I am, because you are

I am, because you are

Written by Mark Wexler

15 years ago I sat on a balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean in Durban, South Africa. I was with my former professor and future co-founder of Not For Sale, David Batstone. Stiff drink in hand, we discussed this insane thing called human trafficking.

It was during this conversation that we decided to start Not For Sale.

For the previous half year I had worked with a friend, Tom Hewitt, assisting his non-profit organization that uses sport to support at-risk and exploited youth. Tom later became Not For Sale’s Southern Africa Director, helping drive our programming in both South Africa and Mozambique. 

One of the many lasting things that stayed with me from my time in Southern African was an ethic called ubuntu. 

Quite literally my humanity is tied to yours, and your humanity is tied to mine. And our humanity is tied to the people that Not For Sale serves on a daily basis.

Co-Founder of Not For Sale – Mark Wexler

A rough translation of ubuntu’s meaning is: “I am because you are.” 

Another way to think of ubuntu, is that everything I do has an effect on you and your well being, and everything you do has an effect on me and my well being. Sure, we might be different, but undoubtedly we are interconnected. And importantly that is what animates our humanity. Our connectedness is actually what makes us…. us. 

Today, for the first time ever, on a global scale we are facing down a foe, COVID-19, that illuminates these (for many of us) previously invisible ties of ubuntu. Quite literally my humanity is tied to yours, and your humanity is tied to mine. And our humanity is tied to the people that Not For Sale serves on a daily basis.

Over the last few days we have talked with many of Not For Sale’s project leaders around the world. COVID-19 is having a real effect on people we serve.

We wanted to briefly share with you some of the immediately known effects on our work:

UGANDA: Last year Not For Sale supported 1,512 children refugees gain access to education in Uganda. We learned Friday that schools have been ordered closed for a month as a precaution. This will have a massive ripple effect on our kids. For most of them the food they receive at our school is the only meal they eat on any given day. We’re working on a way to safely deliver meals throughout the refugee camp.

NETHERLANDS: Our Dignita restaurants in Amsterdam have been ordered closed indefinitely. This has meant that our culinary training program for survivors, which supported 164 people last year, is working to set up an online video training course.

VIETNAM: Our partners are seeing an uptick in human traffickers preying on people most effected by COVID-19. This is in large part due to business closures and job losses which means that families are unable to provide for their children. It means that teenage girls are at higher risk of early marriage. But even through all this, just yesterday, our team rescued a 23 year old woman that was trafficked into China 6 months ago. (She remains in 2 week quarantine.) 

Over the duration of this crisis, we will be sharing with you updates on the effect COVID-19 is having on our team, friends, partners, and the people that we serve. Later this week we will share with you an interview with co-founder, David Batstone. 

More than ever we are committed to helping people that need support. Our resolve has not wavered, it is only strengthened by what we are up against with COVID-19.

In the spirit of ubuntu, acknowledging our interconnectedness, we will also be coming to you, our Not For Sale family, as specific needs arise in our community of survivors and at-risk people to appeal for your help as well. 

In Solidarity, Mark Wexler

Co-Founder & CEO, Not For Sale

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NFS Vietnam Update

NFS Vietnam Update

Written by Michael Brosowski

It’s hardly news at all now. The coronavirus, COVID-19, has swept the world. From some murmured concerns in December, this viral infection is now the daily lead story everywhere.

People are worried. Over 130,000 are sick. Almost 5,000 have died.

In response, the world is in panic mode. Wearing a face mask is the new normal in many countries. Schools are closed, supermarket shelves are empty of basic items, flights and events have been cancelled.

This isn’t easy on anybody.

The world has seen global crises before, and we will again. And every time, it’s the poorest in society who are the hardest hit.

Co-Founder of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation – Michael Brosowski

And without diminishing these very real fears and tragedies, we can see that it’s the world’s most vulnerable who are facing the grimmest of futures because of the virus.

Families living without access to health facilities – or without the ability to pay for testing – can do nothing but hope they don’t fall ill.

Women who spend all day selling their goods in the crowded markets of villages around the world have to choose between working in a high-risk environment… or their whole family going hungry.

