Give someone a HUG!!! There's Beauty from Ashes - 2018 Wrap Up





I made the 100 miles!

And in a total surprise, out of almost nowhere generous gift, I woke up to find that someone had given the rest to finish out my $1,000 goal for Beauty for Ashes.

So amazing!

In the end,

HUG Project raised $10,765

& Beauty for Ashes raised $6,153

These funds mean full and part time workers, local workers, working with child victims and survivors.

It is beautiful to see… Beauty coming From Ashes.

I’d HUG every one of you if I could!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

See you next year : )

Together for Freedom,


"Keep Going!" - A Voice from the Other Side of the Fence (2/3rds Wrap Up)

There’s a fence on one section of a route I run.

Most days, I run by myself.  

The only voices I hear are my own thoughts and the music I listen to.

Some days, I can hear voices on the other side of the fence, but can’t make out what they’re saying.

Twice this past year as I ran by, an anonymous voice called from the other side of the fence:

“Keep going!”

I wasn’t expecting it.

Don’t know the guy.

Have no idea who he was.

It really was encouraging.

I kept going. : )

Now, even when there’s no one there, when there’s no voice calling out, “Keep going!”, I remember that voice when I run past that section of fence on my route.


So far, this Freecember,

  • We’ve crossed $10,000 raised together!

  • I’m almost, but not quite, at 100 km… (only another 64 km to go to get to 100 miles)!

Maybe you don’t, but 2/3rds in, you might feel discouraged, tired, wondering if you’re making a difference or if anyone’s noticing or if anyone cares…


I might not know exactly what you’re doing…

Or what you’re feeling…

You might not know me.

I might be on

  • the other side of the country…

  • the other side of the ocean…

  • the other side of the world…

From the other side of the fence, I’m calling out to you:

“Keep going!”

“I'm Always Beside You” (First 1/3 Wrap Up)

“I’m always beside you.” - by Ginny Coleman

“I’m always beside you.” - by Ginny Coleman

We’re 1/3rd of the way into Freecember and we’re celebrating what you’re up to!

(Kind of like the end of the first period in ice hockey 🏒 🥅, the only sport I can think of that plays three periods, and not halves or quarters.)

You’re (dr)awesome!

Ginny has been drawing like a champ, accompanied by thoughtful posts like this:

In America we might say “I’ve got your back,” but in Thai you would say something more like “I’m always beside you.” • Just because a child is “rescued,” it doesn’t end there. Each child faces a long and arduous journey to wholeness. • The word สนับสนุน (sanap-sanoon) in Thai means to support, advocate, encourage, back up, defend, reinforce... which is exactly what @hugprojectthailand does, every step of the way. •


Sitting heavy with this today. I branched out from happy pics of Thailand because I can’t stop thinking about 40+ million slaves in the world today. They are slaves for sex and porn, but also for shrimp and fish, for fashion and warehouse sales. Kids are forced into begging, sometimes even maimed or drugged to look more pitiful, then the pity money goes to their pimp. It’s in Thailand, it’s in Laos, it’s in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee too. 40 million is everywhere 💔💔💔 I thought that living here would make it easier “to do justice” or make it more accessible. And yes, it is more noticeable. But it’s easy to become comfortable and “busy” here, too. It’s also easy to get involved, no matter where you live. That’s why I’m doing this #freecember project. And why I want to support @hugprojectthailand, because it is founded by Thai, run by Thai, changing Thai systems and fighting for freedom of Thai children. Even $20 helps them provide care directly to a child recovering from the trafficking industry. Link in bio to donate 

We found these to be 💔 beautiful heartbreaking hopeful words 💜

If you’re not following her on Instagram, you can @ginnyrcoleman

(She’s got a fun one on a collaboration with HUG and Dressember here.)

End of the First Period (First 1/3 Wrap Up)

Matt’s running and raising. He’s on £165 out of £500. Exactly 1/3 of his goal for IJM UK.

I ran 7.7km yesterday, so that makes 50km down (and only 105km to go!) 1/3 there. Whew.

Founder and International Director of Chab Dai, Helen Sworn has gotten their board involved: “I’ve started my #freecember Coffee/tea-off Challenge with our board members. We’re seeing who can raise the most by donating a £1 or $1 for every cup we drink! #caffeineaddictsunite

That’s gotta be going well! Cheers ☕️ 🍵

Beauty for Ashes has raised $3,263 of $10,000, so right at 1/3. Way to go!

