Monday, January 24, 2011

The Candy Shop

The Candy Shop Trailer from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

The Candy Shop is about 30 minutes in length, and tells the story of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution through fantastical imagery and metaphor. Set in the dirty thirties, a boy notices that an evil man is snatching girls off the street and transforming them into lollipops for sale at his candy store. The storyline is complemented by creative costumes and a nostalgic set.

I have seen plenty of films about sex trafficking, and I have to say this is one of my new favourites. Most films and books are from the point of view of the victim of trafficking or the john making a purchase, but the Candy Shop shows us the process of manipulation that experienced traffickers use to lure young boys into the business of selling flesh.

I cannot even imagine the whirlwind of thoughts running through these young boys’ minds when they are presented with the chance to run such a business.

Opportunity. Money. Fear. Temptation. Seduction. Pride. Power. Doubt.

More than anything, this film reminded me that boys need role models. Though many traffickers are downright greedy and have no regard for human life, others are just a product of the pressures they face and the manipulation they’ve endured.

Whitestone Motion Pictures has done a fantastic job with this film, from beginning to end!

(Taken from the Hope For the Sold Blog:

Behind the Scenes - Production Week 1 from Whitestone Protege Program on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Documentary - Our Lives to Fight For

Final Version from M on Vimeo.

A new documentary called “Our Lives to Fight For” exposes the harsh truths about prostitution and sex trafficking in Canada.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Photo Blog of the Delilah Story

(beginning of the structure)

(Painting the walls)

(Outline drawing for outer wall painting)

Artist: Stephanie Webb

(Spiral downward - Need to be prettier. Need to be slimmer. Need to be better. Need to be smarter. Need to be more successfull. Need to ESCAPE.)

(The day arrives! We have setup on the sidewalk directly infront of Kiev City Hall)

(Entrance to The Delilah Story - the cycle of slavery)

(Abuse - Verbal, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The end of innocence. Her identity lost.)

(Sculputure by Joan Kim)

(Painting by Pearl Sangster)

(Control - Abuse is an outward manifestation of inner pain.)

(Hardening - Numbing the pain. Masking the wounds. Only the strong survive.)

(Abuse and Confusion - The unraveling of the man's childhood tainted with abuse and confusion. His conflicting ideas of love based on the father figure in his life.)


Every child is born innocent. A daddy's girl, a mommy's boy. With dreams of a bright and beautiful future. This is Delilah's story.

(Exit view and comment wall view)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Delilah Project

Well the weekend has come and gone. After two weeks of intense work, we finally completed the Delilah Project (as we titled it, the name we use for one of the girls we came to love in Albania) at 10pm on Friday night and delivered it to downtown central Kyiv at noon the next day.

The weekend was amazing and a great success. We spoke to roughly 400 people the first day and in total, nearly 1000 people came through our structure.

Before I go more into the weekend, however, I want to back up just a little to tell you about the miracle that occurred a couple days before. Since the beginning, when we first came up with the idea for the art installation, we inquired about needing a permit. At first we were told no, but that soon began to change to a possible maybe and yeah you probably do. A couple people suggested to try and do it without a permit because it takes nearly a month to get a permit and at this point, with only a week left to go, it seemed like an impossible task.

So on the Thursday, Sue, Bekki and Wouter headed into the centre for some souvenier shopping time, as well with the intent of connecting with police officials to somehow get permission and their okay for our structure. They went into the police station and were directed to city hall, where all permits are issued. It took a while for them to find someone who spoke english.
They explained what we were doing and the lady who worked there said that if they wrote up a letter and got it back to her before closing at 6 p.m., she would sign and stamp the permit herself, right then and there. On top of it, when she asked where we were planning on setting it up, in response to the unknown, she encouraged to set up the structure right out front of city hall! How amazing!!! God is so amazing! It was evident that this project had Gods anointing on it and this was meant to happen. Here we are in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a hotspot in Easter Europe for human trafficking and they've told us that we can do our awareness campaign right outside city hall!
But why not? Earlier in the week, during the YWAM base Monday morning intercession, this exact thing was prayed for - that the city itself would back up this project! God is so good!

So back to how the actual weekend went.

Transportation ended up working out, which was another huge prayer request. We had two different vans set up, one for each day. The first van was from our contacts church and the other from the YWAM base. Thankfully everything fit inside.

