Support USA Survivors of Human Trafficking

Did you know that human trafficking is prevalent in the United States? Yes–you read that right! Human trafficking is an atrocity that happens everywhere, and even in developed countries like the USA.

  • Experts indicated in 2010 that there were currently at least 100,000 child victims of sex trafficking in the United States while upwards of 325,000 remain at risk.
  • In 2016, Human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from the previous year, according to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Clearly, this is a huge problem! The good news: you can help! I’m partnering with my friend Hannah and Trades of Hope this month. Your purchase will go toward helping women rescued out of human trafficking in the USA. Bonus: in February, proceeds will also go toward helping families in India have clean water!

Trades of Hope works with two American co-ops: one based in Los Angeles helping women leave industries of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, another based in Tennessee that offers sustainable jobs to women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction. These groups provide different forms of housing, food, dental, medical, therapy, education and job training so these women can build a brighter future for themselves. When women come into this group, they are offered the resources needed to go through recovery, heal from childhood wounds, and get physically healthy. Creating products is a beautiful part of that process that helps them also make an income while they heal. The co-ops create jewelry and body products.

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Shana (middle) is one of the women who escaped a life of trafficking and now works for the Tennessee co-op as a sales rep for the body product line. Courtesy of Trades of Hope.

Here are a few of the products available, created with love and hope by the women employed in the USA co-ops:

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Love Heals set, created by women in the Tennessee co-op//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

 

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New Leaf earrings//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

 

Are you interested in helping not only the women rescued from human trafficking in the USA, but also helping families in India have clean water? Head on over to Trades of Hope! 

Previous: I blogged about the work of Trades of Hope in Uganda!

Next: I will be blogging about the work of Trades of Hope in Jordan!

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Help Our Sisters in Uganda!

This is the next post about Trades of Hope to follow up on my previous post! You can support women across the world (including women rescued from human trafficking in the USA!) as they create fair trade, beautiful products! This month, any purchases will also go toward clean water for families in India. Go here to help out!

Today I’m sharing about Uganda and what Trades of Hope is doing there. I was super pumped to hear that Trades of Hope works with an artisan group founded by Katie Davis Majors! If you haven’t heard of her, Katie is an amazing woman about my age who skipped college and followed a call to move to Uganda instead! She ended up adopting 13 girls (yes, you read that right!) and started Amazima, an organization that provides many empowering services to communities in Uganda. She also wrote two books. Over a decade later, she’s still living in Uganda with her husband, 13 girls, and a baby boy!
Ok, back to some background on Uganda: Uganda is a beautiful country in eastern central Africa that faces incredible challenges. Extreme poverty has hindered the government’s ability to stop the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic on the people of Uganda. Uganda has the third highest birth rate in the world, and Ugandans struggle to provide for their families. Many of these women have faced disabilities, AIDS, and

Ugandan women
Courtesy of Hannah//Trades of Hope

oppression. Through their work as artisans, these women have a chance to be creative, speak their minds, and also earn a living to provide food, education, and medical care for their families. Working in safe environments, completing projects in beading circles, these ladies have left their harmful occupations and are rising above as leaders in their communities.

I was delighted to hear one of the Ugandan artisans, Florence, tell her story! She has such pride in what she is doing! Trades of Hope really benefits entire communities, not only the women. Check out her story below!
Here are a few of the beautiful products handmade in Uganda:
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Eden Wrap bracelet//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

Help Provide Clean Water to Families in India!

I’m so excited to be partnering with my new friend, Hannah, to help women from many countries! One of my dreams is to serve abroad. Current life commitments are such that it is not possible to do at this very moment. I was really excited to hear that I could host an online party which will empower women in poverty across the world. Not only that, but any purchases made this month will gift a month of clean water to a family in India!

kids in India
Courtesy of Hannah//Trades of Hope

Clean water has become one of our most precious resources in the 21st century. Statistics show that one in every nine people around the world live without access to clean and drinkable water. You can help change these statistics! When you shop Trades of Hope through here in the month of February, Trades of Hope will gift a month of clean water to a family in India! Can you imagine how different your day would have been without clean water? Families across the world live every day without clean water, which leads to sickness and can even lead to death!

The products you can purchase are beautiful: jewelry, scarves, bags, body products, and more! You’re gaining a beautiful, handmade, fair trade product while also helping struggling women throughout the world to support their families, as well as helping to bring clean water to an Indian family! That’s a win win, I’d say!

Now, let’s hear the story of one of the amazing artisans from India: Nayna!

