On Day 10 I wrote about Combating Human Trafficking. After penning a few paragraphs about the problem and outlining currently available statistics, I reviewed one local organization, Free For Life International, that engages internationally to relieve the horrific issue of human slavery. I briefly quoted their Executive Director and CEO, Gabrielle Joy Thompson as to their mission and vision. What I didn’t elaborate on was that she is my eldest daughter.
As I’m nearing the end of my 100 days of giving which started in August, I will indulge in a little fatherly pride while doubling down on the charitable contributions to my favorite charity, which of course, is the one headed by my namesake.
Gabrielle often relates the story of how one Dorling Kindersley book entitled, Children Just Like Me (1995) she read while in elementary school, deeply impacted and inspired her… and set her on a course that would evolve into the position she now occupies.
The authors of the book spent two years meeting and photographing youngsters from every continent and more than 140 countries. The volume is introduced with photos of children, their names, and nationalities. Then a double-page spread features pictures of each child’s food, eating utensils, housing, school, friends, and family. The text gives the young people a chance to comment on their favorite games, friends, and hopes for the future.
Beginning at the early age of 13 and continuing throughout her undergraduate (BA Global Studies and Anthropology) and graduate studies (Master of International Affairs) at MTSU, she habitually traveled throughout the world (self-funded through working multiple jobs and winning grants) adding first-hand, practical experiences to her nascent multi-cultural interest.
Over the years, she’s become an astute leader and manager, a powerful advocate for gender empowerment, and an impassioned crusader against human trafficking. Her gentle touch and empathic manner belie the no-nonsense, fierce lioness-like protection she exhibits on behalf of survivors and against their victimizers. All said, she is one of my heroes. Always an inspiration.
Consequently, the organization she spearheads, Free For Life International, is a charity I volunteer for and give to on a regular basis. Two summers ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to accompany her on a mission to the Dominican Republic working with schools and orphanages there. Gabrielles focus was to train teachers and administrators on the use of their first-of-its-kind Prevention Curriculum she and her cohorts had developed.
Since the inaugural launch a couple years ago, a thousand leaders have been trained in Free for Life’s Innovative Prevention Approach. These leaders are typically from youth and orphan-care organizations, schools, and government agencies. As Gabrielle states, “The reason that we decided to implement the ‘train-the-trainer’ approach was realizing that it was going to be the most effective. As a small organization, we can reach out to more vulnerable children around the world by equipping people that have the heart to help their community and who directly work with youth that are in need.”
Watch the 2 minute video on their Groundbreaking Human Trafficking Prevention Curriculum.
Therefore, as I mentioned and the title indicates, I am doubling down to FFL during my 100 day charitable journey. Twice as nice. Double the Joy.
Please consider learning about and giving to Free For Life International.