DEVELOPMENT | Human Trafficking + The Brave Collection19.9.13
The subject of human trafficking is very much close to my heart. As an anthropologist, an international development specialist, and someone who is a member of Women in Mining, the topic of human trafficking is one that I encounter more often that I wish. Although I grew up in a country where the natural resources industry played a large part in our economy, there was little publicity around the underbelly of it, the silenced tongues of the dead, raped and impoverished. It was only until my mother became a volunteer counselor at the Help & Shelter for Abused Women when I was in primary school, did I really get a sense of gender-based violence in the country, and then coming across SOMALY MAM1(get to know who she is people) did I really get to delve into human trafficking and the sex slavery that comes with it. Now, if you open up a Guyanese newspaper you can expect to read an article relating to a gender-based violence offense on a regular--for the most part domestic violence cases--with human trafficking cases intertwined.
If you know anything about Guyana, then you will know that most of the country is inaccessible, with the coast being the most densely populated region, and the interior (towards Venezuela and Brasil) being mostly jungle and mountains with the Indigenous [Amerindian] Peoples being the main inhabitants. It is in the latter, deeply cloaked by a canopy of trees that mining occurs, and also where human trafficking of young women [Indigenous and Non-Indigenous] occurs--hidden from the prying eyes of the watchdogs (however, human trafficking in Guyana seems to be mostly played out in the mining towns attached to the excavation sites instead of on site).
Whilst I was living in the Amazon, I would sell groceries to the artisanal miners who would travel to my village. Of course, I would eavesdrop (afterall, isn't that what anthropologists do?) on their conversations and on numerous occasions heard of the indigenous women who were brought to the sites to cook and wash the men's clothes. On one occasion I asked if there were sex workers on the site and was answered with a grin and the phrase "Miss Stacy what type of question is that?" I, unfortunately, never met any of these workers, but I have always wanted to work with them in some way as part of a rehabilitation programme that incorporated economic empowerment and counseling. However, I never conceived a plan on what I could to do address the issue in my country and the region in a sustainable and viable way, until I came across The Brave Collection.
The Brave Collection is a social entrepreneurship venture, which takes fashion and marries it with advocacy, awareness and economic empowerment of local artisans to help fight human trafficking in Cambodia. The idea is simple: make bracelets that use traditional techniques and modern designs, and appeal to a global audience. On each bracelet the word "Klahan," which means "Brave" in Khmer, the language of Cambodia, is also beautifully fabricated from local materials by local hands. The concept is perfect! Not only are you donating when you buy one of these gorgeous bracelets, you are also supporting two causes--the fight against human trafficking and a fair trade venture.
The Conscience Collective's goal to move towards supporting social entrepreneurships is one that we hope can benefit the local artisans, as well as address integral developmental issues that we see as necessary towards sustainability, so you can imagine how The Brave Collection has inspired me, along with other projects of similar nature, such as the current social entrepreneurship project Emma H is running/managing/kicking ass on for Nature Seekers in Trinidad, to develop a similar project in my homeland.
Of course, Emma & I are constantly talking about our plans for the future, and this is one of the main aspects of where we wish to take our simple blog--from words to actions. So please share your thoughts on social entrepreneurships, key issues that you see can be addressed in a similar way as the people of The Brave Collection have, and our goals towards economic empowerment and advocacy.
Each bracelet costs $38
1. Somaly Mam is definitely one of my heroines.