About an hour after arriving and beginning our setup, the police arrived and stuck around for the next hour and a half. We showed them our permit but at first that wasn't good enough. Sue ended up having to go with them to get a photocopy of it as they wanted to take our permit but it was our only copy. It wasn't until Kelly (our main contact) showed up with his family and began speaking with them about how we are only helping the officials out, working beside them for the good of the people, etc., etc., that they finally left. We found out later that there was a demonstration/protest planned for 6:30 p.m. on the Sunday, that they were worried about and thought we were a part of it (it actually ended up being a protest against family violence! How fitting).

As we continued to set up, curiosity quickly set in amongst those walking by and though we were not complete for sometime, people were already checking out and walking through what was ready. We had many positive comments and feedback and as to be expected but still sad, a few negative ones (this is not my problem, this doesn't effect me, etc). A number of our walls along the side of the structure, were set up to be comment walls and we had many people leave their comments. At times you noticed as they excited, tears welling up in their eyes. There were a number of emotional stories, though we will never know just how many who walked through were actually walking through their own life story, a few stopped to share. On the Sunday, one of the first women to go through, became very emotional, sharing with our translator that she knew this all too well, having grown up in the city's orphanage - the abuse, friends trafficked as they turn 18 and have no where to go but to trust the men that our outside waiting, promising good things. It was obvious she had much pain to deal with and the two of them exchanged numbers to talk again.

Some were offended that outsiders would come in and tell them what was wrong with their country (or so they perceived it to be) and others were amazed that foreigners would actually come and share of their time to help their country out, to spread awareness of this great problem. Often at the end, whenever there was opportunity, we would ask if the person had known about the issue of human trafficking, and often the answer is no. Even the ones that do still don't often realize the extent of it or that they themselves could easily fall victim to enslavement (as there are many kinds).

As a group, our prayer is that all those that had the chance to come through the Delilah Project, will feel a stirring in their hearts, a movement, a call to action, a need to know more and that the awareness can continue to spread in this city and that they will also begin to realize that the women they view as just prostitutes or druggies, really didn't have the choice that we like to believe they do, that there is a story behind the mask of every women, man and child and that in this day more than ever love is needed for all, but more specifically - God's love.


On another note, when we arrived home we were met with shocking news that at first left us with many emotions and tears. We received an email from Julie in Pogredec, that Xhulio, the boy we had all grown to love so very much, had passed away that very morning. It was heartbreaking to hear that his smile would no longer be witnessed here on earth but at the same time, through tears, I think about the wonderful fact that he is now in heaven experiencing the most amount of love he could ever know from our heavenly father and running around on his beautiful legs that work. I'm so happy that he no longer has to suffer and be ill-treated within his own family but I pray for the three young sisters, who we also got to know, that are now left behind. Please keep them in your prayers as well as our group, through the many emotions that we are dealing with.

Thank you.

Installation Art Project Blue Print

Below is the blue print of the Delilah structure. I hope to add an entire blog of pictures shortly and possibly even a video that shows a walk through so that you will be able to have the full experience of what those here in Kyiv have had the opportunity to experience.

Installation Art Project :
Creating an interactive installation art to be on display in a public space in order to raise awareness on the issue of sexual slavery.

Objective ::

To unveil the unseen reality of sexual slavery* through the journey of not only the female sex worker but also the journey of the male perpetrator, highlighting the fact that they are both victims of an unending cycle.

*Sexual slavery defines all instances of sexual servitude, whether by choice or by coercion.

Aim ::

For users to walk away with their eyes opened towards the unseen reality they encounter on a daily basis so much so that they will be unable to ignore the blatant sexualization and devaluing of females in society.

Project Specifications ::
Here is the initial blue print we came up with for The Delilah Project

Size – 7m x 7m
Materials – Plywood or Dry wall (1.5m x 2.5m each)

Project Breakdown ::
The project will be broken down into 7 sections as follows;
1.Innocence (of a young girl)
2.Abuse and sexualization
3.Victimization and choice
4.Slavery vs power
6.Abuse and confusion
7.Innocence (of a young boy)

The first 3 sections will potray the journey of a young girl into sexual slavery whilst the last 3 unravel the confusion behind the male pepertrator. Section 4 intersects with the culmination of both journies as the two lives converge.

Each section will be labelled with a sheet on the floor and partitioned off by a curtain of some sort.

Section 1 :: Innocence (of a young girl)
This section potrays the innocence of a young girl, her dreams and fantasies as a child about meeting her prince charming, the purity of youth and the hopes of what the future holds.

