National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition defines Human Trafficking as the recruitment, transport, sale, or receipt of persons within or across national borders through force, fraud, or coercion to place the persons in slavery or slavery-like work conditions. Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in horrific situations. https://patcoalition.org/

In short, it is slave trading and is a horrific crime and violation of human rights where a person is exploited into slave labor or sexual exploitation. It is also considered a hidden crime because victims frequently do not seek help due to language barriers, fear of their traffickers, or fear of law enforcement.

Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” NO ONE, not one person. One person is too many.

“A common misconception about human trafficking is that it does not happen in the United States. This is false, as the United States is ranked as one of the worst countries globally for human trafficking. It is estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the United States every year.” https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/human-trafficking-statistics-by-state

One of the most descriptive, true stories I’ve found on the topic of sex trafficking is a book titled “I Am not Your Slave” by Chris Lockhart and Tupa Tjipombo. Tupa Tjipombo is the pseudonym of a Nambian woman from South Africa who was trafficked by an evil network across the continent of Africa up to the United Arab Emirates into the hands of a “collector”.

Tjipombo thought that putting the descriptive truth out for people to read would be much more impactful towards eliminating this horrific crime than just a statistic on a page. In my opinion, she was correct. Her story was very difficult to confront and believe that this type of evil exists in our world today. It definitely inspires a person into action! Her perpetrators included individuals from various countries including the United States of America where slavery was “abolished” in 1865. You can find a full interview with Lockhart and Tjipombo here: https://www.thefirestone.org/2020/07/20/we-touch-the-world-and-the-world-touches-us/

Another form of human trafficking is labor trafficking and debt bondage. Harold D’Souza, founder of Eyes Open International, has dedicated his life to ending this modern-day slavery because he knows how much the victims suffer–he once was one.

Originally from India, D’Souza is well-educated and experienced in sales management. He has a Bachelor’s in Business and a Master of Commerce from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Harold stepped down from a senior management position in order to pursue the American Dream which he believed was within his reach. Harold came to the U.S. following the advice and encouragement of a man who would soon after becoming his trafficker. For over 18 months, Harold was exploited and tortured at the hands of the human trafficker, losing his freedom and struggling to keep his family safe.

D’Souza is an example of turning obstacles into opportunities. United States President Barack Obama appointed him to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in 2015 and he continued his service under President Trump through July 2020. D’Souza is also an expert consultant to the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. To listen to more of his story, click here: https://www.thefirestone.org/the-podcasts/  scroll to Episode 13.

There is currently a Bollywood Blockbuster Film being made on D’Souza’s slavery nightmare. Actor Martin Sheen is the Executive Producer of the documentary titled “To Be Free” which is produced and directed by Benjamin Ryan Nathan.

Tjipombo and D’Souza are true Human Rights Heroes! Their strength, courage, fight for freedom and pure greatness are an inspiration for all human beings. Let’s join together with these heroes and put an END to the atrocity of modern-day slavery.

 

What can you do about it?

 If you suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking in the US, call the National Hotline immediately: 1-888-373-7888.

Another action you can take is to visit the US Department of State’s website for 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking. https://www.state.gov/20-ways-you-can-help-fight-human-trafficking/

For information on how to educate others on this and all their 30 human rights along with suggestions for taking action, click here: https://www.humanrights.com/take-action/get-active.html

Strengthening Respect for Human Rights

Strengthening Respect for Human Rights

 

When the United Nations’ General Assembly first adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, they called upon all member countries “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded¹ principally in schools and other educational institutions without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.” Yet one of the questions I hear most frequently in my human rights workshops is: “Why didn’t we ever learn this before?”

In my opinion, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as important and relevant today as it was in 1948. If you take the time to educate yourself on all 30 articles of the UDHR, you will see why. These 30 rights belong to everyone, everywhere. Click here for a free online course: https://www.humanrights.com/course/

Once you are educated on your 30 human rights, the next step is to get into action. First, identify the human rights you are most passionate about. Next, come up with a plan on how to promote or protect those rights for yourself and others. You can most likely find a non-profit organization in your region that is already getting good results in the human right you are most interested in so you can start by teaming up with them.

A side benefit I’ve found, is if you are working on something you are passionate about, not only will it bring the human right to life but it brings you more to life as well. 

Article 26, Right to Education, in Part 2 specifically states: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” This is something that can and should be done in the education systems in our countries. However, if they don’t, citizens of Earth—you and me–have the responsibility and power to make sure all people are educated on their human rights.

