highlight another nonprofit doing wonderful things in Nepal.  I haven’t actually made contact with the founders, but we have several mutual friends and I hear nothing but good things.

hg_logo_small4


At Higher Ground, our mission is to restore the lives of individuals at risk of exploitation, human trafficking and social injustice through awareness, counseling and socio-economic empowerment.

Higher Ground has a cafe-bakery, craft workshop, and community development sector.  They employ and train many people, mostly women, who are in vulnerable places.

Let me tell you two things I love about this organization.

  1. They empower people.  They offer up skills and encourage dignity in the vulnerable individuals they employ.  They are trained with practical skills they can use in the city or back in the mountain villages.
  2. They’re sustainable!  I was planning on donating any Dressember money to Bimala and Higher Ground Nepal…but they’re self-sustainable between the cafe and jewelry businesses.  How awesome is that!?

I’d encourage you to check out the site and see what Higher Ground Nepal is all about.

gifts.

I just found several cool organizations through this article.  If you’re looking for meaningful Christmas gifts still and are okay with them coming a little late, check out these 3 shops.  If you want to see all 8, check out the article linked.

The items sold by the following brands are made by victims of trafficking, be it sex slavery or forced labor.  You can support the organizations and individuals by making a meaningful purchase this season.

Punjammies: Indian women: adorable PJ pants and sets.home_pg_row1_1

MULXIPLY:  Nepali men and women: handcrafted goods (jewelry and bagsmulxiply.PNG

Good Paper:  Philippines and Rwanda ladies:  some good, quality, quirky stationery!  handcrafted_handsigned

 

modern day abolitionist.

  
I’m on the road tonight. Big Blue is heading east this time! I just finished my turn driving and man Oh man. I think it’s the combination of dark winter nights starting far too early, glasses with a glare, Christmas music, and my streak of late nights this month but I only lasted about an hour and a half before coffee and a break was necessary.  
While I was driving, I couldn’t help but admire the stars. I love stars. Always have and always will. Stargazing is also one of my favorite pastimes…along with fridge gazing. 🙂
As Orion loomed ahead of me, I started thinking about Nepal. And how they see the same stars as me…maybe some different constellations, but the same nonetheless. I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. It was an incredibly beautiful, even holy moment. I laid in an Iowa field in absolute awe of this God that I serve. The galaxy lay above me, too many stars to count. Too vast, too immense to comprehend. And I get the privilege to bask in His glory.

And then, I thought about the Underground Railroad. I like to think I would’ve taken part in it if I were around back then. I like to think I couldn’t have bought into the business of slavery. That I wouldn’t be able to see past these individuals’ inherent value to place a price on their head. I like to think I would have stood with them. Stood up for them in this terrible injustice. I like to think the world wouldn’t sway me or my convictions. But I know me. I’m weak. So I can’t say for certain if I’d be standing with the oppressed back then. But everything in me says I wouldn’t have conformed.

I can say that I am willing to be a modern day abolitionist. A stop on the Underground Railroad, if you will. To help the oppressed along the way. To advocate, protect, support. To encourage, listen and understand. To challenge and take risks. To love, offer grace, and be moved with compassion.
That’s what I want to do. I can’t really see myself being the Harriet Tubman of Nepal, but I would gladly be the open arms at the end of the road, welcoming them in, taking care of them and loving them fully as they recover, reflect, regroup, and God redeems their stories.  

Those are my thoughts on this bleak midwinter night. Big Blue out.

what do you want?

It’s been a snowy, frigid, blustery sort of weekend.  That means movies, blankets, and Christmas cards.  It’s been a chill (pun most definitey intended) Saturday watching some of my favorite movies.

I started with Mary and Martha.  It’s one I’d seen pop up online but I never sat down to watch it.  so good.  Two boys die of malaria in Mozambique.  The mothers meet and decide to do something about this very preventable health crisis killing far too many children each year.

My next movie was Lady Jane.  This one is good and challenging for so many reasons.  Lady Jane ruled Engald for a mere nine days, but in that time, she stood up for justice, displayed mercy, spoke out for the outcast and poor, and defended her faith.  “I want a world where men are not branded and men are not sent to slavery because they cannot grow the food they are to eat….A world where the happiness and comfort of a few are not bought by the misery of many.”

And finally, Patch Adams.  Patch is an unconventional medical student.  Instead of treating a diagnosis, he treats a person holistically.  He knows their name.  He listens.  He laughs and cries with them.  He looks beyond the problem to see the whole person.  He eventually started the Geshundheit Institute, an organization that challenges modern hospitals and how treatment is carried out.

These three movies have a couple things in common.  Their based on true stories.  They’re also about strong individuals who saw a need, had convictions, and decided to do something about them.  That’s what Dressember is for me.  It’s my start to doing something about the injustices happening in Nepal.

Now, I understand not everyone cares about human trafficking.  That’s okay.  It’s great actually.  There are so many important issues out there.  Sarah McLaughlin has her mutilated puppies.  Michelle Obama, nutrition.  Bono, Africa.  Leo DiCaprio, the environment.

What’s your cause?  What sort of changes do you want to see?  What are you going to do about it.  Think about it.  What are you passionate about?  What makes you angry?  Lean into that and start to look at how you could get involved in alleviating the needs that arise.

new light nepal.

I’ve had a couple people ask about how they can contribute to my Dressember cause.  We’re halfway through the month and I just figured it out…tonight.  I’ve been reserved and contemplative about this decision for two reasons.  One, I haven’t been to Nepal or seen any ministries in action. Two, I don’t want to harm the good being done.  After reading both Toxic Charity and When Helping hurts, this is really important to me.

I wanted to keep the funds in Nepal instead of going through the official Dressember site and supporting their partnering organizations.  So, that’s where the complication came into play.  BUT, here we are and I have a NGO in mind.

logoMeet New Light Nepal.  They work to “end human trafficking, child marriage, and violence against women and children of Nepal, while demonstrating to them the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.”  They increase awareness of human trafficking to prevent future issues and empower Nepali women through education and training.

One thing that’s really cool about this organization is their grassroots program for mothers.  It’s called Mothers Against Trafficking (MAT) and they encourage mothers to form support groups and advocate for their daughters.  MAT also provides training to stand against any future trafficking from happening in their communities.  The really exciting thing about it is that the graduates from the MAT program then go on to teach other villages about trafficking and how parents can get involved and prevent it in their communities.

If you’d like to learn more or donate to New Light Nepal, check out their website.  Right now, it doesn’t appear that they are accepting online donations.  I can email them and update you.  If you don’t feel like sending a check to Nepal, you can send it to me, I’ll compile any donations and take them over in March when I’m in Kathmandu.