Peace Love Stop 5K, 10K, and 1 mile run.

12509454_845207222265028_5733568552081062404_nJoin the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking on April 22nd for our 2nd Annual Peace Love Stop 5K/10K run!

The Peace Love Stop 5k/10K and 1 mile run will take place at St. Pete Beach, FL. The event will be held at 7:30am on April 22nd, 2017.

Face painting by paint Me Happy Entertainment.

Live music by Razin Jane.

Proceeds for the event benefit The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Our goal is to bring awareness to human trafficking.

To register please visit Peacelovestop.com

 

 

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Happy St. Patty’s Day! A Day to celebrate Freedom!

by Maranda Vilsack

As St. Patrick’s Day nears America is preparing to meet with friends and drink green beer while wearing the traditional “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” t-shirts in celebration of… what exactly? Are we celebrating being Irish or the triumph of one army over another? Maybe it has something to do with Leprechauns or shamrocks?

Incorrect. Okay, so not many know what St. Patrick’s Day is actually about. This is not surprising since the meaning behind a holiday is often warped into something unrecognizable over the centuries. St. Patrick’s Day is actually a celebration of when Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland in and was declared an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. March 17th is the traditionally recognized death day of the actual Saint Patrick.

St. Patrick’s Day has only been present in America since the late 18th century.

What many are unaware of is that Saint Patrick was not born an Irishman and that his name wasn’t even Patrick. Patrick is the English version of his actual name, Patricius. He was actually born in the early 5th century in Roman Britain, which was later known as Great Britain. At the age of 16 Patricius, along with thousands of his fellow Britains, were kidnapped by Irish pirates during raids on the west coast of Roman Britain and taken to Ireland as slaves. Patricius was able to escape and return home after 6 years of servitude and later returned to Ireland on a mission to convert those in power to Christianity and possibly to halt the raids of the Irish pirates that had taken him years before.

In one of the few surviving writings by Patricius, in his “Letter to Coroticus,” he expressed a deep concern for the victims of slaving; especially women captured for sexual exploitation.

Perhaps this was due to his own personal experiences as a slave and his most likely witnessing the horrors that can bestow a person taken into human slavery.

But Particius’ story is not only one of Christian missionary work, although that is the basis of the holiday. No, his story is one of survival and perseverance. Patricius spent years in slavery and somehow found his way out and eventually became the patron saint of an entire country. His belief that slavery was immoral was something that pushed him to return to the country he had once fled in order to work for the freedom of those still forced into servitude.

So this St. Patrick’s Day don’t just celebrate Irish heritage, celebrate a man who fought for the freedom of others.

Be Fair with your gifts!

by Maranda Vilsack

This past Thursday, February the 9th, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking held a presentation at the Church of the Holy Spirit’s Parish Hall in Safety Harbor. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the presentation was centered around how a conscious consumer has the power to effect the prevalence of exploitation around the world through the products they purchase.

Valentine’s Day is always a popular gift-giving occasion, and this year American consumers are expected to spend about $18.2 billion dollars, according to the National Retail Federation. (https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/nrf-says-consumers-will-spend-182-billion-valentines-day) While U.S. consumers spend their hard earned money on gifts for their loved ones every year we rarely consider where those gifts come from. For a better understanding of how these products are produced we can look to the United States Department of Labor’s ‘List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor,’ released September 30, 2016. (https://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/)

Think of it this way-

You want to buy your sweetheart a diamond necklace:

A comparison of the D.O.L.’s list and the Diamond Producers Association’s most recent statistics, ‘World Diamond Production by Volume and Value 2015,’ of the 10 countries that produce the most diamonds, half of the countries produced these diamonds through the use of child labor and forced labor practices, (Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.) The Central African Republic also uses child labor and forced labor in the production of their diamonds.

(http://www.diamondproducers.com/diamond-industry/productionstats)

You pick up a bouquet of roses or other flowers:

According to worldexports.com, many of the cut flower stems, bouquets, and bulbs that are purchased in the U.S. are actually grown in other countries. Two of the major producers use exploitive production practices. China, which is known for artificial flowers, uses forced labor. Ecuador, which is known for a large variety of flowers, including long-stemmed roses, uses child labor. Other countries on the D.O.L.’s list were Afghanistan (Poppies and other flowers, child labor) and Burma (Sunflowers, forced labor).

(http://www.worldstopexports.com/flower-bouquet-exports-country/)

A heart-shaped box of chocolates:

The cocoa needed to produce the sweets is exotic. Five of the six countries listed by the Department of Labor as using child labor and forced labor in the production of cocoa are also on worldatlas.com’s list of Top Cocoa Producing Countries in the World. These countries are Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the number one producer of cocoa, Cote d’Ivoire. Guinea also made the D.O.L.’s list.

People do care where the items they buy are coming from and how they are being made; the information just isn’t readily available.

Free Trade USA is endeavoring to change that by auditing and certifying transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers. Their certification label on the product packaging guarantees that farmers and workers producing the goods are paid fair wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and do not use forced labor or child labor.

During the presentation Giselle Rodriguez, State Outreach Coordinator for FCAHT, was able to answer questions from the community about Fair Trade USA and how they are helping to reduce global exploitation in the name of cheap labor, human trafficking in the U.S., and how consumers can make a change in the world simply by being conscious of where the products they buy are coming from.

In her words: “It all starts with awareness.”