“Nayna is a single mother doing her best to support her family of 4. Her recently deceased husband had left her some years ago for another woman. This left Nayna in a position where she did not know how she and her children would survive. Fortunately for Nayna, her parents invited her and their grandchildren back home.
Nayna’s son has now finished high school and is working in a store, while her daughter is studying in what is 10th grade. Nayna loves working with this group and appreciates how they value her by providing safe working conditions, regular wages and additional benefits. She has already begun making plans for her children’s weddings in the future, as weddings are a big and joyous celebration in India! She loves that she now has the ability to plan and save for these kinds of things. Nayna is excited that working with this group helps to ensure her children have a bright future.

Click here if you want to help!

Thanks for reading along as I journey to help my sisters across the world! I will be posting about 3 more countries in which Trades of Hope is making a difference! You just might be helping one of those countries by your purchase! Next up: Uganda!

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Courtesy of Hannah//Trades of Hope

The Power of Being Welcomed.

Recently I moved to a city that I knew very little about. It’s truly been a seamless transition, and I’ve actually forgotten that I’ve lived here for such a short time. What has made it such a seamless and easy transition, you ask? I have been welcomed with open arms.

One great source of welcome has been my new parish community. I’d heard a lot about this parish from other people in my age bracket. I went there and saw for myself how welcoming and kind the people were. At a recent event, a woman found out I was new to the parish and quickly made sure that I knew where she was sitting and that I was welcome to sit there, and introduced me to the people she was sitting with. On Donut Sundays, I know that can I sit at any table and find new friends. (By the way, I think every church should have an opportunity for fellowship after Mass or the Sunday service. Why is it not like this? That’s how community is built!)

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how this experience is bringing me closer to Christ. By experiencing His love through the kindness of others, I am coming to know in a greater way Who He is.

The chilling truth is that many people have left the Church because they didn’t feel welcomed. Any person who is new to a church should find smiling faces and people ready to talk to them and bring them into community. It is up to us, the Body of Christ, to witness to Christ’s love. When a person is welcomed to a church, they will begin to grasp in a greater way Who Christ is. They will be more open to learning about Him. We’re called to make disciples of every nation. Let’s start in our own churches!

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Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Mental Health Series Pt. VI: Food.

Did you know that the foods you eat can actually affect your mind? Yes, it’s true. Not only do the foods you eat affect you physically, but they also can affect your thinking and mental health. As I’ve posted about before, each facet of us is connected. The functioning of our body affects our mind, and vice versa. It’s so crucial to follow a diet with good nutrition.

Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function. These studies even found that symptoms of depression worsened on this high-sugar diet! Many parents can attest to the mood changes when their child ingests sugar or artificial food colorings. Even adults can attest to their mood changes or changes to their focus with certain foods (or larger amounts of certain foods). When a person’s brain isn’t getting the proper fuel, it can’t function. It is similar to filling a car with the wrong type of gasoline. The car won’t function correctly. It will eventually break down. It’s the same with your brain; the wrong types of fuel are going to cause things to go awry.

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Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Below is a list of foods that I’ve found in my research that can help your brain functioning, and so help your mental health:

1) Fish (fatty). Our brains are made up mostly of fat, which the body cannot create on its own. Our need for omega-3 fatty acids must be met in our diet. A few examples of fish that are good for this are: salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

2) Leafy greens. B vitamin deficiency has been discovered to have links with depression. These greens contain B vitamins and trace nutrients found in soil, which are lacking in the diets of many people.

3) Fermented foods. These foods can include kimchi, yogurt, pickled vegetables, and others. Your body needs “good” bacteria. These healthy bacteria have been found to reduce stress hormones, as well as anxiety!

4) Lean proteins. These can include chicken, eggs, beans, and, once again, fish. These foods can help keep serotonin (a hormone that helps you to feel happy) levels balanced.

Below is an intriguing video by a clinical psychologist, if you’d like to hear more about the link between mental health and nutrition.

This was the last post in the mental health series! I do hope that you found some useful tip(s) or thoughts in the posts. Please know that you are not alone and you are LOVED in whatever struggles you may be facing!

Past posts from the series:

Mental Health Series Pt. 1: Relationships

Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling

Mental Health Series Pt. III: Faith

Mental Health Series Pt. IV: Higher Education

Mental Health Series Pt. V: Finance

America, It’s Time to Choose Life.

America doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to choosing life. Such a powerful nation has abused its power and made evil choices which led to, and still leads to, the death of many.

