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Combating Violations of Human Rights One Cup at a Time

By       Message Lawrence Gist     Permalink
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Typically, the coffee artisans at the Seattle-based Storyville Coffee Company have one thing on their collective mind - helping people to brew the perfect cup of coffee at home. It's an obsession that borders on fanaticism.

But recently, Storyville made the radical decision to give away everything earned during the month of May - not just profits, but every penny from every sale - to International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency that rescues victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of oppression. Every purchase was effectively a donation to IJM.

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The results? During the "Give It All Away in May" campaign, Storyville raised enough money for IJM - which currently operates in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America - to expand its work into Ecuador.

The International Labor Organization estimates that thousands of minors in Ecuador are being exploited in prostitution. Ecuadorian children are also being trafficked to Western Europe, particularly Spain and Italy, and to other countries in Latin America. In partnership with a local human rights agency, Paz y Esperanza, IJM will fight for these young victims.

"It's an honor for us to be a part of this great endeavor, making justice a reality for those who desperately need advocates," says Storyville Co-President Chad Turnbull.

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Experts claim there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history. The United Nations estimates that as many as 27 million people are held in slavery, including nearly 2 million children who are exploited in the global commercial sex trade each year.

"We're excited about the difference a six-figure contribution will make in Ecuador, but we're still aware of the magnitude of the problem - a $32 billion dollar human trafficking industry. We want to do more. We will do more," Turnbull adds.

During their May campaign, Storyville also redefined the term "Coffee House" with a series of 17 private concerts held in people's homes across the U.S. to help raise support and awareness for IJM and its fight against human exploitation. More concerts are being planned for the future to benefit IJM.

IJM's Pamela Livingston concludes, "We are so thankful for Storyville Coffee and their partnership in the fight for justice. This radical model of philanthropy is an inspiration to the IJM staff and our supporters."

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Lawrence J. Gist II is a dedicated pro bono attorney and counselor at law, adjunct professor of legal studies at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Indigenous Knowledges, and a veteran (more...)
 

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