Refuse to do nothing: Finding your power to abolish modern slavery

Chelsea Hudson, a passionate ONEMom and active abolitionist, speaks on our responsibility to protect women around the world from the terrors and indignities of slavery. Below, she interviews the Refuse to Do Nothing authors Shayne Moore and Kimberly Yim, speaking to them about their shared fight for human rights.

Refuse to Do Nothing is the book that was written for me two years ago. Well, not really. But it could have been. It was certainly the book that would have helped me tremendously as I wrestled with my own crises of moving from awareness to action. And now it is the book I carry around and give to any woman I meet who has that same look of pain/empathy/sadness/anger/zeal when it comes to the issue of modern slavery.

Refuse to Do Nothing1Kimberly McOwen Yim and Shayne Moore are the co-authors of the book Refuse To Do Nothing. Photo credit: doalittlegood.com 

I reached out to the co-author of the book, Kimberly McOwen Yim, early last year when I stumbled on her blog, Abolitionist Mama (via Shayne Moore’s blog). It was past midnight and I literally jumped out of my chair as I read pieces of her journey and story. Up until that moment, I literally felt like the only person in the world wrestling with the question, “Is there a place for a mom like me to really make a difference in this battle?!” Kim was me three years ago, wrestling with the same thoughts, doubts, fears and yet determined to find a way into these issues, AS a mom. I think I wrote her the world’s longest Facebook message ever recorded that night. She wrote back and has since become a friend, justice journey-mate and continued inspiration for me. Thankfully, I had the privilege of meeting Kim at The Justice Conference in Philadelphia. It was truly the highlight of the weekend to meet this kindred spirit in person after months and months of correspondence.

Kim, why did you want to write this book? And who exactly is the book for?

I wanted to write this book because I wanted more “ordinary” men and women to not only understand that slavery still exists and to have a bit of knowledge of the different kinds of slavery existing in our world today – but that a response from each person is essential in eradicating it.

abolition1Kimberly McOwen Yim, co-author of Refuse to do Nothing. Photo credit: abolitionistmama.blogspot.com

Shayne, what inspired you to join in with Kim on the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking? How does this fit with your previous work with the ONE campaign and others over the years?

I first woke up to the realities of extreme poverty and preventable disease in 2003 when Bono came through my hometown on his Heart of America tour. This was the beginning of a large number or ordinary Americans getting mobilized and involved — and even before ONE existed. A year after this tour, The ONE Campaign was formed and I joined immediately. ONE was instrumental in “waking me up” out of my suburbia stupor. By adding my voice to ONE, I realized I had influence and I really could make a difference in the lives of women and families, just like my own, on other parts of the world suffering. I am a full-time mom. ONE gave me a platform and an opportunity to influence law makers and world leaders from my kitchen.

shaynemoore2Shayne Moore, working with ONE to eradicate extreme poverty through education. Photo credit: www.shaynemoore.com

I began educating myself and educating others and eventually I even wrote a book called Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World Is Easier Than You Think. This book tells my story of waking up, the history of ONE, and educates and demonstrates how everyday women and moms can change the world. My friend from college, Kimberly, read the book and reached out to me. Kim started to educate me about an issue that was breaking her heart — modern day slavery.

I learned that extreme poverty and the exploitation that inevitably surrounds poverty often leads to exploited men, women and children being enslaved. Held against their will for the promise of a job, money or food. This broke my heart. My mother’s heart. 27 million people are in slavery today and 80% of them are women and children.

I found this unacceptable and I could not do nothing. So one day I called Kim and said, “We need to write a book.” That book became Refuse To Do Nothing.

momblog3Co-authors of the book and “journey mates” in their fight against modern-day slavery. Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson

Kim, I found the correlation between the abolitionist women networks of Lincoln’s day and the new abolitionist women networks of our day fascinating and inspiring. What woman from the past has most influenced your abolitionist journey and why?

The Grimke sisters, particularly Angelina’s plea to other Southern women where she pointed out that although they did have certain social limitations – such as “no legislative power” they did have other powers at their disposal and they needed to use them. She spoke to the power they had to educate themselves on the issue, to pray for those enslaved and exploited, to share with others what they were learning, and to act by boycotting slave-made goods,letter writing, and a variety of efforts to raise funds for the abolitionist movement. Sound familiar?

Shayne, you obviously believe, and have proven to us, that women and mothers specifically can and do have a place in fighting against the human rights issues of our day. What is it that a mother uniquely brings to the table in this fight?

