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Walking to end slavery

1 December 2016

Walking to end slavery

This February I am undertaking a Project Futures three-day walk along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. All proceeds from the event will be donated directly to The Freedom Partnership’s Trafficking & Slavery Safe House – Australia's only refuge for victims of modern slavery. 

People often ask me, “How is it that you are still doing walks or runs to raise money for your work?” They ask me this because I have been doing these things for a while now – since 1997. And I’m continuously asking my network to support my lifelong cause of helping people who have experienced human trafficking, slavery and forced marriage. I am walking the Great Ocean Road this summer because it is a demonstration of my commitment to be the change I want to see in the world, to lead by example to do what is right, not what is easy. 

Funnily enough, it was my husband, Greg, who reminded me about this commitment. Since Project Futures announced the fundraising walk it has been in the back of my mind as something I should sign up for, as the money raised will have a significant benefit for our Safe House. I was telling him about it a few months ago saying it would be a good thing to do except I am just too busy. I have staff to manage, international conferences to attend, meetings in other states, reports to write, budgets to monitor etc.  Not to mention I have two young children that I couldn’t possibly leave for a few days – oh and the house needs painting, and my sock drawer needs rearranging! 

“Just do it,” said Greg. “I’ll do it with you. The kids can stay with my parents.” 

“We have to raise money, $2500 each,” I said, thinking he would change his mind.

“So what?” he said. “We can do that, and whatever we don’t raise we can pay ourselves. It’s a donation to the Safe House, right? Why are you even hesitating?”

This conversation with Greg made me really stop and reflect. Why do we hesitate to get involved in worthwhile causes? Why do we come up with reasons for not giving up a bit of our money, our time, our energy or ourselves to help those in need? I have found that pushing ourselves to be involved in something that is bigger than us can often be transformative and meaningful in ways we did not expect.

And what is the meaning of our involvement for the people who benefit from our engagement? As National Director of The Freedom Partnership and line manager at the Trafficking and Slavery Safe House, I can tell you the meaning is profound. It’s no exaggeration to say that the funds raised by Project Futures are enabling significant changes for survivors of slavery and exploitation who have had horrific experiences in their lives. These changes include becoming physically well, emotionally balanced, cognitively reconnected and socially linked. Our team help survivors to make meaning out of the horror so that they can move beyond those experiences and not be forever defined by them. And the long-term outcome of this support? I recently received a phone call from a former client of the Safe House who is now married, has full time work and a young child. 

“I’m happy, Jenny," she said. “I was just calling to see if you are okay and to tell you if you ever need my help you can ask me.” Profound.

Can you join me in my walk to end slavery? We are looking for 20 people to take up the challenge alongside The Freedom Partnership and Project Futures. Head to: projectfutures.com/great-ocean-walk for full details and your free info pack. Registrations close 6 December. 

You can sponsor my walk at: chuffed.org/fundraiser/great-ocean-walkJS 

By Jenny Stanger - National Manager for The Salvation Army's Freedom Partnership.

This article was first published on The Salvation Army's Freedom Partnership blog

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