HUG Project has raised $5,575 of $20,000, not quite 1/3rd, but well on the way!

Finally, a huge thanks to Dorota, who has really upped the graphic design game on @freecember (Instagram and Facebook)

More like those to come. And you can grab some Freecember graphics here.


P.S. Because we’re doing things a bit differently this year to make it better for the charities (i.e. not just a single giving page in the US with a grand total - so charities can use whatever giving platform in whatever currency & they can also see at a glance exactly where they toward their goal), I may have missed some people joining in (because I don’t have their total or their giving page info).

If you’re joining in, just shoot me an email or tag @freecember on Instagram or Facebook : )

Though we aren’t physically beside one another, it’s encouraging to be in this with you, Freedom Raisers! 

The First Mile 2018 - In It With You


In It With You

Today’s the first day of Freecember 2018!

My son joined me in running the first mile of my Freecember 100 Mile Challenge.

So cool for me.

And such an encouragement to have someone doing it with me.

If you’re joining in, I’m in it with you ; )

We can all do something to help stop modern slavery and human trafficking.

We invite you to do something you can do.

Something small.

Something HUGE...

Like going for lifting 100 TONS! as @femorian and crew did in 2017. #ICYMI

Or #drawingforjustice like @ginnyrcoleman

Running 100 miles(!) like students with Just Love Durham at Durham University for IJM UK & City Hearts

You can even #floss4freedom with Hug Project

Or anything else you can dream up to do for Chab Dai or any other anti-trafficking nonprofit

So inspired!

Up for a challenge?

It can be whole month, one day or 5 days.

Any length of time really.

And any kind of challenge your up for.

If you are, let us know.

And know, we’re in it with you!

P.S. Seriously. In it with you. I’ll be here. I’m running 100 miles. All month long.

P.P.S. Thinking of joining in? Check out

P.P.P.S. Say hi or tag us @freecember #freecember

Revision: 2017 Final Count - $18,000+ for Freedom!

Good news!

Another donation was made to WMFBolivia today taking them to 100% of their goal of $7,200!

And HUG Project let me know they had some additional offline "Freecember-inspired" donations taking them over $10,000!!!

With over $1,000 raised for IJM UK & Australia, the revised total total for Freecember 2017 is over $18,000 for freedom!

High fives and jumping all over the place and high tens!!!

So amazing!

What a way to celebrate National Human Trafficking Awareness Day (in the USA), celebrating  awareness which has led people to take practical action that helps real people in tangible ways via these specific frontlines organizations.

I'm so grateful to get to share in this good news with you today.



(This original art by the Fikes for Freecember 2017 seems perfect!)

Freecember Fikes Art Balloons.jpg

Final Count (Freecember 2017 Wrap Up)

Dear Freedom Raisers,

It was quite a New Year's Eve (and then some!) to finish up Freecember.

All together, we raised over $15,000 for freedom, specifically funding three organizations on the front lines of freedom.

Honestly, it's almost painful how close HUG Project and WMFBolivia got to reaching their milestones. HUG Project just $179 from $7,500 and fully funding a whole new Thai staff person & WMFBolivia only $175 from the $7,200 goal for the lunch program for a year.

Both HUG & WMFB achieving 97.5%! & raising over $7,000 each : ) Woo hoo! 

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for joining in Freecember this year. 

We wouldn't have been able to do all we did together for HUG Project, WMFBolivia and IJM without YOU!

Here's a little video from me I posted on my personal social media. 

It's for you, too.

Freecember 2017

Insert yourself here^

May you know peace, joy and freedom in 2018


(Some more original Fikes boys art for your enjoyment and celebration!)

Freecember 2017 Fikes Art Breaking Chain.jpg
Freecember 2017 Fikes Art Horse.jpg

New Year's Eve (Week 4.5 Update)

Dear Freedom Raisers,

Quick New Year's Eve update before I go for my final 5k run of Freecember... 

We've crossed $12,000!

  • HUG Project - $6,146    (Only $1,354 more and TeamHUG teams would fully fund one Thai staff person // one staff 81% funded!)
  • WMFBolivia - $5,075     ($2,125 more would reach WMFB's goal of $7,200 // 70% there!)
  • IJM UK & Aus - $1,017   (Go UK & Oz, Freedom Raisers!)