Article 29, Responsibility, in Part 1 says: “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.”  There are nearly 8 billion people on this planet at this time. EVERYONE has the right to know and have their 30 human rights.  There is still much more good work to do in this area.

Governments (public sector) and Businesses (private sector) have their role to play in all of this. However, the 3rd sector, Civil Society, also has a BIG role to play. In my opinion, the 3rd sector holds tremendous, untapped, latent² power.

In a democracy, UDHR Article #21, “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”. Businesses also work for the people because without consumers, there is no business. It is up to US to use our power responsibly and to use our imaginations creatively to truly bring these human rights to life for everyone.

I can attest, it is work that is fun and rewarding and want you to know that you can make a difference. I am an ordinary citizen who thought something needed to be done and just started taking steps with the help of the United for Human Rights educational materials. It wasn’t long before I was invited to speak at both the Constitution Center in Philadelphia and the United Nations in New York.

 Who knows where the journey may lead you? Take your first step and find out!

 

References:

¹Expounded – to explain by setting forth in careful and often elaborate detail https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expounded

²Latent – present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious or active https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/latent

 

The Right to Know the Impact of What’s in Our Food

The Right to Know the Impact of What’s in Our Food

We all have the right to food! We also have the right to know the definition of food, the purpose of food, and the impact of each of the ingredients in our food. For that, we need to be educated—most likely, self-educated.

Food, noun is defined as:

  1. material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy
  2. nutriment in solid form (more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids)
  3. something that nourishes, sustains or supplies

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/food

 Nourish, verb is defined as:

  1. nurture; rear
  2. to promote the growth of
  3. to furnish or sustain with nutriment: FEED

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nourish

What should we be feeding ourselves and our families to ensure optimal health?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, presents overall guidance in choosing nutrient-dense food and beverages in place of less healthy choices.  The guidelines recognize that individuals ultimately decide what and how much to consume. However, it also states that health professionals, communities, businesses and industries, government and other segments of society all have a role to play in supporting individuals and families in making choices that align with the Dietary Guidelines and ensuring that all people have access to a healthy and affordable food supply.¹ 

Some nutrient-dense foods, like fruit, have a sweet taste and also contain fiber which we need. However, highly processed foods and added sugar are not nutrient-dense and are not part of a healthy lifestyle.

Danger in our Food

Harvard Health published an article titled “The Sweet Danger of Sugar” in November 2019. It said that too much added sugar can be one of the most dangerous threats to cardiovascular disease. Added sugar is sugar that manufacturers add to products to enhance flavor or extend shelf life. The article went on to say that in the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy and most processed foods.²

Even though there are more and more studies on the danger of sugar, you will find it in many items on grocery store shelves. The World Health Organization is challenging us to eat no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Could you imagine putting 6 teaspoons of added sugar into your mouth each day? Even that seems like a lot!

Sugar conversion:

1g = 4 calories

4g = 1 tsp

12g = 1 tbsp

According to Eric Edmeades, designer of The Immunity Blueprint, sugar stimulates appetite and suppresses the immune system. It is a leading cause in today’s Diabesity epidemic in the United States. Added sugar has been linked to a number of health issues including: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, dementia and even cancer. If you think that artificial sweeteners are a good substitute, think again. Dr. Marlene Merritt, author of Smart Blood Sugar, says most artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame, are nothing more than toxic junk.

If you really want that sweet taste, Healthy Keto Expert, Dr. Eric Berg, DC, recommends “good sweeteners” such as:  Xylitol (non-GMO), Erythritol (non-GMO), Stevia and Monk Fruit.³ He also suggests the herb gymnema for those who need help to control sugar cravings.⁴

Interesting to note, the United States spends more on healthcare per capita (per person) than any other country in the world⁵ yet the US does not even rate in the top 10 healthiest countries.⁶ These are clear indications that something needs to change.

What actions can we take?

Read the labels! Educate yourself on the ingredients in the food you are consuming.

In summary, 1. know the purpose of food: to nourish an organism in order to sustain life. 2. consume nutrient-dense foods (if possible, work with a nutritionist to come up with the best plan for you or check with your PCP) 3. do your best to eliminate added sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet. AND, 4. help educate others to do the same.  

Take responsibility for your nourishment. Contribute to a more healthy, free world for us all.

 

References:

¹https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/DGA_2020-2025_ExecutiveSummary_English.pdf

²https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-added-sugar-who-six-teaspoons-per-day-20140305-story.html#:~:text=The%20World%20Health%20Organization%20is%20challenging%20you%20to,daily%20calories%20come%20in%20the%20form%20of%20sugar.

