My name is Natalie, I am 23 years old, and I am from Buckinghamshire in the U.K (just to quash the misconceptions now – there is no relation there to Buckingham Palace, I’ve never met the Queen, and I don’t bump into Kate Middleton at the supermarket!). I just completed a 4-year BSc Human Psychology (Hons) degree, and am now free to pursue what I REALLY want to do – abolish slavery in our lifetime.
I first heard about the ‘Not For Sale Campaign’ and the Fellowship course while I was doing a placement year with a not-for-profit organisation in Melbourne, Australia. David Batstone came to speak as part of the ‘Stop Paying for Slavery Tour’ in 2010, and over the three days I listened, I realised that I couldn’t walk away knowing what I now knew, and do nothing about it. The very next day I left Melbourne with a friend, and drove around Australia for a month in a campervan – I took with me a copy of David’s book ‘Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade’ and read every word twice. I think I always knew slavery was a problem, but this book frankly informed me of the reality. It grabbed hold of my imagination, and my heart, and empowered me to believe that it was possible to actually make a difference in what immediately presents itself as a hopeless and uncontrollable situation.
By the time I returned to Melbourne I had decided to look into applying for the Fellowship course – I was accepted, and struggled to complete my last year of uni in the U.K knowing what was waiting for me at the end! But now, almost a year to the day that I first heard about ‘Not For Sale’, I find myself sitting here in the Fellow’s House on a Saturday night reflecting on Week One.
“If over the next 25 years we have not caused change – we have failed.”
This was the first sentence to smack me in the face when Dave addressed the entire staff and fellows team on Wednesday with a ‘State of the Union’ update. This week has been jam-packed full – we have moved into the fellows’ house, we have explored the local area, we have heard from members of staff representing each of the various platforms that make up ‘Not For Sale’, heard about the vision and history of the organisation, been trained in the store, and met more new people than I can count. It is easy to get lost in the middle of everything, sitting quietly as everybody busily attends to what needs to get done; to be impressed at how each element of the organisation fits together so well, to applaud the highest standards of innovation and vision, to admire the commitment to efficiency and initiative, to aspire to be the best at what we do.
But actually, when I take a step back from the whirlwind that has been each day of the fellowship so far, it is important to appreciate that each aspect of the organisation, including that work that I am about to start myself, must contribute to the overall goal. Unless we are effecting change that directly translates into less people being trafficked and held in slavery, then we have missed the point, as Dave says; we have failed the mission.
I suppose it is like ordering a drink at Starbucks – the cashier takes the order and offers perfect customer service, processing the transaction with expertise. The team of baristas take over, roasting the beans to perfection, perfectly frothing the milk – the temperature just right. The latte art is applied with precision, and the caramel sauce lightly and artistically drizzled. The drink is crafted to perfection and the team’s passion for coffee is evident. However…if it turns out that the customer ordered tea, then none of that matters. You can complete a task to perfection, but its focus must be accurate to achieve the desired goal.
And so Dave’s comment really framed everything for me this week: It is not enough for me to just work hard and learn a lot, getting engulfed in the activity of the day-to-day. Each day actually has to be taking us closer to the goal of ending slavery in our lifetime, so that at the end of this 6 months, I can look back and be sure that I have not just done a ‘good job’, or ‘completed the fellowship’, but that I have actually contributed to influencing change in our society – a society where no one is for sale.