80 percent of those held in slavery, victims of sex trafficking and labor, such as the cocoa plantations in The Ivory Coast, are women and children. As a mother, this reality makes me viscerally sick. I have a daughter in eighth grade. A smiling, full-of-life young woman who wants to spend time with friends, have an education and a future. The exact same things that every girl wants across the globe. And every mother wants for her children.

People do not sell themselves or their children into labor or sex slavery if they have food, income, education, clean water and health care. Poverty, is the underlying root of modern-day slavery. And greed. I believe women are uniquely effective in the fight against these things because women control the cultures and economies of our own homes. I believe women who have plenty must join their voices together to raise awareness, make change, put pressure on world leaders and law makers that poverty and slavery must end.

As an ordinary mom I may not be able to go to a rural community in Africa and save children from being trafficked into The Ivory Coast to harvest cocoa. But I can put pressure on the companies who turn a blind eye to this, the chocolate companies where we buy our chocolate. I can let my Congressmen and Congress women know that I care deeply about these things , I care deeply about important legislation like the TVPRA, and I vote and buy accordingly.

Women have untapped influence and power that needs to be unleashed.

momblog1Chelsea working actively with Kim and other women at The Justice Conference. Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson

Kim, what is it that moms, like you and Shayne and most of us reading this, have to overcome to find our power and place to fight against modern slavery?

I think we have to overcome a couple of things. We have to overcome the idea that the problem is “over there”.  The reality is the problem is both over there and here – in our backyards. I think we also have to overcome the idea that we are already overwhelmed with the needs of our own family. We start believing we are SO busy and there are SO many demands on us already that we think of this as another demand on us. When we step back, understand the problem a bit, gain a bit of perspective, and begin to see that there are small little actions that we can incorporate into our daily lives that actually can have tremendous impact then it seems more than doable – it seems natural. We can only start where we are – acknowledging whatever life stage we are in and thinking and discussing some changes that can be made. Maybe it is simply starting with deciding to only buy Fair Trade coffee. Or maybe it is calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline number  (888-3737-888) and sharing a concern you have in your own community – something that doesn’t seem quite right. Or it maybe going to a screening of a documentary on the subject that a friend invited you to. Or maybe it is giving money to an organization who is caring for men and women who have just been rescued. Look at where you are and start there.

Finally, have either of you had a chance to get some testimonies or feedback from readers of Refuse To Do Nothing? Can you share one or two that have really touched you and confirmed the need for the book you created?

Kim:I can think of two specific cases of women who have expressed gratitude for the book.  The first was a young mom, Missy, who I met at The Justice Conference.  She has two very young kids and came up and thanked me and hugged me.  Her heart just recently broke over the realities of modern-day slavery and she was simply overwhelmed thinking there wasn’t much she could do.  The Justice Conference was the first thing she did hoping she would find an answer.  She was so encouraged by our book, our story, that she came up later in the weekend and asked me to not only sign her book but find a part in the book where I thought might specifically speak to her and to underline it.  She was so encouraged by our message, but I was so encouraged by her – she was already miles ahead of the game – attending a conference, a heart open to learn, and already in conversation with her husband and what THEY were going to do together.

The second testimony that encouraged me was Lorraine’s.  Lorraine is 80 years old and is a friend from church.  She had just begun to read our book and called me to ask if she could buy 7 more copies as she wanted to give them as gifts to the women in her Bunco group.  She said,”Kim, I have not been this inspired and called to action since I was a young mom and active in my locally community fighting the problem of drugs in the early 70s.”  She had five children and worked tirelessly within her local community trying to draw attention to the growing drug problem.  She said, “Although I am 80 years old, I began to see that there is something I can do about this problem.  And there is something my Bunco friends can do as well.”  It was one of the most encouraging conversations I have had.  A wonderful surprise confirmation of the message of our book. 

momblog2Kim-and Shayne’s placeholder-engaging the world on the issue of modern slavery. Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson

Thank you Shayne and Kim, not only for the gift of this book, but for the example of living it out in real life. Refuse To Do Nothing is such a fantastic resource for anyone who is striving to find their place and wondering where in the world to start engaging the issue of modern slavery. It provides a manageable and organized roadmap to help one get from learning about the atrocity of human slavery to knowing what first step they can take towards action and engagement within the context of their own life stage.

See Chelsea HudsonKimberly McOwen Yim, and  Shayne Moore‘s websites here!

Chelsea Hudson is a mother of three girls, wedding and portrait photographer and passionate abolitionist. Chelsea’s journey into activism began 3+ years ago as her eyes, mind and heart were opened to the atrocity of human trafficking, both domestically and abroad. T Chelsea joined ONEmoms in 2012.

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