(Narrative Wall)
Every child is born innocent. A daddy's girl, a mommy's boy. With dreams of a bright and beautiful future. This is Delilah's story.
When I grow up…

(Quotes on Wall)
When will my Prince Charming come?
I am beautiful?

Section 2 :: Abuse and Sexualization

Potrays the abuse that happens at a young age and the exposure to sexual material, warping the ideals and sense of worth of females.

(Narrative Wall)
Verbal, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The end of innocence. Her identity lost.

(Quotes on Wall)
This must be my fault.
Did I do something wrong?
Is this who I am?

Section 3 – Sexualization

What is a woman? What is her worth?

(Narrative Wall)
Need to be better. Need to be smarter. Need to be prettier. Need to be slimmer. Need to be successful. Need to escape

Section 4 – Escape

Potraying the desire to escape from the abuse (and the cycle) and taking the risk to pursue an education and/or job opportunity but ultimately ending up in sexual slavery. Emphasizing the question “Is it ever a choice to sell oneself?”

(Narrative Wall)
What is your choice?

(Quotes on Wall)
My Way Out (exit)
Career (work/ job)

A great job. A unique opportunity abroad. They promise lots of money. But they take away your passport . And they sell you into slavery.

A handsome husband. What a charming man. He says he loves you. But he lies. And he sells you into slavery.

Good education. A bright future. But the costs are high. The circumstances don’t allow. You have no choice. And you sell yourself into slavery.

Is there really a choice?

Section 5 :: Slavery and Power

The intersection of two lives, one as the victim and the other as the abuser. Potrays the contrast of power, control and submission.

(Narrative Wall)
75% of sex workers attempt suicide

Section 5a – Slavery

(Narrative Wall)
10,000 Ukrainians have been trafficked abroad since 1991 – International Organization of Migration (IOM)

Section 5b – Control

(Narrative Wall)
Abuse is an outward manifestation of inner pain

(Quotes on Wall)
I beat her into obedience, until I get my money’s worth

Section 5 :: Harderning

Shows the hardening process of the man, and how he becomes the person that he never wanted to become but surcumbed to in order to survive.

(Narrative Wall)
Numbing the pain. Masking the wounds. Only the strong survive.

(Quotes on Wall)
I Don't Care. Why Me? My life is worthless. I give up. I can't do this. I feel numb

Section 6 :: Abuse and Confusion

The unraveling of the man's childhood tainted with abuse and confusion. His conflicting ideas of love based on the father figure in his life.

(Narrative Wall)
Statistics prove that boys growing up in abusive homes are more likely to also become abusive.

(Quotes on Wall)
Mommy and daddy love each other
I will never be like him

Section 7 :: Innocence (of a young boy)

Encountering the innocence of young boys, their dreams and hopes and their love for their mother. Drives in the fact that even the pepertrators are victims themselves.

(Narrative Wall)
Every child is born innocent. A daddy's girl, a mommy's boy. With dreams of a bright and beautiful future. This is Delilah's story.

(Quotes on Wall)
I love you mommy
I want to be strong so I can take care of Mommy

(Outer walls)
Who is Delilah?

It could be your sister, your mother, your child, your friend, your neighbour. It could be you.
Ukraine provides one of the largest supply of slaves in Eastern Europe. The youngest rescued victim is 3, the oldest is 74 - IOM

An estimated 27 million people are currently enslaved worldwide. 88% of that are women and children.

1 million children are forced into sexual slavery each year

2 children are sold every minute

JAMM in Kyiv

(Please note this is a past blog update by fellow leader Sue, written a couple weeks back).

We made it to Kiev last Friday, July 7 and got settled into our apartments. Sorry for the lack of update. Internet cafes aren't cheap.

Though our hearts are still broken for the kids in Albania, we're pressing through and channeling that energy into our work in Ukraine. While we're here we'll be doing everything in our power to make an impact on the counter-trafficking movement in Ukraine. We're gathering all the information we can, interviewing people every chance we get, and brainstorming like crazy hoping to pull it all together in some sort of documentary and installation art piece.

Here is our vision:

We have no idea what this portion of the outreach will be like
For Sure it will be different from the first half
But in many ways also the same
In Pogradec we learned.
We learned way more than most of us wanted to know
We learned way more than most of us know what to do with.

