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One act at a time

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Human Rights

We can all make a difference

15th October 2017
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When I was fourteen I joined Peacejam and it was a year later that I attended a workshop at a Peacejam New England conference about human trafficking. When I learned how prevalent human trafficking is within the US, and I understood how easily a young girl like me or my friends could be tricked into a lifetime of sexual slavery, it was like being hit in the face with a frying pan. I realized without a doubt that this is what I wanted to spend my life working against. Ever since, I have been working to raise awareness, fight trafficking at its roots, and heal survivors.

Recently I have been in a time of transition, and wondering what the next week, month, or year would hold for me. Instead of feeling fear around this uncertainty, I focused on the idea that this openness would bring me exactly what I needed, and trusting that I would end up right where I am supposed to be. When I got an email a few weeks ago from Peacejam telling me that our PJ Laureate partner Kailash Satyarthi was marching across India to end human trafficking and asking if I would want to join, it felt like a miracle. There was absolutely nothing holding me back and nothing I would rather be doing!! I immediately replied YES and before you know it, I was on a plane to India to join the Bharat Yatra!

The Bharat Yatra started on September 11 from the southern tip of India and traveled 11,000km all the way north to Delhi, with six routes coming together from all over the country, and a grand total of over 800,000 participants over the past month. As I write this on the culmination day, October 16, 2017, all of the groups from around the country have made it to Delhi. The energy is high – think Peacejam conference times twelve! Hundreds of people are here in Delhi united in the stand against human trafficking. Many have been marching for over a month. Many are survivors of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse themselves.

I marched Route 5, the Northern route stretching from Jammu to Delhi, with a group of 37 core marchers and many joining in each town along the way. Many of them are children who Kailash Satyarthi personally rescued from lives of slavery and abuse. Hearing their stories over the past two weeks and seeing the joy and resilience that they have in each day is truly humbling and inspiring. I have been beyond blessed to have spent this time with these children, and after the Yatra ends I will be volunteering at Kailash Satyarthi’s ashram and safe home where many of them live. Joining these kids as we march through India chanting for peace, demanding an end to child abuse, calling for education for all, and praying for an end to human trafficking has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

One of my favorite memories is the night we passed through Rishikesh. This spiritual hotspot has always been a dream of mine – nestled at the feet of the Himalayas and with the holy Ganges rivers flowing through it, Rishikesh demands presence and prayer. We arrived as the sun was setting, and Kailash Satyarthi lead aarti and puja (traditional prayer ceremonies) on the banks of the Ganges, with thousands in attendance. We sang, we burned lamps and incense, we offered flowers and candles to the river, and we all raised our hands together in prayer for an end to human trafficking. We prayed for a world full of compassion for our children, where child abuse cannot exist. We prayed for the waters to be cleansed and for them to cleanse our world. I cannot imagine a more perfect way to see Rishikesh for the first time. That night I also met Kailash Satyarthi in person and was able to connect with him about our shared mission in life. Seeing him leading this march, hearing him speak about his lifetime working for this cause, and seeing the way he loves every child he meets as his own has been so inspiring, powerful, and beautiful.

I am forever grateful for Peacejam. For teaching me about human trafficking in the first place and uniting me with my life’s purpose, for empowering me to know I CAN make a difference, for enabling me to travel the world spreading the Peacejam message, and for supporting me in so many other ways.. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, over and over again. It was an honor to represent Peacejam during the Bharat Yatra and be able to spread our love and support with India. A special thank you to Graves Kiely for reaching out to me and wanting to send me here. Your generosity and passion are changing the world every day. Thank you for all you have done for Peacejam, for our beautiful interconnected Peacejam family,  and for me. Thank you to all Peacejammers, past and present, for working to create a world of peace. We may be fighting a monster with a thousand  ugly heads, but there are a MILLION of us. And we will win.

Peace,
Allie Sibner
PS I love you all 🙂
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