Okay, guys....I'm SUPER excited about today's post.
As many of you already know, January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. For the past year or so, the more I learned about human trafficking and anti-trafficking efforts, I kept coming back to one thing - PREVENTION. What if we were able to reach our community's most vulnerable and at-risk girls BEFORE the pimps and traffickers? What if we were able to equip them and impart meaning and value into their lives BEFORE someone tried to exploit them?
The work that our cherished partner, Gems Uncovered, does is truly beyond incredible. They go into the darkest parts of our society and journey with ladies who have literally been through hell. The work the do is SO necessary and I believe in their staff and programming 100%. It is one of the most worthy causes that I have ever had the privilege of supporting. The spectrum, however, is greater. The big picture includes increased prevention measures - and I want to support that as well. Right now, in the current fight against modern-day slavery, prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation all go hand in hand.
This is why I am SO excited to introduce UNCVRD Jewelry's newest partner organization, Brave Global. I have had the privilege of seeing the work that Brave does first-hand and let me tell you - it is nothing short of amazing. They are all about investing into the lives of at-risk girls (many that come from the foster care system) to help prevent them from being exploited. I had a chance to interview Brave's CEO, Miley Waterman, and she gave us all of the info on who they are and where they are headed.
To celebrate Human Trafficking awareness month, UNCVRD will be donating one Brave Global Journal for every purchase. (Miley shares all about what the journal is and how it will impact the lives of the young ladies they serve!) Lastly, to celebrate this new partnership, we're offering FREE SHIPPING ALL MONTH with the code 'BRAVEGLOBAL'.
I invite you to partner with us in this new endeavor to reach our goal of donating 30 Journals this month. At the end of the month, we'll randomly select one customer to win their own copy of a Brave Global Journal with a personalized thank you from Miley!
Now, without further ado - my interview with Brave Global's CEO, Miley Waterman.
How did BRAVE Global start?
Before it was “BRAVE Global,” the BRAVE movement began 4 years ago when it was birthed out of my home church - 7th Street Church - here in Long Beach, CA. A dear friend of mine and a warrior for our City began to understand the epidemic we now know as sex trafficking. She approached our pastor and implored us to respond to this statistic: 80% of girls rescued from human trafficking are from the foster care system. Isn’t that staggering? We decided that together we would create a space to welcome these vulnerable youth to come into contact with a message of hope & empowerment that could be the preventative tool they need to survive their circumstances. Why not get to them with this type of message BEFORE the pimps and perpetrators begin preying on them and exploiting them?
Since then, every year we have held a young women’s empowerment conference, now known as BRAVE. God allowed for this conference to gain exposure and in just a short time, we were asked by several other churches if we could coach them through what it would look like to hold their own BRAVE conference. Leaders at these pioneering churches understood what we now know to be true: Trafficking is an issue that unfortunately plagues each and every area, demographic & socioeconomic group. Trafficking does not discriminate. Neither should the response to it. I am proud to say that there has been an overwhelming response and in just the last two years alone, a BRAVE Youth Empowerment Conference has taken place in Seattle, Orange County, Phoenix & even internationally in Russia.
So what did we do? We officially went global! Just before Christmas we became a recognized 501c3 non-profit corporation... BRAVE Global. We exist to educate and empower the local church to reach at-risk young girls in order to stop human trafficking and exploitation.
What is your role at BRAVE Global?
My role is President/CEO of BRAVE Global. I am working with an incredible launch team of women whose hearts bleed for these youth and who seek to bring freedom and restoration to their lives, no matter what it takes.
What does a BRAVE conference look like?
A BRAVE conference is a day of hope, motivation, learning, empowerment and just plain FUN for the girls. The host team works for months ahead of time planning and preparing. The biggest part of this effort is initiating and nurturing relationships with the local foster care system, probation system, school districts and other child welfare agencies in order to get them to invite their youth.
On the big day, the girls are welcomed into an energetic, friendly and lighthearted atmosphere where they are met by loving volunteers who serve them and hang out with them all day. There is delicious food, desserts and fun activities including photo opportunities, crafts and dance parties! During the general session(s), we have a band and singers, inspiring spoken word poets & dance performances, to name a few things. Last year one of the churches had a self defense presentation, another one had Wonder Woman’s stunt double and another church had a female archery expert & exotic bird trainer! She brought a real live falcon to the event - it was amazing and the girls loved it.
Finally, and most importantly, there is a keynote speaker who delivers a message to inspire and empower each girl to understand that they have value and purpose, and to assure them that they are not ever the problem – they are in fact the solution! They are BRAVE and they have the authority and the power to say “I don’t receive that” to anyone who ever tries to exploit, harm or disrespect them. You should see each of these young women digesting this message of freedom and well after the event, we continue to hear feedback from their caregivers about how it affected them in the most positive way. Here are a couple of quotes from caregivers who brought their girls:
Tell us about the BRAVE journal and why you feel it will help girls navigate through this season of life?
The BRAVE Journal is a 12-part journal/ workbook that allows BRAVE to be a part of these girls’ lives well beyond the event day. It is full of valuable lessons, quotes from prominent figures and activities that can be done in a small group home setting or on one’s own. The journal is meant to encourage, educate and even give some practical tips that are useful while growing up as a teen (how to fry an egg, for example). Each attendee receives a journal as a takeaway gift – BRAVE Global’s way of committing to taking this journey of life alongside them. Many of these girls – especially if they are from the foster care system - are not likely to have access to or be exposed to tools like this that they can take with them and continue learning. Some of these girls bounce from group home to group home as often as every 30-60 days. Can you imagine? It is a priority of ours to continue to encourage them and sustain a relationship with them any way we can, even through this takeaway.
Why is BRAVE Global such a necessity in the fight against human trafficking/ modern day slavery?
First, I will say that any group or organization seeking to empower those who are most vulnerable or who have been exploited is an absolute necessity to this fight. There are so many amazing efforts taking place right now, not only rescue and rehabilitate those who have been trafficked, but to educate and empower at-risk youth as a preventative measure. This is what BRAVE Global seeks to do: Prevent. To reach young girls before they are reached by anyone who would try to exploit them or enslave them. We believe this is the key to them realizing their potential, unlocking the key to their future, and to living a life of freedom.
How can people get involved?
There are a few ways to get involved with BRAVE Global. If you pray, pray for us! For our leadership and this first launch year as we cast vision and come up with strategy to make our efforts as fruitful as possible. Pray for the youth who will be reached through these efforts.
Second, if you are an organization or church who is interested in either holding your own BRAVE Conference or partnering with another church on theirs, we would love to coach or connect you!
And finally… we cannot do what we are setting out to do without funds from generous partners. It takes time, planning, designing, creativity and a lot of manpower to accomplish what we are setting out to do. Any and all proceeds given are tax deductible and will 100% go toward the development of these conferences, the materials and the people who will leave a mark on these young girls’ lives, changing the trajectory of their journey in a huge way.