Tuesday, June 16, 2009

STOP! Where are you going with this?

I know I have a few followers on this blog - not a lot - just a few. Some of you may have landed here because of an interest in dolls, or home design or quilting or felting. One follower is my best friend from high school (hi Gail!) and I know she is not interested in anything remotely crafty or domestic. Case in point - when I got married I had a kitchen tea. Everyone was asked to bring their favourite receipe. She brought a list of favourite restaurants because she makes reservations for dinner. So she's here to keep track of me (and now you've got your licence back (ahem) you will have to drive up the M2 and visit me).
But amongst the thoughts on paint colours and crafty love - you will perhaps have noticed a slight bent towards social justice issues. It may seem incongrous to be talking about pretty things one minute and horrific injustices the next but that's the nature of the world we live in.
I follow a number of blogs - some present a world where life is a continuous Martha Stewart Living event, untouched and unruffled by the crueler considerations of life. But even Martha had a time when life went pear-shaped and she spent time in the clink for corporate indiscretions!
I much prefer blogs that are more balanced and more real. One of the best blogs that walks these two worlds is Tara Bradford's Paris Parfait. In between pictures of vitrines at Galleries Lafayette and Parisian brocantes, Tara packs a punch with intelligent and incisive commentary on US, Middle Eastern and European politics. She calls people, political parties and whole countries out on their less than savoury policies and practices. She refuses to stand idly by and not speak up.
Which brings me to this -
About a year ago the issue of People Trafficking blipped on my radar. People trafficking is modern day slavery. Children, yes, CHILDREN are bought and sold as cheap labour and sex slaves and it happens EVERYWHERE.

Roughly 2 to 4 million people are trafficked in and across borders each year.
Human trafficking is now a leading source of profits for organized crime, together with drugs and weapons, generating an estimated 9.5 billion dollars per year.
The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children.
The average victim is forced to have sex up to 20 times a day.
The CIA calculates that profits from one trafficked woman alone averages around $250,000 USD per year.
Traffickers acquire their victims in a number of ways. Sometimes they are kidnapped outright in one country and taken forcibly to another. Traffickers also entice victims to migrate voluntarily with false promises of well-paying jobs in foreign countries as au pairs, models, dancers, domestic workers, etc. When they arrive at their destination many are placed in physically confining conditions, their travel documents and passports are taken away and both they and their families are threatened if they do not cooperate. Women and girls are forced to work as prostitutes in heavily guarded brothels and strip clubs.
An estimated 1.8 million children are exploited by the commercial human trafficking industry. Children are abducted from rural areas and trafficked into a range of exploitive practices, which include bonded labor, sexual exploitation, marriage, illicit adoptions, and begging.
Young girls, some as young as 12 years old, are forced to work in brothels, massage parlors, prostitution rings, strip clubs, or used to produce pornographic materials.
Children are recruited and trafficked to earn money by begging or selling goods.
Child beggars are sometimes maimed by their captors to generate sympathy and generosity from potential buyers.
Victims are forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions and are subject to many abuses such as malnutrition, sleep deprivation, emotional abuse, and beatings, lack of healthcare and forced abortions. Many contract STD's and hepatitis A & B and HIV/AIDs.
Children are deprived of basic education and any sort of parental upbringing, and are completely dependent on their captors for food and shelter.
Perhaps it doesn't come as a total shock to some that it happens in Africa and Asia but did you know it also happens in Europe?

And also the US?

So what can be done?
1) get educated - visit the A21 Campaign, the Greyman , Not for Sale or IOM to start to understand the insidious nature of human trafficking and how, when, where and why it happens
2) get political - write to your local, state and federal representatives to put political pressure and resources into policing and prosecuting as well as resourcing for rescue and rehabilitation
3) put your money where your mouth is - provide funding for the groups mentioned above and also buy free trade products that pay a fair days pay to workers and don't use child labour
4) think about prevention - many of the children are sold or lured in by the promise of a better life. Child sponsorship through Compassion or World Vision helps provide children out of the trap of poverty and vulnerability that makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
5) Pray - pushing back the darkness of this world is a spiritual as well as physical activity. One does not replace the other but done in conjunction -it achieves much.

