Born to Fly International Announces Sept. 9 Twitterthon to Fight Child Slavery
A Florida-based journalist turned abolitionist recently named in Huffington Post as one of the “Top 10 Women Warriors of Twitter” has launched “09-09-09” – a one-day Twitterthon initiative on September 9, 2009, to raise funds to fight child trafficking.
Diana Scimone, a veteran journalist who has chronicled the $9.5 billion-a-year human trafficking industry for years, founded the non-profit Born to Fly International to help end child slavery. Scimone’s 09-09-09 Twitterthon goal is for 9,000 people to give $9 each – the $81,000 needed to start printing a new child-trafficking awareness book and curriculum by Scimone and illustrator Leah Wiedemer. “Each year more than a million children are lured into slavery around the world,” Scimone said. “Imagine what a dent we can make in the trafficking pipeline if we educate kids and their parents about the tactics traffickers use before they show up at their doorstep.”
While there are many reasons why a child may be trafficked (sadly, some are knowingly sold into slavery by their parents), Born to Fly works specifically to educate the millions of children and parents who are lured into slavery by false promises of “employment” and a better life for a child. The centerpiece of the Born to Fly project is a picture book – wordless so it doesn’t have to be translated into hundreds of languages – that teaches children to make wise choices. A companion curriculum will reinforce the important concepts in the book.
The curriculum and book illustrations are nearly complete. The final layout is scheduled for October. If enough funds are raised, printing will start in December. Born to Fly will then ship to a waiting list of schools, missions and aid organizations in North America and as far away as Ghana, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Bulgaria. “Our goal is to give the books away without charge, of course. So we are counting on our crowdfunding to help get this done.”
Enter the 09-09-09 Twitterthon.
Twitter has become a major source of crowdfunding – raising funds by appealing to large numbers of ordinary people for small donations. The 09-09-09 project, which has its own special twitter account – @09_09_09 – was featured prominently in a recent article on Mashable.com entitled A Guide to Crowdfunding Success. The Mashable Twitter account has nearly 1.2 million followers, and Mashable.com is one of the most respected social media authorities on the web. Scimone says the attention should help Born to Fly reach its 09-09-09 goal: “Lots of awareness, lots of strong new relationships, and lots of money.”
Scimone, who regularly tweets as @dianascimone where she has 1,500 followers, says Twitter could not have arrived at a better time. “What I love about Twitter is the community,” explains Scimone. “Twitter connects me with people I don’t know, but should.” Many companies have even donated prizes to give away during the Twitterthon. Everyone who donates $9 will be eligible for a prize drawing. (The prizes include original artwork, handcrafted sterling silver jewelry and plenty more. Scimone is announcing a prize each day leading up to 09-09-09 on her blog – www.dianascimone.com.)
Children as young as pre-schoolers are lured into modern-day slavery all over the world, including in the United States, where they’re raped for profit—night after night. Scimone wants her followers to get angry about this and to do something about it. “Traffickers think kids are commodities,” said Scimone. “On 9/9/09, I challenge my twitter followers to tell kids they’re priceless.”
The Born to Fly Project 09-09-09 Twitterthon Challenge:
• Donate: Go to www.born2fly.org and use the orange Chip-in button to donate $9.
• Twitter: Tweet about it. Follow @09_09_09. Add a Twibbon after you’ve donated.
• Email: Tell 9 people about 09-09-09 and send them to www.born2fly.org where they can donate via the Chip-in button.
• Blog: Post about 09-09-09. Include the logo and a link to www.born2fly.org.
• Facebook: Talk about 09-09-09; include a link to www.born2fly.org.
• Updates: Check Diana Scimone’s blog for the latest: www.dianascimone.com
For more about the Born to Fly Project, visit www.born2fly.org.
Diana Scimone’s Back Story
Born to Fly International founder and director Diana Scimone is a journalist who has traveled to more than 40 countries including Sudan, Zimbabwe, Thailand, China and India.
“As a journalist I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been to a refugee camp in Sudan, an orphanage overflowing with “throw-away” kids in China, and a home for AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe. Nothing, however, prepared me for what I saw in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India: cages that held little girls—some as young as 5 years old—smuggled in from Nepal.
“That’s when I first learned about the global child sex trade and began to write about it. On that trip I interviewed a young teenager whose boyfriend had drugged her and sold her to a madam. The stories did not get prettier. In Pattaya, Thailand, I remember a banner hanging over an intersection in the red-light district proclaiming this was “boys town.” In most areas where child sex slavery flourishes, girls are for sale, but this particular area specialized in young boys.
“I’ve stood at border crossings into Cambodia and Myanmar, knowing that children were trafficked across the border along with cattle, chickens, and rice. The real shock was to learn that child trafficking is not just across the globe but also across the street. The problem has grown so bad in my own city of Orlando, Florida, that we now have a human trafficking coalition as well as a prayer group that focuses specifically on the problem.”
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