Book Reviews

Be The Change

Be The Change, by Zach Hunter, is all about helping people to get involved with ending trafficking. Zach is particularly inspiring because he is a teenager – and a teenage boy at that. He just proves that one can be concerned about the plight of human trafficking and sexual slavery at any age; and that this is not a gender issue but one of compassion.

At the age of twelve, Zach was studying slavery in the United States during Black History Month when he learned that there are more slaves today than ever before. Shocked by this reality, he began the Loose Change to Loosen Chains Campaign. He was able to inspire teachers, parents and students alike to donate their loose change, profiting over $8,000 in the first year. He then handed this over to IJM (International Justice Mission). Encouraged by his success, he continued to push his campaign, garnering support all over the United States. There are now hundreds of student groups involved in LC2LC, and Zach speaks to hundreds of thousands of people on this issue.

The book is written in a teen style, which is appropriate for a teen writer and audience. He talks about his story, ways to fight, and what you can do to help. He inspires the reader to do their part with what they can do, and not what they are incapable of doing. He is practical and his ideas concrete. If you have a teenager in the house – or you are a teen, make sure to grab a copy.

Zach is also the author of Lose your Cool, Chivalry and Generation Change.

They Call Me Dad | Phillip Cameron

“They are just orphans, nobodies.” Moldovan official.

“Have you ever seen a baby freeze to death?” This question shook Philip Cameron into a horrible reality as he viewed an orphanage for the first time in Moldova. It was only early December and already sixteen children had frozen to death in the orphanage. Certainly Moldova was poor, but the children were dying for a much different reason: they were the dregs of society. They were worthless orphans.

In his book They Call Me Dad, Philip Cameron writes his story of how he began to help transform the lives of orphans across Romania and Moldova. At first he was a reluctant “child” fulfilling the wish of his distraught father. As he began to see the need, he went from reluctant to passionate. Over the course of his ongoing journey, he adopted a son Andrew from Romania, and finally ended up being a dad to orphans in Moldova when everyone else refused to care.

Cameron takes us through both a personal journey, and a global one. Like many societies, orphans are considered the least of the least in Moldova. They are abused and rejected by their families, ignored by their government, scorned by their society, and preyed upon by human traffickers. In Moldova, the age for orphans to be removed from the institutions is sixteen – a fact that almost seals their fate.

In They Call Me Dad, Cameron unfolds how orphans are the world’s biggest targets for slave drivers looking for a lucrative exchange. In Moldova, they often work hand in hand with the orphanage directors, promising large returns for fresh girls. The criminals can be almost completely reassured of encountering no resistance from the girls or their families. Likewise, greasing palms ensures there is little to no resistance from government or civil officials.

Knowing what horror awaited “his” children, Cameron undertook a major project to create transition homes for those being expulsed from the orphanages. The project was not easy. Philip writes: “It’s almost impossible to raise money to help teenagers; countless other nonprofits and ministries have tried, but the assumption is that teens are old enough to take are of themselves.”

In spite of massive resistance and obstacles from government officials and donors, the Cameron family still maintains four transition homes in Moldova, giving hope to many children whose fates would truly be worse than death. The teens remain in school and get the education they need to live, be productive members of society, help others, and of course escape the atrocity of slavery.

review written by Rachael Williams-Mejri

Available to purchase on Amazon

review taken from Volume 1 Issue 4 Grace As Justice magazine 

Learn more about The Orphans Hands

Slave | Mende Nazer

Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis recounts the life of a young Nuba woman from the mountains of Sudan. The book begins Nazer’s life story in the Nuba mountains where everything appears to be comfortable and pleasant. She goes to school, is the baby of a doting family, and is busy enjoying her extended family and friends. While there are some ugly setbacks in her life including an incredibly painful circumcision, she is largely happy. Nazer gives a thorough description of her life as a child. The reader has an incredible look into a largely remote area and people. She describes not only her childhood, but also the way of life this nation lives out even today. Nazer does not permit the outsider to view her or her people as a primitive group, but as a complex people who love and cherish their children, extended family and friends as much as any other people. Additionally, she talks of dress and fun activities and relations between her people-nation and others. Not everything is beautiful, as she explains when relating her experience with circumcision, and some painful occurrences due to the birth of her sister’s first child. This small world is completely destroyed when Arab raiders arrive in her village and burn it to the ground, rounding up all the children they find. After being kidnapped, and experiencing an attempted rape, Nazer is then delivered to slave traders who sell her to a woman teetering between momentary sanity and extreme violence. Her life as a slave begins at the age of either twelve or thirteen – ages being largely unknown among her people. Due to her young age, lack of education and naivety, she is easily bound to her owner and never seeks escape. She keeps hoping she might one day see her family, but is uncertain if they are even alive after the village raid. Nazer is finally sent to England to live and work for her owner’s sister. She finds out later that she is working for a Sudanese ambassador. Slave is an interesting book full of both laughter and horror. Among the moments of incredible violence that sometimes leave her in the hospital, Nazer also makes the reader laugh with her discovery of certain commodities like running water. The book reads much like a novel, but with the tension that this is in fact an autobiography. It is a page-turner, so the reader should be prepared not to set it down. Moreover, it shows the insidiousness of human trafficking; how it is not only a “third world” problem; how it infiltrates the homes of those sworn to protect; and why traffickers prefer children.