Okay, gonna go for my final 5k run : ) It'll take me just over 100 miles for Freecember. 

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! as we finish up and follow up on behalf of the people of WMFBolivia, HUG Project and IJM who are on the frontlines of freedom and all the individuals they are serving.

Original Artwork (Week 3 Wrap Up)

We've crossed $9,000!

Evan & Helen have hit $1,000+.

& The Fikes Boys are the first to hit the $2,000 mark with their art of Freedom and Joy. That's just awesome! 

  • HUG Project - $5,721    (Only $1,779 until TeamHUG teams hit halfway to the HUG goal and fully fund one Thai staff person)
  • WMFBolivia - $3,265     (With seven teams raising, I can't wait to see the WMFB total rise in the final week!)
  • IJM UK & Aus - £478 & $167    (Go UK & Oz, Freedom Raisers!)

Actually, everybody together,

we've almost raised $10K for freedom so far... $9,754

Personally, I'm out there every day (pain or shine). Running. Reflecting. Thankful for you. 

I crossed 100km this week on my way to 100 miles & working on hitting at least $1,000+, too.

Thanks for all you doing and raising for the people of WMFBolivia, HUG Project and IJM who are on the frontlines of freedom. 

Here are a few Fikes original works of art for your enjoyment & inspiration (more & their videos here):

Fast. Freedom. (Week 2 Wrap Up)

Freedom Raisers have raised over $7,000 so far!

  • HUG Project = $3,721
  • WMFBolivia = $3,090
  • IJM UK = £413
  • IJM Aus = $167.74

This week

  • WMFB crossed over $3k!
  • A bunch nudged your totals up
  • A few of you had your first donations : )

Way to go, Freedom Raisers!


The middle. 

For me, it not the waiting that's the hardest part. It's the middle.

In literature, it's where the villain is winning. Where hopes rise and are dashed. 

For motivation, the anticipation and excitement of the beginning are gone. 

The almost there of the end is not yet on the horizon.

It's in the middle, I ask... why am I doing this again? Isn't there an easier way? Does anyone care? Is anyone actually paying attention anyway? What was I thinking?

(Really? 5k every day for 31 days? A delayed international flight and jet lag and running in the dark. And, did you know it's kind of sleeting today? Would anyone notice if I didn't put in the 5k today? I mean, no one's holding me to it, really.)


I'm particularly thankful this week for:

Kelly, who's putting in steps through snow, around the hospital at work and chasing around a toddler. And in the midst, raising funds for other women's children to have hot meals and supportive people in their lives.

Michelle & Asim, who have jumped in and are midday fasting so kids can have lunches to eat. So awesome. So appropriate.

Chris' kids, who are drawing every day on the theme of Freedom & Joy. So cool.


Freedom Raisers,

You are so creative, amazing, inspiring.

Maybe you feel like no one's paying attention at the moment. Maybe you have some evidence people are.

Either way, Keep going.

What you're doing matters to real people, women, children. 

And to the people who are there every day, caring about them, supporting them, who know their names. 

I wonder if sometimes they feel like, why am I doing this again? Isn't there an easier way? Does anyone care? Is anyone actually paying attention anyway? What was I thinking?

It's for them and the people they know by name I keep going.

May your fasting, running, reading, drawing and raising be evidence: Yes, we care. Yes, we're for you.

And while we can't be there every day, we're here, cheering you on and doing what we can to support, encourage and get you the funds you need.

Here to help if I can.



Best. 10 cents. Ever. (Week 1 Wrap Up & A Sweet Story)

Our Freedom Raisers have raised over $5,000 so far!

Here's what a few of our Freedom Raisers are up to!

Allison had an article published about Freecember. She’s also carrying the Aussie Freecember baton this year, running 100km in Australia and raising $104.77 so far with a goal of $1,000 for IJM Australia. You can read her article on page 11 here.

Curtis has joined in as well, officially repping the UK, going for 100 Miles for IJM UK and raising £298 so far. Way to go, Curtis!

Helen, who moved “from the US to Thailand last year to volunteer full-time with an anti-child trafficking organization (HUG Project),” explained, “I have been surprised by many things including: 1.) How prevalent child sexual abuse and exploitation are - especially online. 2.) How many Thai people are working earnestly for change within their own country. 3.) How many victim services are provided with precious few resources.” has raised $1,200.