This country was built on the backs of slaves who were torn from their countries and families, and still waited for over a century for basic civil rights after slavery was illegalized (though still continued in many forms). Natives of this country were horrifically forced from their lands and culture. These evil deeds still echo today in the consequences and injustices suffered by the descendants of the people in these groups. And 45 years ago today, the killing of unborn children was legalized in America. As I wrote last year, this has not only brought death to millions of children, but has brought about other types of death as well.

I have no deep thoughts to leave you. I can only wish that you and I will pray, fast, and do whatever we tangibly can to work toward a nation that chooses life for her children and descendants. We can fight for a culture of life, that respects and values every life. We can fight against the evils of racism and classism. We can do our part to impart hope and healing to mothers and fathers, and provide ample love, support, and resources for them as they make the courageous decision to bring a child into this world.

“A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”-St. John Paul II

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”-Deuteronomy 30:19

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Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash

Mental Health Series Pt. V: Finance.

(Note: I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am very much still figuring things out in this area. However, I’ll leave you with words from the Bible and some thoughts and ideas I’ve gleaned through sermons, readings, conversations…Please feel free to add your thoughts and what you’ve learned in the comments as well!)

Finances are a tremendous source of stress for people all over the world. In fact, I’m sure that if you were to survey people about their biggest sources of stress, finance would be in the top 3 for the majority of people. Finance equates in a big way with our ability to survive and achieve a certain quality of life. It even affects our relationships; one cause of marital discord and divorce is disagreement over finances. As with all aspects of our lives, the lenses with which we view finance is influenced by our faith.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” Matthew 6:25-33

Jesus tells us clearly that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. He will provide for us, and we are valuable to Him! We are to place our priorities on the Kingdom of God first. He also warns us that worrying is not productive. Worrying doesn’t take away our troubles or find a solution. Instead of worrying about your situation, pray for solutions!

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Did you know that Jesus was not talking about an actual sewing needle? He was talking about a narrow gate into Jerusalem, which was named “Eye of the Needle.” In order to get through this gate, all of the possessions that a camel was carrying needed to be unloaded. The camel could then get through, but would also need to hunch down and go through very carefully in order to fit. It seems then, that we must rid ourselves of attachment to material possessions. Wealth does not disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. It is what one does with the wealth that makes a difference. I believe that peace will come to our minds and hearts when we stop trying to keep up with others, and we realize that our greatest treasures are not to be found materially. When we learn to find joy in our relationships with God and other people, and find the beauty that surrounds us in our lives, we will be free from much stress.

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“Eye of the Needle Gate, Jerusalem”–Photo from Biblepicturegallery.com

However, we know that we cannot survive without food, shelter, and the other necessities of life. God provides, as we read in the passage from Matthew. Though God provides for us, we cannot simply sit idle and wait. We need to do our part. He has given us many gifts and talents to be used. In certain economies, jobs may not be available in the area you studied or have experience. Learning a new skill and finding a creative way to apply it can be a great way to increase your income. It can also be a good way to lessen your stress level and learn not to rely on one employer. (And sometimes, despite our efforts, God does provide in amazing ways without our expecting it!)

Many times, one’s workplace, boss, or coworkers can negatively affect their mental health. Finding a new job isn’t always feasible. In these cases, a counselor can be helpful in dealing with stress and areas of concern. Finding healthy ways to cope for as long as you are in that environment will be of benefit to you.

One last point: get rid of debt, and stay out. Debt can cause great stress. Depending on one’s level of debt, it can also take much money away from the other needs of life and cause you to be overworked. Dave Ramsey‘s books can be a good place to start in learning more about living debt-free and how to go about the process. Additionally, some loans will also allow you to pay based on income; look into this if you need to.

Takeaway points:

  • Pray for and actively work toward financial solutions. There are many aspects to this. Perhaps you could start with very small investments when you have a little extra money. You could also start carrying a business card and be prepared when networking connections come along. Learning new skills that can lead to more income is another aspect.
  • Curb worrying and turn to prayer instead. Train yourself to turn your worries to prayer.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with workplace stress. A counselor could help you with this. These articles also have some good ideas. Sometimes an environment is toxic, and you will need to find a healthier workplace situation for your mental health.
  • Free yourself from debt, and don’t let yourself get into debt again. When you think about it, debt is actually a form of slavery! Too many people are in debt beyond their means, causing great distress.
  • Learn to find your greatest treasure in God, relationships, and the simple beauties of life.
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Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash

Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)

Past posts from the series:

Mental Health Series Pt. 1: Relationships

Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling

Mental Health Series Pt. III: Faith

Mental Health Series Pt. IV: Higher Education

Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.