IN IT TO END IT
Last week, we galvanized individuals to care about something that's at the core of who we are as an organization. Then we asked you to act . You read our stories, you gave, and hearts broke - and for that we thank you. We thank you for your bravery in engaging with this battle, for allowing yourself to experience the sadness, and to let it affect you in a way that produces change.
Last Friday was Shine A Light on Human Slavery Day when hundreds of thousands gathered to make the world aware that human slavery still exists, that something MUST be done, that a red ‘X’ on our hands was a way to provoke questions and to educate in the ways we can. While awareness is the first step, and therefore critically important, the reality is it is not the end. It is the beginning. We have just begun.
We ask that you continue to educate yourself. Educate yourself on the signs of trafficking, and its prevalence in America as well as around the world. Polarisproject.org is a great resource for facts about trafficking, and they have the same heart we do - to see human slavery end for good. When we're educated, we can be effective advocates for freedom worldwide.
Be an ethical consumer. Become aware of the countries producing the items you purchase. Spend time making yourself aware of their production processes, the work environment, and the level of care placed on the well being of these employees. If you’re unsure – ask for the answers and challenge the companies. At Landmine Design, we’re ecstatic for the opportunity to share the ways in which our products are produced. Ask for the answers, support the worthy, and let’s end slavery through modern consumerism.
Be vocal about your new level of education concerning slavery and unethical production processes. Shining a light on human slavery should never be confined to one day a year, let’s allow it to be a lifestyle in which we’re vowing to step into. Let's vow to be vocal advocates - demanding answers and action daily.
And let us pray, pray for the end. Let us pray for the end of the ways in which lives are ruined, and vulnerable people are stripped of their rights. Let us pray for the end of inhumane practices, and the destruction of the evil that is human slavery.
Thank you for reading, for allowing your heart to break, for walking with us, for hearing our stories – and most of all, thank you for being aware. This is only the beginning of a long journey fighting, but we're fighting together.
We're in it to end it.
47 % of trafficked persons returning from Thailand have stated that their mother was the facilitator of their trafficking.
Imagine yourself as a Cambodian woman. You survived a genocide that eliminated four million people, and forced the rest into extreme poverty. Because there was nowhere else for you to go, you live on a minefield.
You’re a Cambodian woman surviving on a minefield. You have to walk nearly a mile each day to gather two buckets of dirty water. Water you share with livestock. You live in a grass hut. One of the most prevalent protein sources is rat - which are free if you can catch them. Free is good, because money is scarce, and there are no jobs to be found.
You’re a Cambodian mother living on a minefield. You have two young boys, and one of them has a blood disease. You also have a baby girl, and a beautiful teenage daughter. The survival and health of your children is all you think about, but you’re powerless to improve their quality of life. How will my family have enough to eat today? Where am I going to get money for another hospital visit? How will I ever pay off my debt?
You cry every day because doctors have told you that your son’s condition is too fragile for surgery; but without surgery, he won’t survive. You are desperate and you are without options.
The woman I had you imagine is Som Kim before employment with LandMine Design. Som Kim was one of our original hires in the LandMine Design program. She still talks about those dark days of not being able to feed her family with tears in her eyes, and a special anguish in her voice.
Som Kim now earns an income, she can feed her children, she even saved up enough money to open a noodle shop out of her home. She has a light in her eyes that was clouded with pain just a few short years ago. Som Kim is a success story, and a testament to the effectiveness of the program.
Then, a couple of months ago I heard the news: Som Kim was thinking of sending her daughter to Thailand for work. A ‘recruiter’ had visited her village and talked with Som Kim about ‘helping’ her daughter with a job in Thailand. I was chilled to the bone by those words, and what the implication was for that teenage girl. What was she thinking?? Doesn’t she know the dangers? Could this loving woman actually be selling her daughter to the most evil industry in the world?
Situations EXACTLY like this are how many girls and boys are enslaved. A promise of money to a family that is uneducated and in need. It’s so insidious, it’s hard to believe. It boils down to these destructive components:
Lack of Education - These families don’t know they’re being lied to. They don’t know they’re being taken advantage of in the worst way. Som Kim had no idea that slavery could be her daughter’s fate. The traffickers know that a lack of education is to their benefit, and so they prey upon the vulnerable.
