How do I begin to tell my journey to be wearing a dress for 31 days in December? Compassion for the less fortunate is rooted in my childhood by the example my mother lived out in front of me. Although my full understanding of who the “less fortunate” were and what they faced each day was far from my grasp, and I feel far too slow in its arrival. When the full knowledge of human trafficking became clear, I was sadly aware of the bubble I had been living in.
I was introduced to International Justice Mission (IJM) in December of 2010 during my church’s missions’ event. The work they were doing around the world amazed me, but the fact that an organization like IJM was needed pierced my heart to the core. The knowledge that slavery existed and not simply that it existed, but that millions were enslaved was overwhelming to me. How was I so unaware of this injustice that was happening around the world? Why was this not something we all were aware of?
The more I researched human trafficking the more I became aware of how my choices created the demand for human trafficking and enabled slavery to thrive. I set out on a mission to make changes to my life that would reduce this demand. I wanted to find a way to let others know they too must make changes. How do I do this? How do I broaden my voice? How do I make others listen, or even want to listen?
In December 2012 I was reading something from IJM about someone else who wanted to join in the fight and how her journey led her to start Dressember to bring awareness. I began to research Dressember more, and the more I read the more I realized this could be the platform I was searching for. I was encouraged to find someone like Blythe Hill who had found a creative way for more women, and men, to get involved in this fight. Women wearing dresses, men wearing ties, and both standing together bringing awareness in their sphere of the world.
So, in December 2013 I put on a dress and began to raise my voice to help put an end to human trafficking. I must admit it was difficult asking for people to donate during a time budgets are stretched. Not being alone in my quest gave me courage to spread awareness, and to ask people to give what they could. I was acutely aware this simple commitment would make a difference. It would bring awareness to this atrocity, and the little money I would raise contributed to an organization that would make a difference in the lives of victims around the world.
This will be my fifth year wearing a dress and sharing facts on human trafficking. Dressember will be raising money for IJM, and eleven other organizations this year. Every year for the past two years I’ve said this will be my last. It is hard to remain diligent in this battle. It is hard to not become cynical toward people who do not give. It is hard to understand why more people do not join in this fight. I talk myself off the ledge, and realize I too once lived in a bubble. I will once again set out to pop bubbles, and if it only be two this year, two will be enough.
I pray that someday there is no need for organizations that Dressember supports. That human trafficking will just be an ugly blight on history, one that someday people cannot grasp ever existed.
Feel inspired to join the movement? Are you “In it to end it?” Read more about Dressember and join Anna’s team here.