Elderly and chronically ill people, who are most at risk of fatal consequences if they catch the virus, risk being stranded at home alone, knowing that simply going out in public poses a risk to their life.

And for Blue Dragon, a very particular group of people is suffering: women and girls in slavery.

Blue Dragon is well known for our rescues of people who have been trafficked and sold for labor or sexual exploitation. Last year alone, we rescued 111 women and girls who had been trafficked from Vietnam into China and sold, mostly to men wanting wives.

Since the coronavirus forced the closure of the Chinese-Vietnamese border, and travel within China became heavily restricted, these rescues have all but ceased. We’ve succeeded in getting just a few people out of slavery and into safe houses to hide while waiting for the restrictions to pass.

Calls for help, however, keep coming. And while all are urgent, some are extremely distressing. One woman last week made the call at risk of her life, knowing that calling for help would be dangerous, but if she cannot escape she will be killed anyway.

The man who bought her beats her routinely and regularly. It’s just a matter of time before he kills her.

That woman is safe now – but there are 27 more people in contact with Blue Dragon hoping we can get to them too.

The coronavirus is bad for everyone, without exception. For the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, the virus is a risk to their life whether they are infected or not.

So what can I do?

If you want to take action, don’t feel helpless. Some ways you can help right now:

  • Check with your neighbors and community – are there elderly people, single parents with kids at home, or chronically ill people who need supplies delivered to their home? Or just a friendly phone call to check in on how they are doing?
  • Make a donation. Right now, charities around the world are canceling fundraising events, and donations are drying up. If you have a few spare dollars, they will be deeply appreciated.
  • Support your local businesses. Unless your government (or a doctor!) advises otherwise, get down to the shops with your facemask on rather than ordering from giant, automated online systems. The first people to lose their jobs as business slows down will be those who are already on low salaries in your local shop or cafe.

The world has seen global crises before, and we will again. And every time, it’s the poorest in society who are the hardest hit.

As we pull through the coronavirus in coming months, let’s stay determined to make the world a more just, fairer place for all people, for the long term.

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Rebbl With A Cause

Rebbl With A Cause

Written by Not For Sale

Several thousand people are estimated to be subjected to trafficking within Peru, including forced labor in mining, logging, and agriculture. Many of these people come from impoverished regions of the Amazon.  

Working to help these survivors, Not For Sale collaborated with notable abolitionists to support a shelter for survivors and at-risk youth in Peru.

After a few years, Not For Sale co-founders, Dave Batstone and Mark Wexler, knew they could build thousands of shelters and still not address the roots of the problem.

So, they teamed up with business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and change-makers to create a solution to the problem. Thus was born REBBL — a beverage company that would source its ingredients in an ethical way, making change for the communities that grew the roots, berries, bark, and leaves that go into every drink.

Watch now for the story of how REBBL was created, the change its made with Not For Sale in the Amazon rainforest, and how business can be a force for good.

There’s a monumental role that business can play as a force for good.

Co-Founder of Not For Sale – David Batstone

A short film on Rebbl’s origin story.  Narrated by Ruby Rose.

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We Thought We Were Forgotten

That was a line that was said to me by a man named Simon, who won the past year’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, an event created by Spence Diamonds and Not For Sale to invest in refugee-started enterprises. This man had nothing but an idea, and he went with it. He worked hard, created his own business and won the Entrepreneurship Challenge — which helped his business increase production, thereby increasing profit.

When he said that line to me, “we thought we were forgotten”, it not only shattered my heart but it also made me realize … We haven’t forgot about them, we forgot how to be human enough to do something about it.

When I was chosen to go on this experience, I was scared because I have been sheltered my whole life and I have never seen THIS kind of struggle and didn’t know how it would affect me. My trip to Uganda for the 2019 Entrepreneurship Challenge was only three days after my wedding, and my son and husband would have to stay behind. This was hard, and I missed them, but I needed this. How could I truly teach my son about the world if I hadn’t seen it?

The time I spent in Uganda with the Not For Sale team and Spence Diamonds team taught me a lot. The people I met in Uganda, the children at the schools and the contestants in the challenge made such an impact on my life.