Evan, even though this is his self-described “first time at this,” has raised $950 for WMFBolivia so far! Woo hoo!

Kyle (@femorian) and crew are weight lifting 100 tons (!) in Jasper, GA

The best pledge so far, IMO, though, comes from Ohio, where Becky wrote:

You're right, you never know!
I've had several per day type pledges, so I'm trying to keep track of that amount. I think our crowdrise site will look really low for a while, but right around and after Christmas it should spike up.
Speaking of talking to friends over coffee, my 6 year old who is doing the read as much as you can for this month, was telling her friend at an event about what she was doing. Her friend decided to donate 10 cents for every book she reads :) And now her friend is going to read and see if she can get pledges too! Pretty sweet.


Best. 10 cents. Ever.

Reading about her 6 year old and her friend, I seriously put my arms up like I finished a race or just won something!

I'm pretty sure those 10 cents per book are going to be my favorite money raised this Freecember!

(Becky (and her 6 year-old daughter!)’s giving page is here.)

And it shows me, no matter who we are, we can all do something to help stop slavery.

Way to go, Freedom Raisers!

Thanks for joining in to fund the frontlines of freedom!

I'm here to help if I can : )



P.S. I'm even willing to try things like going Live on Facebook. Never done that before, and was a little shocked when fb showed someone actually watching! And a little heart floated up while I was sharing. ha! (You can see my two rookie attempts at fb live at This one's a poem.


Bright Spots


Bright Spot

I'm a big fan of Chip & Dan Heath's books. This shot reminded me of something from Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard:

Look for the bright spots.

Times, places, situations where things are going well.

Healthy kids in communities where many are malnourished is an example they give. Figure out what's working and learn from the bright spots.

Personal Bright Spot: I ran 5 k today. (I'll have to average 5k per day to hit 100 miles in Freecember!)

This bright spot's also a reminder to me that there's a lot of progress being made in anti-trafficking and a lot of great grassroots organisations helping people live in freedom with dignity & delight.

I'm talking this week with NGOs working in Bolivia, Wales, Philippines, Thailand and India about joining in Freecember this year. 

They're bright spots.

You are, too. ; )

Progress Isn't Pretty (Quickpost)

Progress Isn't Pretty: rarely is making progress a black tie affair. It's messy. It's sweaty. It's not pretty. I ran 2 miles without stopping today. Whew. Not pretty. Back on the horse tho. (Which is also sweaty... and smelly).

Is there something you're putting off because progress isn't pretty?


#freecember #runfree #raisefreedom 


Quickpost: How to Start Getting Ready to Run 100 Miles in a Month (T-77 days to Freecember 2017)

I ran a mile the other day.

I looked back at when I last ran that far. It had been a long time. Months and months.

So I started by trying to run a mile.  I made it!

But that's not the point.

The point is: I started.

My pace? 9:33/mi.

Also, not the point. 

To run 100 miles later, I needed to start.

I started with a mile.

You could start by walking a 1/4 mile. 

I've heard Couch to 5k has been really helpful for some people.

(fyi: 100 miles in a month is roughly 5k/day! That doesn't mean a Freecember challenge isn't for you. Maybe your Freecember challenge is to walk a mile a day or to run 100k or to do yoga 10x or a yogathon or complete Couch to 5k)

I've had some trouble with my IT band in the past. So I've also started with one set each of: side leg lifts, no-weights squats and planks.

I kind of have a little to no idea what I'm doing, but someone suggested I incorporate yoga, and I've heard some about HIIT.

And I might try out Aaptiv and see how that goes. 

BTW, Freecember Team Captain registration opens October 1st!

That'll be T - 60 days to Freecember.

Plenty of time to get ready for your Freecember Challenge : )

Get To Know the People Making Freecember’s Wristbands!

Freecember wristbands.png

Freecember is honored to support the work of global organizations making a local impact. One of these is Common Good: Kolkata. For many families living in poverty are faced with decisions that no family would like to make. Decisions around when and who can eat, which child, if any, can go to school and even if the family can afford to stay together.

These are not uncommon decisions for millions of people around the world.

These ethically produced wristbands have been made by people that face decisions like this every day. They are the battlers of the world that keep striving towards a better life no matter how hard it is to believe that a different life is possible.

Families like this made these Limited Edition Freecember wristbands. And the money for them helps people have good jobs so they can make good choices for their families. And move that different life from possibility to reality.

