24 November 2015

Happy Anniversary!

This month marks the first anniversary of Bijlmer Bridge2Hope! It has been exciting to watch our participants grow and change and to reflect how far we have come this past year. I have observed a huge increase in the women’s confidence over the last year.  Our participants are making better, well-informed decisions for themselves and realizing their potential for the future through the education they are receiving.  For example, they continue to work hard on becoming fluent in Dutch.  Their comprehension and verbal skills are increasing weekly and with their increased confidence, they are able to put into practice what they are learning in the classroom.  One participant has been recently been complimented by a native Dutch speaker on her language improvement, and this makes her eager to learn all the more!

We were ecstatic that the Rotary Club of the Netherlands recently adopted Bijlmer Bridge2Hope and funds from their Christmas campaign will go towards getting the materials we need to support our participants as they walk the road from victim to survivor.  We will also be holding some exciting events in the New Year to help support the project. Please check our website, Facebook page or blog in the coming months for more information. As always, remember that the first step to helping victims of human trafficking is an awareness of the fact that human trafficking is a major global issue.  It is not something that only occurs somewhere far away from you, and it is not an issue can be ignored in the hopes that it will eventually go away.  Be aware, be involved, be compassionate and be engaged.  Bijlmer Bridge2Hope has seen a difference made in the lives of our participants over the past year, and with your help we look forward to seeing the positive changes that the next year brings. 

11 November 2015

The Hague Talks Video

Here is the talk that I presented at the Hague Talks to raise awareness on the subject of human trafficking and to explain a bit what Bijlmer Bridge2Hope does.  Please take the time to watch it and let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you!

06 November 2015

The Hague Talks

Bijlmer Bridge2Hope had an exciting opportunity this past week!  We were invited to the Hague talks to present on the subject of “Women’s Lives Bought and Sold—What is Your Part in Human Trafficking?”

I spoke on my experiences in working with victims of human trafficking for sexual purposes in Niger, West Africa, and survivors of human trafficking for sexual purposes at Bijlmer Bridge2Hope. This involved going out of my comfort zone, but it was an exciting opportunity and the talk went really well and most importantly was well received by the audience, raising lots of awareness for The Bijlmer Project! The Youtube link will be up soon, and I will put it up on the blog once it is available.  For now, here are a couple of photos from the event. 
Giving the Hague Talk
During the question period with the moderator

Maarten Abelman, the chief of staff of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, also gave an inspiring talk in regards to the crime of human trafficking for labour purposes.  We all have a part to play in stopping the horrific human trafficking crimes that are carried out against men and women on a daily basis—be aware and get involved!

13 October 2015

House Visits and Thanksgiving

This past weekend Canada celebrated Thanksgiving, and since I am Canadian, I was thinking about all the items, corporal and spiritual, that I am grateful for.  The list was made even more discernable after visiting some of our participants’ houses last Friday.  Visiting the places where some of our ladies reside was thought provoking.  The house visits gave us the opportunity so see what the needs of our participants are first hand, thus ensuring that Bijlmer Bridge2Hope is better able work towards truly improving the needs of our ladies.

It was a privilege to be welcomed into the participants’ residences with open arms, a cup of tea or juice, and an openness and thankfulness expressed for the effects that they do have. 
We surely do live a life of privilege… many times we do not realize just how much we have, or how blessed we truly are.  Sometimes we fall into a pattern of looking at the negative side of life, seeing only the things in our house that need fixing, complaining about a lack of clothes when our wardrobe is full, or saying we need a new pair of shoes, even though we already have ten other pairs in the front hall, or looking in the fridge and seeing “nothing” to eat.

Looking at the circumstances of others definitely gives one a new perspective to think about when they feel themselves slipping into a negative pattern of thinking. We all, no matter our situations, have something to be thankful about.  I for one am thankful for the opportunity to work with our participants in Bijlmer Bridge2Hope.  They are beautiful individuals who teach me as much as I am hopefully teaching them…