³https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jROu0Mo3A9M&t=23s

https://www.drberg.com/blog/gymnema-herb-the-best-herb-for-sugar-and-carb-cravings

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-highest-healthcare-expenditures-in-the-world.html

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-healthiest-countries-in-the-world.html#:~:text=1%20Spain%20is%20considered%20to%20be%20the%20healthiest,in%20the%20country%20during%20the%20past%20several%20years.

 

Disclaimer: This blog page and website are for educational and general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, prescription or recommendation. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or changing your health regimen or diet.

The Right to Health and Well Being

The Right to Health and Well Being

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25: The Right to Health and Well Being

    • “Everyone has the right to a standard of living¹ adequate for the health² and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    • Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

There is so much packed in this particular UDHR Article that it is difficult to address all in a short blog. This blog will touch on pieces of the Right to Health.

Merriam-Webster defines health as the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; freedom from physical disease or pain; a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well².

If we can agree that there are 3 parts to a human being–body, mind and spirit–then, in order to have true healthcare or healing, we would need to consider and address all the parts–the whole–in any medication, treatment or therapy prescribed.

Some things to look at:

    • Are your medical care providers addressing you and/or your family members as whole human beings—body, mind, and spirit?
    • Is your current treatment or therapy getting to the source of the illness or injury resulting in true healing and you thriving and doing well?
    • Do you find yourself going deeper and deeper into the medical system (one doctor after another) or are you healed and thriving?
    • What kinds of things are you putting into your body, mind and spirit? Are they promoting health and healing or are they covering up symptoms, or worse, destructive?
    • Are you surrounded by people who build you up or people who have ways of nullifying³ you–making you feel smaller?
    • What changes do you need to make or actions do you need to take for you to thrive and do well?

Take time to answer the questions above and decide how much responsibility you are willing to take for your own health.

Another key point to consider about health is a famous quote by Greek physician, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” Not only does everyone have the right to food but the right to nutritious food so we are able to maintain healthy bodies and minds.

This quickly leads into the need to keep our environment clean (air, water and soil). Without nutrient-dense soil that is free from toxic pesticides and insecticides, our foods have little chance of being “medicine”. Organic foods tend to be more expensive, hence, the standard of living adequate for the health of self and family rises. However, one could argue that if nourishing foods are going into the body, it would reduce the high cost of medical care on the back end.

There is clearly plenty of work to do to bring this human right to life and make a fair and free world for us all. How do you want to help?

¹Standard of living – Standard of living refers to the material basis of well-being, which is reflected in a person’s consumption level. Standard of living of an individual or group of individuals is determined by their access to resources, which comprise of both cash and non-cash income. https://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/9-domains/standard-of-living-and-happiness/
²The derivation or origin of ‘health’ is before 1000; Middle English helthe, Old English hǣlth. See hale, whole, from dictionary.com
³Nullify – to make null, to make of no value or consequence. invalidate or cancel the effectiveness of something; to deprive of effective or continued existence. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nullify

Post By:  Ellen Firestone

What Does it Take to Live the Pledge?

What Does it Take to Live the Pledge?

Do you remember back in grade school when we started our day with the Pledge of Allegiance? With right hand over heart, we recited this pledge every day while admiring our Flag. I remember feeling very proud but not sure I truly understood what I was actually pledging OR, that someday it might take something more than words to fulfill the pledge–it might require action.

My son said the same pledge when he was in school and my nieces still say it today.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.

So, what did that actually mean? And, more importantly, did we really mean it?

Pledge: to promise solemnly.¹

Allegiance: devotion or loyalty to a person, group or cause.²

Republic: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.³ 

Indivisible: not divisible; not separable into parts; incapable of being divided.⁴

Liberty: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control. Power of Choice.⁵  

Justice: the administration of law, especially the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity.⁶ 

All: Everybody, Everything.⁷

Most of us have probably rarely considered the possibility of losing the liberties we’ve been so fortunate to have in the United States of America.  

If we truly pledge this allegiance (promise to be loyal to the cause), we need to be highly aware of decisions and events happening in our own country and around the world so as to prevent the slow encroachment and violation of our human rights and liberties.

We can begin by knowing our 30 Universal Human Rights and make sure others know them as well.

Freedom is not free. It comes with responsibility.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21, Section 3 states: The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government. Our responsibility does not end with a vote. Another action you can take is to continuously use your voice effectively with your Congress people.

Know Your 30 Human Rights. Live the Pledge. The power is in you!

Post By:  Ellen Firestone