Desperation - This one is tough to swallow. Poverty in so many ways equals desperation. It’s a desperation and hopelessness than most of us haven’t the slightest idea how to comprehend. As unbelievable as it seems, some families sell their children into slavery because they don’t feel as though they have any other options.
Thankfully we were able to get to Som Kim before she made a terrible mistake. The prevention of situations just like that one is what we’re about. Each life saved is a victory. Each woman hired is another women pulled out of desperation, and lifted into a life of hope.
So, we’re asking you to give.
Every dollar goes directly towards hiring another woman, and preventing that woman and her family from ever having to experience the unspeakable horrors of human trafficking.
Let’s end it together.
- Sarah Addy
THE YOUNG ONES
Srey Mom is strikingly beautiful. Just look at her. The smile, the dimples, the hair — strikingly beautiful. Srey Mom is part of our LandMine Design program and is 16 years old.
Som Poa's eyes have a magnetic pull in which you can get lost. Just look at her. The eyes beckon with a depth of richness. Som Poa is a part of our LandMine Design program and is 15 years old.
Volek has a gentleness and beauty that flows from her soul. Just look at her. Quiet by nature, her gentleness draws you to look closer and see a beauty that is not merely skin deep. Volek is a part of our LandMine Design program and is 17 years old.
Each time we’re in the village, I’m so thankful to see all of the women in our program. But, I’m especially thankful to see these teenagers because they are prime targets for ‘recruiters’ looking to expand their work force in sex trafficking. You see, it is beauties like Srey Mom, Som Poa, and Volek that we work to protect. It’s these beauties that we feverishly try to prevent from ever facing the horrors of sex trafficking.
This week, we’re seeking to shine a light on the dark side of our work. Reality is, there’s a horrific dark side that we battle each and every day in LandMine Design. We’re asking you to join us in this battle. Would you donate TODAY to help these beautiful young girls, and the young girls who are waiting and hoping for a future without horror. They are worth it!
Prevention is cure.
- Karla Tillapaugh
For some Cambodian women, prostitution, begging, or starvation are their only options.
Give now so young girls at this border have options of hope through prevention.
Prevention is cure.
I wish that I could talk to her, but I can’t.
I wish that I could know what she’s thinking, but she can’t tell me.
I wish that I could guarantee her protection, but I’m not sure how.
Three wishes. These are three wishes that come to my mind every time I interact with Vurn. She lives on a former MineField in Cambodia and we’ve shared bits of her story before. A mother of four, wife of a husband who is crippled, Vurn was desperate for help. And if disparity wasn’t enough, she was terribly vulnerable.
I wonder what it was like for Vurn when she said goodbye to her little ones to walk across the border, willing to endure abuse, hoping she would return….but never having that certainty? She didn’t have the luxury of wondering why life was this hard or why she had to endure such suffering. She had to feed her children. She had to stay focused. She had no other option.
Poverty is the most significant cause of sex trafficking in Cambodia. Vurn didn’t know those mornings she would leave her family for months at a time to work in a different country, that she risked becoming one of the 27 million enslaved people on the earth today. Or did she? And even if she did….what choice did she have but to cross one of the most heavily trafficked borders in the world because if she didn’t, her children wouldn’t eat? No one in the world should have to make those choices.
We had to do something. Those three wishes that seemed impossible to change, to prevent me from making a difference began to change…
I wish that I could talk to her, so I’ll keep trying.
I wish I could know what she’s thinking, so I’ll keep asking her.
I wish that I could guarantee her protection, so I’ll get up and do something.
Vurn entered the LandMine Design Program, a cure to the problem of human trafficking through prevention, over two years ago. Today she earns a consistent income from the safety of her own home. Because of this income, she's able to feed her family and she’s full of joy.
Ever wish you could make a difference?
The reality of donating to LandMine Design gives us the opportunity to employ more women like Vurn, to educate her, and hopefully keep her from the dangers of human trafficking. One woman at a time. One story at a time. Together we begin to affect change in a community, regions, a nation and the world. Simultaneously, the number 27million becomes less and less…
- Amreitha Jeevamanoharan
Donate today. Prevention is cure.
We wish you the best in taking a stand with us to end human trafficking.
Young girls from the village in which we work are pictured here walking to school. Phun, who gives the camera a wave before returning to class, is just 15 years old and someday dreams of working for LandMine Design.