Just don't bury your head in the sand. It has to STOP *

*STOP - Stop Trafficking Of People

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tents for the Homeless Pt 2

I am happy to say that my husband's little initiative to raise some money to buy tents and sleeping bags for the homeless in Sydney's Woolloomooloo area has really taken off. He's raised over $1000 USD through Chip In as well as gathering a boot load of tents and sleeping bags from friends who have donated "in kind". The money is still coming in as others find out about it - but he spent the $1000 last weekend buying 16 sets of tents and -5 degree sleeping bags. It has been really cold in Sydney this week due to a air pressure system coming up from the Antartic - so those extra warm sleeping bags are going to come in handy. This is what he was originally confronted with.
You can see more pics and read about it some more here.

and this clip on YouTube shows the type of tents we bought - little two man jobs that can go up and be taken down quickly. The police turn a bit of a blind eye to the tents so long as they are down by early morning when the rest of the city turns up for work. So next time you see a homeless person - why not wordlessly buy them something to eat or a cup of coffee.
In the meantime, I'd seen this book on someone else's blog - turns out my friend Dale had just finished reading it and has lent it to me. It's a great easy read and a powerful story. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And the winner is ......

Deb! Random Number generator came up with #2 - so Deb wins the prize.
Congratulations Deb - I hope you make lots of them!
Now I am off to check the new Sewn website which launched today!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Crude, Rude and Vulgar

But this just made me pee my pants laughing!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Little Oops

Thanks to all those who have commented on the Sewn post for a chance to win - I've just made a small update because as I read the comment I realised I'd left off a very important word - PATTERN! You are entering to win a pattern - not the pincushions and needle cover itself.

Sorry about that folks!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sewn - free giveaway

Sarah Fielke has a great blog called The Last Piece. She previously co-owned Material Obsession at Hunters Hill here in Sydney but quit that at the end of last year. She is now the creative director of Sewn - a new website venture which is launching next Monday (June 8). There is a big virtual Launch Party with lots of different blogs joining in and offering giveaways. You can check out the different blogs and their respective giveaways here.
I've decided to join in the fun and lead all those quilters and other sewing chicks into the wonderful world of cloth dolls. You can join in too - just post a comment below before June 8 to go into the draw to win (drum roll please......)
Patti Culea's Little Star Pincushion and Needle cover pattern! To enter just leave a comment below by June 8th and I will draw a winner. Too easy!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Barbara Willis's new book

Barbara Willis is one of the premier cloth doll makers and also a very lovely person. I've not had the pleasure of doing a class with her but I have met her and chatted to her at length at different shows over the years and many of my friends have done classes with her and loved the whole experience. Barbara is in Australia at the moment on a teaching tour - I would so have loved to have joined in the fun. My problem would be deciding which class to do.... There's this one called The Collector This one called Lillith

This one called Box of Memories

And - oh my giddy aunt - this one which is a mermaid journal

I have seen many of Barbara's dolls in real life and, let me tell you, as gorgeous as this eye-candy is - you have to see it in the flesh to get how rich and lush and layered and fantastabulous it all is. Barbara came to cloth dolls from the porcelain doll world and all of that experience informs her dolls from the daintiness of their poses to the use of silk and taffetta in dressing them along with exquisite accessories.

I will be ordering her new book from Amazon. I think I will need to laminate every page though so I can wipe off the drool easily.

Scarves for Bushfire Victims

I belong to many online groups (mostly through Yahoo). Jan Macfayden belongs to one such group. Jan was on Channel 9 last week because she is co-ordinating a large distribution of quilts to Victorian Bushfire victims. Many, many people have donated quilts, fabric, blocks, backing fabric and so on to the cause, a quilt being a nice warm cuddle for people who have lost everything or who are so traumatised by what they have seen and heard. So when Jan mentioned that a scarf or beanie would be appreciated as it's getting pretty cold down there, the backlash from some quarters was - well - suprising in a rather disappointing way. The worst comment was this, "'People in Kinglake can afford to buy a hat and a scarf, I believe more than half of the bushfire appeal money has been given out. Also I believe that everyone who has lost their home has been assigned a case manager to work with them to help them. They would surely be able to organise some funds or vouchers to enable them to buy items needed. Unfortunately there are people who don't want anything that isn't handed to them on a silver platter or free."
Well Jan has posted a response on her blog which basically outlines the reality of the situation - but is it really that difficult to imagine that people who have been through such a dreadful experience might be suffering from stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, a sense of hopelessness and despair, depression and so on and are struggling with all sorts of stuff?
The theoretical assignation of a case worker does not mean that you have an one-on-one, 24/7 personal assistant to help get your life back together. Anyone who has ever had to contend with our woefully inadequate and underfunded social security system on behalf of themselves or another person will know how slow moving and time consuming it can be.
Even typing this makes me cranky. I just hope the silly woman who wrote this never has to experience the total loss and devestation that those in Kinglake and other areas have.
I for one was excited to know that all that wool I bought in a end of winter, "gosh aren't they fabulous and wow so cheap!" frenzy will find a home around the neck of someone who needs a little bit of a cheering up present.
So here are some I prepared earlier - for such a time as this.......