There are over 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. These people are faced with trauma, and struggle on a daily basis. Their most basic needs are almost impossible to meet due to lack of supply or funds. There were so many people walking miles with water jugs just for water.

The contestants at the Entrepreneurship Challenge all had such amazing stories of how they changed their lives, how they worked hard to better the lives of their family, and how they learned a skill to better themselves. They had such incredible and heart-breaking stories of their pasts, things that have happened to them that I could never imagine. They saw an idea, or they learned a skill which allowed them to start a business. They tried so hard to make anything work to make money — and they had success. These stories are real-life, real heartache stories, that make you realize how strong people truly are. The faces on the winners of this year’s challenge will forever be imbedded in my heart. They hugged us and shared their joy, and this was a beautiful moment. This was the face of Hope and Opportunity.

When we met the children at the schools that Not For Sale and Spence Diamonds support, and the children sang to us, I cried — each time. These children were welcoming and loving. They were so excited to show us their school and learn about us, who we are and where we came from.

The children wrote a poem about how grateful they are for the water well we built, and it broke us all into tears. Before the well, they had to walk for 3 hours just to get water to drink and wash with. Three hours … little children, and teachers. It’s upsetting. It’s heartbreaking but it’s real. When I saw their faces and how Spence Diamonds and Not for Sale is actually helping, I wanted to share this story.

Spence Diamonds is donating a portion of the revenue from every artisan-created diamond to Not For Sale to help these children. I saw this, and this is real.
I have never been more proud to represent a company and foundation that not only gives back but empowers others to succeed on their own.

The world has not forgotten about Uganda’s refugees, and I will share their story.

~ Stephanie Varone

A Story of Generosity

Last December, a rock musician named Toon in Thailand announced that he was raising money for public healthcare, undertaking a 1,300 mile run over 55 days to gain interest in the cause. Toon asked every Thai person to give 10 baht (about a quarter) which, when pooled together, would be more than enough to meet his goal. The children of Not For Sale Thailand were inspired to help Toon reach his goal, and starting scraping together coins to donate. They realized that their collection was meager, so they decided to go to the local market and ask for donations toward Toon’s cause. Their hard work paid off and their donation of around $3 turned into over $500!  Kru Nam, Not For Sale Thailand director, was excited to see the dedication the children had, even as they themselves had little to give. Because the children had been helped by others, they felt the duty to also be in service of others. The gift of giving inspired the children to themselves be givers, to those who need help. Toon’s goal was to raise $20 million. He raised $33 million. If you’re inspired by this story like we are, help us tell another story of generosity, hope, and change by giving to Not For Sale this holiday season.  Will you inspire by joining the cycle of generosity?

The Strengths Helping this Entrepreneur make Impact Sustainable

From establishing his own non-profit in El Salvador, to being a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, teaching at the University of San Francisco, creating global charity ‘Not For Sale’ and social enterprises Z Shoes and Rebbl, David Batstone has done it all. But no matter where he has gone, success has followed.
Why? Batstone believes it’s his acceptance of failure and constant desire to learn. But we wanted to delve a little deeper. So we asked him to complete the Red Bull Wingfinder test. Here’s what we discovered.

Highly confident

With confidence you have the self-belief to take the lead, try new things and meet challenges head-on. And that’s exactly what Batstone has done throughout his long and varied career. After starting a non-profit in conflict-ridden El Salvador in the 1980s, he became a tech journalist, before switching again to a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. A few years there gave him the business acumen to co-found Business 2.0 magazine.
But then, just as that adventure began to take off, Batstone read an article on human trafficking and felt compelled to take action. He downed tools to travel the world and investigate. Five years later, Batstone has created ‘Not For Sale’, and is changing lives in Thailand, Peru and Romania by providing housing for those in need. His life has been defined by self-belief, so it’s no surprise that Red Bull Wingfinder has highly confident as one of his main strengths. And Batstone’s approach to failure is what truly solidifies that.
Read more about how Not For Sale and Z Shoes are creating positive social impact:https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/david-batstone-red-bull-wingfinder-strengths