Back out of the office again this week! I traveled to Monterey Bay, with Mandolyn and our colleague Benita, to host a ‘Not For Sale’ information booth at the ‘Spirit West Coast’ Festival. Well they tell me it was in Monterey Bay, but to be honest they could have driven me anywhere – with two action packed days at the start of the week, and a full day of packing up the car with stock from the store to take to the festival, I was fast asleep about 5 minutes after leaving Half Moon Bay. I woke up as we pulled on to the festival grounds, and my laptop fell on my head. We had arrived!
Over the course of the next 4 days hundreds of people passed through our booth to find out about the work of ‘Not For Sale’, and the stories behind the products we were selling. So many were impressed to hear that they had been made by survivors of human trafficking and slavery, and it was really satisfying to know that people were leaving better educated on the reality of life for over 30 million people in our world today.
Of course we had a number of people who thought it was hilarious to point out that we were called ‘Not For Sale’, and yet we were actually selling items – believe me, after standing outside for 7 hours or so repeating a similar message, this gets progressively less amusing. Nonetheless it often led to further discussion about how PEOPLE are not for sale, and challenging them to take up their role in the movement, whatever that might be. It also became a running joke between the three of us that people seemed to be far more concerned about the origin of my accent rather than the problem of modern day slavery (“no sir, I am not from South Africa or new Zealand actually!!”).
However, this was the first year that ‘Not For Sale’ had represented as Spirit West Coast and in many ways it was necessary to do some hard-core foundational labour to build a platform for years to come. It also made those individual gems shine brighter who came into our tent excited to find that we were ‘the people from the book!’, and we were encouraged by their enthusiasm to support the cause and spread the word. I was particularly encouraged by the interest and excitement of the young people – particularly as this is the generation that will be carrying the movement forward after us. Many of the teenagers and even young kids would respond to our message with, “Wow!”, and “That’s so cool!” They also seemed grow about 2 foot taller as we told them how important they are to the movement, and how we are relying on them to be abolitionists in their own schools, colleges and youth groups because quite simply, they can do it better than us.
Two visitors to our booth specifically stand out in my mind. The first visitor was ‘Hope’ – a woman from the Sunnyvale area who had not heard about Not For Sale before. As I began to tell her about our goal and the work of the overseas projects, she began to cry, and it reminded me that we are not alone. Even though at such a large festival we were outnumbered by people who did not yet know about NFS and the scope of human trafficking, it was a reminder that many many people around the world share the same core passion to see people rescued and freed from slavery, and that there is ‘hope’ that people DO what to make a difference to this problem.
The second visitor was ‘Inspiration’ – a young girl probably about 14 years old using her allowance to buy one of the $10 beanies that had been made by women and children in Swaziland. I had not actually spoken with her about the details of our work, but was just conveniently standing near the cash box, so took her money. I handed her the change, which she took, fanned through, halved between her two hands, and passed one handful back to me. I looked at her confused and just said, ‘for a donation?’. ‘Yes’ she said, wondering why I was confused. She turned around and walked back out along with her friends. I don’t know if she knows exactly what we do – probably not. I don’t know if she has read Dave’s book – probably not. But she knew that slavery was bad and that she could do something about it in that moment. I want to be like her.