In Cambodia, the age of consent is 15 years old. This fact is often used in the defense of individual men found to be having sex with teenagers. It is a fact used against the innocence of a child, in support of a perpetrator abusing not just a system but a human life.
For Phun, and the innocence of young women everywhere, we need to end it. We need to move forward in a direction that respects the heart and future of a special young girl like Phun, who when educated and sheltered from the reality of slavery surrounding her, may possess hope for a dignified future.
We challenge those of you disagreeing with the way in which women and children are sexually used, the way in which their trust of humanity is shattered to step forward and donate $15 this evening in defense of a 15 year old child. To stand with us against slavery.
Let's end it.
What is heartache?
A dictionary would tell you it’s emotional anguish or grief, typically caused by the loss or absence of someone loved.
LandMine Design will share, it is the loss of a beautiful, young hire formerly within the safety of our program who is currently missing.
Her name is Srey Pich. She is just 17 years old and stunning; she has the kind of smile that makes everything in the world seem okay. She would arrive to work each day in red lipstick and her best clothes. I always secretly wondered if she was trying to impress me, trying to identify with my known love of fashion. And I always loved that about her. We were so close; she always sat so near to me as I gave lessons, stroking the patterns on my dresses, looking at each painted fingernail, constantly showing physical affection, constantly displaying a deep desire to be loved, to be near to someone who would willingly love her back.
And today, she is missing. And the dictionary is right. It is anguish and grief. Her absence is our misery; her absence is our shattered heart.
And these are the dark sides of our story. The sides we perhaps try to hide, try to shelter from the goodness of those of you supporting this mission of prevention. Try to hide as to not fault ourselves, as to not stay awake at night repeatedly asking the questions of: What could we have done, why weren’t we there to stop her…?
I wish I could tie this story in a pretty bow for you. I wish I could finish with a happy ending sharing of her location, her return to our program, and her restoration. I wish I could even share with you where she is, if she is safe, or if I had any information of the nature in which she exited the village.
But I simply cannot, I cannot give you those answers.
And this is the reality of human slavery. This is the reality of working in the field of trafficking prevention. You fall asleep at night with questions; yet somehow you wake up each day finding the strength to continue fighting. You let the questions turn to fuel. You let the former friendships pour into the friendship of another woman who is just one step away from vanishing, just like our dear Srey Pich.
I share these words as to encourage an understanding over ignorance. Let us not be naive citizens of this world, but fighters – operating from our hearts for our fellow, deserving loved ones who are imprisoned.
27 million people are currently enslaved. It is my prayer each night that Srey Pich is not one of them, but I cannot tell you that.
I miss her, so for her I ask of you - let's keep moving forward, Dear Fighters.
With hope, Kristie Dunnigan
Allow the mind to fathom such a number for just a moment; allow it to bear weight. Now, come to realize these are human lives currently enslaved.
February 27th is Shine A Light On Slavery Day, where a coalition of fighters are joining together to galvanize the masses in efforts of bringing awareness and action to the reality of modern day slavery. We’re proudly coming alongside this movement, to share what’s already been done, and to invite you to join us in simply doing more. In the coming days become educated, become involved, give, and on that final day mark your hand with a red X in saying, enough is enough.
LandMine Design employs women living on top of a former minefield along the Cambodia-Thailand border, one of the most human trafficked borders on the globe. From 1975 to 1979 Cambodia underwent an unfathomable genocide and today, over half the population is under the age of 25. Unfortunately, its young demographic welcomes danger and inhumane exploitation.
Lack of employment, education and cross-migration continue to be the largest factors contributing to the corrupt industry of human trafficking. With Cambodia’s great struggle to provide dignified work, cross-migration amongst its young population is further perpetuated heightening all danger.
With no education options are limited. Innocence is stripped. Vulnerability is leveraged. Slavery is dressed in a costume labeled opportunity.
We are daily reminded:
Prevention is better than cure.
Through education and employment, LandMine Design is directly eliminating contributing factors to corruption and actively intervening in a system and cycle overlooking the dignity of human life.
And this week, we’re sharing the never-before-heard stories behind LandMine Design, and we’re asking for your help. We’re asking that you take action in giving what you can because the reality is: there are many girls left to employ before someone gets to them first.