24 August 2010

One Boy’s Journey to Hope

Below, the story of this young man and who he becomes, is living proof that fate has little to do with where you're from or what's happened to you. It's the story of a Haitian restavek who was given a chance at life.

Today, Baby Auguste is 15 years old and only in the second grade. Until a few years ago, his days consisted of trying to find food for him and his family to eat, rather than learning how to spell and write his name.

When Baby Auguste was much younger, his father occasionally crossed the border to the neighboring Dominican Republic to buy fighting roosters. Usually he left for just a few days and would return to sell the fighting roosters in Haiti. One day, his father left and never came back.

At that time, Baby had only been in school for a year – but his father’s disappearance meant an end to his formal education. Not only could his family not afford the tuition, they would go on for days without any food in the house. Young Baby Auguste had to do what he could to find something to put in his aching belly.

For years, he spent his days roaming the streets of the mountainside slum where they lived or the neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. Baby Auguste would wash car windows on the city’s main throughways, begging for a mere few Haitian Gourds. For 10 Gourds, he could buy a cup of coffee or some crackers.

"I liked to walk,” he recalls. "I couldn’t bear to stay idle in the one-room shack with nothing to eat. So I would walk all day in the streets.”

One day, in a street market, a social worker came to him and told him about Timkatec, a PADF-supported center for at-risk youth. At Timkatec, street kids could find shelter, eat three meals a day and go to school. Shy at first, Baby reluctantly came to visit the center. He has now been living there for three years.

The center encourages the children to see their families, and Baby Auguste occasionally sees his mother and often visits with his older sister.

"If I never had found this place, I really don’t know what I would have become,” he says. "My life was without any direction and meaning. I might have really turned bad.”

Baby Auguste now has aspirations, thanks to living in the PADF-supported shelter. He wants to become a clothing designer. His true dream is to become a "great artist” and have a career as a singer.

Read and share more stories of Haiti's restaveks.

16 August 2010

Operation Abandoned Hope

In the Spring of 2010 a 15-year runaway fled her traffickers to phone her mother for help. Police say she was held captive, supplied drugs and sexually exploited by an unknown number of men.

A unique thing about this case starts with the men charged. Six men are in police custody in Jacksonville, Florida for their direct or indirect involvement in the girl's abuse. But these six men weren't just the girl's sellers. Surprisingly (and just as important), the girl's buyers are also being charged for crimes carrying 10 years to life in prison.

Since the girl's rescue, she has started some well needed therapy. What also started in response to her rescue was Operation Abandoned Hope - a joint effort from the FBI and the Jacksonville Sheriff's office targeting child prostitution.

The result: six indictments were issued against six individuals.

This video clip is a news conference giving names and photos of the accused, ending with a question and answer session.

12 August 2010

COP Caught Trying to Meet 13 Year Old for Sex!

What happens to men like this? Not after they're arrested, but before they decide to enter a chat room. What makes a man want to "hook up" with a 13-year old girl? And what's it going to take to keep America's daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and cousins safe?

11 August 2010

"You seem really mature for your age"

42-year old, Christine Hubbs is known as the attractive wife of a successful dentist. She is a California wife and mother of three who was once the center of a picture perfect family. After 20 years of marriage Christine Hubbs is accused of having sex with two boys in 2008, when they were both 13 years old. She is now arraigned on 67 counts of felony sexual assault.

The interesting topic of sex and how today's teens and tweens plan to approach it, isn't nearly as important as the decisions 30, 40 and 50 somethings are obligated to make when dealing with their unresolved sexual secrets and the baggage that comes with them. It's impossible for our society to confront one issue without confronting the other.

10 August 2010

Craig Newmark silent, but popular opinion loud and clear

In a surprise visit from CNN's Special Investigations Unit, Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark was at a loss for words when questioned about exactly what his company was doing to prevent the advertisement of child prostitution on his site. But after this CNN video (below), on Craigslist sex ads, the popular opinion of the watchers and readers were loud and clear.

The reporter's plea for accountability from Craig Newmark's website went unanswered. But with almost 600 written responses to the article, readers made their feelings loud and clear about the fight to end prostitution and also, child prostitution.

Popular opinion says two things:

09 August 2010

New York writer allegedly labor trafficks women from Europe

New York writer, Joseph Yannai, has plead not guilty in allegedly scheming to lure young women to the country into forced labor.

66-year-old Joseph Yannai (YAH'-nay) of Pound Ridge entered his plea in Brooklyn in federal court on Thursday. He'll remain in jail pending an Aug. 9 bail hearing.

Yannai is known for writting a reference guide to the world's top chefs called "The International Who's Who of Chefs 2004-2005."

Federal prosecutors allege he used au pair websites to try convince his victims that he was in the publishing business and looking for a woman to prepare meals and accompany him and his wife on trips as a personal assistant.

He is also facing similar state charges, including labor trafficking and sexual abuse of women from Hungary, France and Brazil. Yannai faces life in prison and the lose of his home.

06 August 2010

Kutcher says, "tweet @craignewmark with solutions"

WENN.Com-The Killers star set up The Demi and Ashton (DNA) Foundation with his wife Demi Moore to raise awareness about the harrowing subject and to provide support to survivors of abuse.

Kutcher is concerned about how some sex traffickers have been using Craigslist.com to solicit business online - and he's helping the website's founder, Craig Newmark, come up with ways to weed out the offenders and ban them from using the listings service for good.

In a post on his Twitter page on Wednesday (04Aug10), he writes to fans, "Do U have ideas how 2 help Craigslist fight human trafficking? pls (please) send all responses to @craignewmark."

05 August 2010

Xclaim, Xpresses human trafficking

Xclaim, a "Contemporary Jazz Dance Ensamble", started out as Mariah Layne's vision to use the art of dance to change the world. From August 6-8, ten dancers will perform choreographed pieces to raise awareness for human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

"We don’t want to be restaveks"

The New York Times did a story in 2008 on the poorest of the poor in Haiti. They are called restaveks. Restaffs are Haitian children forced into domestic labor without pay or, sometimes, decent living conditions. I chose to share this story, and (in the future) others like it because I think it's a timeless photograph into a person's life.

After a natural disaster, it's easily for me to forget about the destitute situation that dirt poor Haitians, and others, have to live out everyday. I hope this serves as a reminder to us all that people from all walks of life are the same. And if our circumstances afford us the opportunity to give some of what we have to those less fortunate, then we should do just that.

04 August 2010

"I thought fair trade meant cheaper?"

In 2007, this ethical designer carrying bag was priced at £5 ($7) in Sainsbury's supermarkets. Advertised as a replacement for plastic grocery bags, it's also fair trade and organically made with unbleached cotton, with profits going to an environmental group.

03 August 2010

Fair, Honest, Positive, Creative, PUMA

PUMA. The brand that attracts the world's most talented and unique, isn't a brand at all. What PUMA decided to create has little do with shoes or footballs. Its initiatives in Sportlifestyle all stem from one essential, positive outcomes for all parties includes. As a byproduct, PUMA's culture has established itself as more than a brand. It's a lifestyle. It's a movement.

02 August 2010

Working hard is one thing, slavery is another

NPR--What seemed like a promising deal lured the East African woman to Seattle-into a bad situation. But for this woman, her story ends well. Which unfortunately is rare.