We are a Justice Arts Media and Music DTS
All of us have expressed, in some way, the desire to tell a story through our gifts
And we all have gifts.
This may be the most gifted team that has come through I.Net

We have packed into our minds the tragic, yet somehow hopeful stories of 30 some kids that we all have fallen in love with
Stories that, I believe, have determined in some way, the destiny of each of our lives

Let’s begin to tell their stories using our God given inspiration.

I fell strongly that Ukraine will be the time that we step into our JAMM title more fully

In Pogradec, we had Judy to bring us into the story of the kids and give us incredible insight into their unjust realities
Her we will mostly have ourselves
This will call for an extra measure of iniative and boldness to step into the dark places
To ask the hard questions in order to gain insight into the story of trafficking in Ukraine

This is why we came
It’s our Go given responsibility to tell the story
I am thinking Victor Malarek style

We have Emma, Bekki who edit video
Steph and Audrey who are gifted in multimedia and graphic design
Kate, Janet and Kyle who take emotion capturing photos that tell a story of their own
We have Ben who is a gifted writer
The Dutchies who have a unique boldness about them that make it easier to meet the right people
I am learning the art of asking the right questions to find out the necessary info to tell a story
Lizzy tells stories through her songwriting
Pearl just needs a canvas to portray beauty through the brokenness of a victim
Joan can articulate in great detail with her sketches of people and places
Christina will bring a prophetic edge to whatever message we have
And all of us have proven that we have nothing for hope for the oppressed

Perhaps this month can be about focusing on how to best tell the stories
The stories of Gino and Demir and Dezi
And the stories we will seek out here

The stories of real names
Real faces
Real people whose lives are the injustices we read in books

Let’s live up to our JAMM name and tell the story of God’s justice as we’ve found it in Eastern Europe
We never know far it might travel and what ears might hear it

We will knock on the doors of NGO’s, orphanages, police stations, night clubs, brothels in order to find out what we need to know

It’s our chance to be part of their hope

So let’s disrupt the rhythym of evil here in Kyiv so that imagination can breathe!

(written by Sue V.).

"I have many people in this city."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

These are the days of ACTS in Kyiv

It’s been well over a week now since we arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine and it’s been quite the time again. Unsure at first, exactly what we would be doing in this new location then discovering God had much planned and ready for us here. Our few contacts resulted in more contacts and many more ideas.

Instantly recognizing the intensity of sexualization of women in this city and knowing that Ukraine has a high trafficking rate we found ourselves surrounded and in the middle, identifying the many connections between this issue, alcohol and drug usage and the fact that Ukraine has the fastest growing infection rate for HIV.

One of the outreach ministries that we are connected to here is with Teen Challenge. Every Tuesday they go out, first to a Methadone Clinic (well, outside the clinic, as they are not allowed in) and then to the main train station for the purpose of building relationships, providing of limited medical care and handing out invites to addicts and the homeless for a coffee house Teen Challenge puts on the following night. The purpose of the coffee house is to share of God’s love and salvation for all and as well in hopes of helping men and women with their addiction through their own rehab centre.

We also have the opportunity to tag along with our translator and visit a women she has befriended, who has sadly contracted the virus of HIV through her lifestyle as a prostitute. She is currently 47 years old and only this year through a friend, came to accept that Gods love is for her as well. She recognizes that it is only through God’s strength that she has been able to quit many of her habits, including selling of her body for money. She noted that in her past there had been many times where, if she could have, would have left this industry and stopped her addiction to drugs.

These are just a couple ministries that we are connected with here.

One of our biggest excitements, that ties everything together, is our combined vision for Kyiv and for Albania – to spread awareness of Human Trafficking. We are a group of many talents – art, design, media, photography, and music and a heart for those effected by injustice. It is our hope and plan to use all these things, to research and investigate as much as we can about this issue here in Kyiv and combine it all into a presentation to present to the people here in Kyiv and to each of our own contacts and Churches back home in our many countries.

I am so excited about what God is doing in this group, in this city and in this vision. Before arriving we were not sure how we would fill our days and now the time is flying by with our many activities and brainstorming sessions.

I’m especially excited about the idea of an instillation art design piece in the main centre of Kyiv to put on display during the final weekend we are here, as well as a final documentary of all we have learned and experienced, sharing of the many personal stories we have encountered.

We have less than 3 weeks left already and they are going to fly by. Please continue to pray for the group, for strength, courage, boldness and for patience. Pray for open doors and please pray for a blanket of safety and protection over this group.

Til’ the next time, blessings ☺