Can little old wristbands really change the world? Maybe... They can certainly help make a world of difference for these families, this community and the Common Good.

Check out their story at Thank you for helping make the difference!

Click here to join in or donate in the USA. Click here to join in or donate in the UK.

Want a wristband? Email

Yes, Virginia, There Is Slavery In The World Today

handwritten note.jpg

"What's your ribbon for?" A young woman noticed and asked my about my "upside down" purple ribbon this week.

I told her it was to start conversations about modern slavery.

She was, I think, shocked. Taken aback.

She genuinely did not know there are millions of people in some form of slavery today.

It was affirmation there is a need for Freecember, to continue to raise widespread awareness, but even more importantly, informed action to address modern slavery / human trafficking and to support initiatives of Prevention, Intervention and Restoration.

Over the past few years, I've been learning so much about different forms of slavery, and learning about great organizations like International Justice Mission, Free the Slaves, Not For Sale, Polaris Project and Love 146 working to address slavery, I've become a bit immersed in it.

Like ... everyone knows about this, right?

I've come dangerously close to what the Heath Brothers call "The Curse of Knowledge," in their book Made to Stick, where "we start for forget what it's like not to know what we know."

In my core, I was encouraged about the importance of Freecember.

Here's the note I wrote to the young woman:

Thanks for asking about my ribbon this morning.


Modern slavery is a heavy topic, but there are things we can do to help stop it and great organizations making a huge difference helping people live in freedom.


A few years ago, I had no idea that slavery was a reality today and no clue what to do about it. Now I know some more and hope I can help more people find out not just about the problem, but also how they can be part of the solution.


Peace, Tate


For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory

For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory Warning: This story contains imperfect language, intense feelings and realities such as sexual abuse and death. There is frequent crying from the outset.

Journal Entry, 25 March 2014:


This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.


I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.


We have to do something! NOW!

5th Freecember 2014

My interest in and heart for the poor, marginalized and oppressed has been growing over the past decade. I find myself frequently returning to a desire to actively participate in preventing slavery, and rescuing and restoring the priceless people affected by slavery: the ones that do not have the strength or resources to defend themselves.

In 2002, I started leading trips of young people to serve in Eastern Europe and was exposed to the material lack some people there had. I remember one young person who recounted how that afternoon she had seen a boy climbing on a trash dump holding up discarded clothes for his little sister who stood at the top of a hill to choose from. The teenager was heartbroken at the realities of extreme poverty, wishing she’d taken off her name brand fleece and given it to the little girl on the spot; she now works for 10,000 Villages.

In 2007, I led a service trip to an orphanage in Eastern Europe. I was focused on completing the work aspects of the project, guiding the leaders, keeping the teenagers safe, sharing a message of hope, truth and purpose. We helped alleviate real problems, but others who were more experienced and aware suspected that the orphanage director was selling the orphan girls. I was horrified. And partly dumbfounded that I had been oblivious. But I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t think about looking for it, and was focused on other important matters (primarily the young people for whom I was responsible). Thankfully, despite my ignorance, the attention brought as a result of our presence resulted in the removal and prosecution of the orphanage director.

A few years later, I attended a conference in Budapest. Out of interest, I attended a seminar by a woman who had worked for 10+ years with women who were trafficked and prostituted. I couldn’t stop weeping. I felt an urge to go up and wash her feet with my tears. I didn’t do it, not wanting to interrupt. Or more probably out of self-consciousness. I wanted to find out more and just say thank you for giving your life to serve, so I had lunch with her and her team and the uncontrollable sobbing continued. I said, "We have to talk about something else for a while. I can’t cry any more." At that point, I had no idea that women and girls were deceived, forced, coerced, threatened and enslaved for commercial sex.

That night I saw a woman at the entrance to the hotel where I was staying. Who did I see? A prostitute or a woman being prostituted? I saw a woman with a story I didn’t know. I didn’t know how she ended up there. Was it a choice? Forced, by forces beyond her control? Threatened with bodily harm? Passportless? A prisoner without bars? Under threats to her family? Unable to speak the language? Unable to trust those in positions of authority, in position to help?

