Holly Boles | Week 3: Heading Upstream

The last three weeks of my life have been a complete whirlwind. I am learning more everyday and am currently amazed with the amount of information in my head. Donor relations and store inventory and parties and operations and spreadsheets and emails that never end…I was told this fellowship would be the most intense 6 months of my life; I think that will end up being true. It has been a long time since I have had a job that truly challenges me.

Dave Batstone is the President and Co-founder of Not For Sale, and between trips traveling the world, he stops in to catch us up on what is going on ‘on the ground’ with different Not For Sale ventures around the world. The first time I heard him speak, he talked about how we are ‘going upstream.’ If we are ever going to end modern day slavery, we need to do more than rescue girls out of brothels and children out of factories, we need to address why they are there in the first place.

It’s funny, when I first head about child trafficking, I wanted to go bust down some brothel doors. I think this is a common reaction- you see a problem and desperately want to find an immediate solution. Many organizations are rescuing people, and while that is wonderful, they are in a never-ending battle. Don’t get me wrong; I would jump at the chance to go work with Kru Nam rescuing children. However, if I remove 4 children from a brothel in Amsterdam, the John’s and traffickers will simply find 4 more children to replace them with.  It won’t change the fact that there are still millions of vulnerable communities around the world who will be preyed upon.  We need to move upstream and find out where these people are coming from and what caused them to be trafficked in the first place.

One of the many ways that Not For Sale is heading upstream is by researching where the women in the windows in Amsterdam are coming from. It turns out that 70% of them are from Hungary or Romania. With that knowledge, we are going to those areas in Hungary and Romania to find out what economic problems and cultural norms are causing these women to end up as prostitutes in the Red Light District. It is only after this is discovered that we can start looking for ways to stop the trafficking of women in the first place.

I am consistently amazed at this organization- everyone’s passion is contagious and I am thankful to be apart of it.

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