written by Rachael Williams-Mejri

Available to purchase from Amazon

review taken from Volume 1 Issue 1 Grace As Justice Magazine

Turning Point | Eric N. Supen

Turning Point, by Eric N. Supen, is written to encourage people to think of ways they can righteously, practically and creatively make a difference, by joining forces with others– government, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, the media, security forces, etc., to fight injustice and offer solutions to some of the challenges impacting lives, children, families, society, nations and the world. Some of the challenges include but are not limited to, human trafficking, genocide, discrimination, robbery, religious war, corruption, sexual assault, oppressive leadership, terrorism, gender inequality, poverty, and war.

In the book preview, Eric shares a personal story he experienced with armed robbers. This story gives the reader an up close and personal view of Eric’s experience with the armed robbers. Consequently, the reader will find himself wishing to be a part of the solution to end the culture of individuals who kill, steal and destroy.

Eric writes on short transformational stories that combine fiction and real-life events. This is the first volume of many more stories to come. Included are the fictitious story of Adebola’s and his narrow escape from human trafficking as he discovered his life purpose as a social reformer. There is also the true story of Pappy; his escape from rebel recruitment; his life on the streets; and his turning point in making a difference using the medium of short stories and film production.

The author captures the reader’s imagination with an artistic blend of African folklore, real-life social issues negatively shaping cultures and transformational stories of hope, redemption and purpose. Eric’s style of writing challenges people to somehow get involved in being an answer to some of the crises negatively impacting people all over the world.

A jewel of his book, is the “Heart to Heart: Author’s Note,” at the end. It paints a picture of hope and challenges and encourages and inspires the reader to believe change is possible. He gives simple and practical suggestions of how people can begin to make a difference and encourages people to look for opportunities to connect, network, volunteer and work together with organizations already making a difference.

Where Were You? | Matthew S. Friedman

“Where Were You?” A Profile of Modern Slavery by Matthew S. Friedman

…there are 7 million new slaves each year, 19,200 per day, 800 an hour, or 1 every 5 seconds.
Matthew Friedman,  Where Were You?

“Where Were You?” A Profile of Modern Slavery by Matthew S. Friedman, is a short text that has appeal for both the beginner and the veteran abolitionist. The theme of the book is really that of Friedman’s personal experience as a counter trafficking agent over the past few decades. In making himself transparent, he presents a realistic view of both the victim and the abolitionist.

He begins his story not as someone in the counter trafficking field, but as a public health officer whose research placed in atrocious locations and opened his yes to the reality of sex work in Mumbai. What he saw broke his heart, particularly when he was unable to save a desperate child after she begged him for his help. One of the many turning points in his life was when a young girl name Gita furiously asked him and his companions: “Where were you?”

After recounting how he came about as a full time counter trafficking agent, the text shifts from discovery of the problem to the discovery of how to deal with human nature and inspire people to accept the issue and then fight it. One issue many abolitionists face is the real lack of understanding and even the interest of others on this topic that so passionately moves them. He not only experienced this as a USAID worker, but also when he worked for the U.N. Battling apathy and office politics became as difficult as battling traffickers.

Some of the statistics can make one nauseated, or at the very least cringe. For instance, he states that slavery revenues hover around $150 billion, while donor contributions add up to around $350 million – not even half a percent of the 150. Additionally, potato chip sales in the U.S. add up to around $6 billion annually. Need more be said?

Knowing that something other than what was being done needed to be addressed, Friedman began the Mekong Club to help companies understand the problem and take action to end it.

But Friedman doesn’t stop there. He asks the question if we are losing the fight, and then lists things different entities can do from the private sector to you and I. Recognizing that legal slavery came to an end in the U.S. and Europe due to public momentum, he emphasizes the need for each person to join the fight. People need to move from being passive and almost involved, content to observe life rather than to live it, to being active in whatever way we can be. He offers some baby steps and sound advice to those willing to take on their responsibility as world citizens.

Finally, there are two additional things I appreciated about Friedman’s writing. The first was that he offers insights with situations and lessons to be learned from them. Second, he shows what has worked for him to help break down barriers and build relationships among people. Personally, I think this is useful even for veterans because we can all use relationship building suggestions and tips.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I felt the author’s transparency was very inspiring in that one can identify with him as a person instead of looking on at superman and not being able to imagine oneself doing anything to help end this atrocity. Additionally, the suggestions he gives are subtle but powerful when thought upon. The baby steps are excellent for beginners, and the lessons help the veteran identify and connect at a deeper level.

I believe much of what Friedman wrote corresponds to what we believe at Grace As Justice Magazine, where we believe each person should do what is in her hand – no matter how small or large she thinks that might be.

“A few thousand development workers worldwide, despite heroic efforts, cannot solve slavery. It won’t go away until world citizens accept this issue as its own and address the problem…We [all] must use individual talents to fight slavery.” – Matthiew Friedman, “Where Were You?”

written by Rachael Williams-Mejri