I continued on with work and my young family. Busy times if you know what I mean. I would taking opportunities to teach on God’s heart for the poor and oppressed, giving messages on hosting parties for people that won’t, no, can’t invite you back, and how sponsoring a child for Compassion International is a tangible, specific way people can take a first step. I’ve taken young people to conferences about slavery and injustice, like the day Hope for Justice hosted in Birmingham, England, a few years back, and have encouraged them to begin giving interest-free loans to people through Kiva. For years we have been monthly donors to International Justice Mission, not much, but a small way to participate in their work on behalf of the oppressed.

In March, I decided to go see a screening of a film about sex trafficking, followed by a panel with the London Metropolitan Police, Hope for Justice, IJM UK and Sophie Hayes Foundation.  I left that afternoon with this thought: I have to do something about this.

I was aware that the book, The Locust Effect, had been published recently, and I got it and started reading. Here’s my journal entry from 25 March 2014:

"This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.

I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.

We have to do something! NOW!"

So at various times over the course of this past decade or more, I have been both heartbroken and outraged, and more recently I have been pursuing ways to be meaningfully involved in helping end modern slavery, human trafficking and violence against the poor. I have been looking for what is a fit for my capacities, abilities, experience and heart...

15th Freecember 2015 Update

Last year, I honestly couldn’t figure out what I could do to make a difference, and I wasn’t sure what to do about everything I was feeling. I didn't know what I didn't know, and I didn't know what would actually help. I set out to learn as much as I could about human trafficking, and started, or really, continued on a journey, figuratively and sometimes literally. I wrote down but didn't share publicly about what I was learning and thinking and feeling. Then, after talking and dreaming and kicking ideas around with a few friends, and not really knowing what else to do at the time, but wanting to do something, I decided I’d start by trying to go 100 miles in a month and seeing if anyone would be crazy enough to join me.

Plus, nothing about slavery is funny. Me exercising… Now that has potential.

Heartbroken. Outraged. Hopeful. Overwhelmed. Here. Overseas. Persistent Effort. #freecember #hohohope

Don't Run This Race Alone

Last weekend, a few of us ran in the Dorset 10k, probably the hardest 10k I can ever imagine running in my life. Beautiful and challenging. As I experienced the whole event and as I ran, I reflected on joining in the movement of people and organizations working to stop slavery:

  1. This is a lot harder than I was expecting. Sometimes it was all I could do just to keep moving forward. Once or twice I had to sit down and catch my breath.
  2. In the middle of the race, out in the middle of nowhere, there’s not a lot of fanfare. A group of four cheering, a man with his dog, someone running nearby.
  3. Because of a staggered start, there were people that had already been running for hours when we started and who would continue to run for hours after we finished. Half-marathoners already well into their race hi-fived 10k-ers, 10k-ers cheered on marathoners… and ultra-marathoners. It didn’t matter whether you were just about to start running or whether you had been running for a long time already, people encouraged and cheered each other on. Friends and strangers celebrated each other’s progress.
  4. “Three people are better than no people.” – F.L. Hamer. I like running alone with my music and my thoughts. But on this occasion, I was so glad two friends agreed to come with me. I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into. I’m glad had people to train with, gear up and get there with, people I knew who understood exactly what I was experiencing, and to debrief and celebrate with.

Don’t run this race alone.

The Fire and the Flood

19 March 2014 Who am I?

What difference can I make?

“You're just a minnow in a huge ocean."

Honest and true words, spoken in the tone of a realist.

Alone, I am small.

But am I insignificant?

What can one person do?

Am I on a wild goose chase?


Have you ever felt simply and utterly compelled to do something?

In the face of proverbial overwhelming odds?

But ...

What if?

What if one becomes three?

What if three become 30?

And 30 become 300?

What can 300 do?

(My friend, both history teacher and film fan can tell you.)

I am only one.

But ...

I can’t not.

I simply cannot not.

I must.

I am compelled.

The same woman that said, "No one is free until everybody is free," also said,

"Three people are better than no people.”

And I am not alone.

In some ways, I feel like I am late to the fight.

Many fires are already burning.

Not only people in large and small, domestic and international non-profits, but people in governments and corporations and small businesses and schools and universities. And in communities and families and twos and threes. And Tim and Emma.

Yes, Tim and Emma. Two young people you’ve never heard of. Inconsequential? (I do not think that word means what you think it means.) Who have been getting together with a group of 7 people for two years. Who hosted a screening of a movie followed by a panel with the London Metropolitan Police, IJM, Hope for Justice & Sophie Hayes Foundation.

Tim & Emma.

Who put up posters and passed out postcards.

Who kept striking flint to tinder.

And rekindled a spark.

In me.

Bring on the reinforcements.

Three people that care are better than no people that care.

Find two allies, friends, brothers and sisters in arms.

Light a fire where you are with what you have.

Am I a minnow? Perhaps.

Do I feel like one? Often.

But, I am a spark.

Only a single spark.

Alone, I cannot light a pitch dark room.

Alone, I give no warmth.

There are many things I cannot do alone, but I can light a flame that becomes a torch. I can be blown across rivers, over walls, through chain links and behind bars … until beacon fires burn in villages and cities, until a wildfire sweeps across fields filled with thorns.

I am potential.

Within me is the fire … and the flood.

I know there is a flood within me because every time I think about or write about modern slavery, the floodgates open.

A tear. Then weeping. Sobbing. Sometimes uncontrollably. In public.

There is a spark of life in every woman, man and child in slavery.

Perhaps it is only smoldering.

Being smothered.

Almost extinguished.

There is a spark in you, too.

(As I write these words, tears roll slowly down my cheeks. I’m sobbing ... in public again. I can’t not.)


Who am I?




I feel like it.



What difference can I make?

A spark.

A drop.

By themselves, almost imperceptible.


Without the spark, there is no fire. Without the drop, there is no ocean.

Let us become the fire & the flood.

Starfish and the Tide


Starfish - The Vision27th March 2014

I'm crying on a transatlantic flight again.

I don't think the young man with the white corded headphones sitting next to me has noticed.

I'm alone for this journey, heading from London to Wichita to meet with some friends and advisers, to talk about the dream growing within me of helping end modern slavery.

This time I haven't been watching an animated movie. Tearjerkers.

And I don't feel physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted.

I've just been reading the true stories of Laura, Yuri & Mariamma and the violence and captivity they face in Kenya, Peru and India respectively, weeping for them and those who care about them.

I cry to varying degrees pretty much every day these days, flipping back and forth between




I wonder ...

What would it take to actually bring an end to these atrocities?

To bring freedom and safety to the 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

To bring an end to the pandemic affecting the lives of millions?

And it's not just stopping one perpetrator, it´s affecting

systemic and structural injustice.

It feels like too much.

And yet today,

Somewhere in the world, there is

A child who needs protection

A teenager who needs to be rescued

A young woman who needs support for restoration

A man forced to work in desperation

There are children, fathers, and mothers, sons and daughters

I can only think of the story of the boy walking along the beach with his father.

After a storm, the tide has gone out and has left hundreds and hundreds of starfish to bake in the scorching sun without protection, helpless to help themselves.

The son runs to and fro, picking up starfish one by one and flinging them back into the water ....

The father looks at his son and says, "My boy, look at all the starfish. So many. From here to the horizon. There are so many. There´s no way you can make any difference."

The child pauses for a moment, looks at the starfish in his hand, looks up at his Dad, looks back at the starfish, flings it into the safety of the sea

and innocently says,

"I made a difference to that one."

That is the picture I must keep before me as I am confronted by the sheer massiveness of modern slavery.

If I help protect, recover or restore just one human being, it is worth it.

And then I wonder ... what if we could change the story itself?

What if we could turn the tide?

What if the sea-level started to rise and began covering dozens, hundreds, thousands of starfish with the protection and nourishment they need, continuing to rise inch by inch, foot by foot, meter by meter, until every one of the millions of precious lives of enslaved today become the survivors.

Not helpless, but in need of help.

Could it be both/and?

What if we could Protect/Prevent, Rescue & Restore people by the ones and dozens,

and at the same time

Turn the tide for hundreds, thousands, and millions of people.

What would it take?

I think it would take you...

And me...

And another...

And another...

And another...

Doing what we can, with what we have, and who we are, where we spend our time.

The actions of everyday people banding together and doing what we can with what we have or can get our hands on, where we are or can get to, utilizing whatever resources, relational networks and influence we have on behalf of people being oppressed.

A little bit. Every day.

Maybe this isn't fair, but my gut says no one is neutral. I am either helping or hurting.



Today, as I sit and read and write somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, I am ...



Determined to help one starfish back in the ocean


To band together to turn the tide itself.



[Photo Credit: low tide in nungwi by Yoni Lerner]