Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Origin Coffee Shop Article I wrote in Kool Fire Magazine

A Cup for a Cause
“Can you bind yourself to a shift for a 3 month time frame for those that have no freedom can go free?”
On January 22, 2011 something changed in our community that would impact lives around the globe. It all started with casual conversations between friends, a conversation that doesn’t normally take place in most households.  A conversation about a topic most find hard to discuss, not because we don’t care but because most have no idea how to make a difference or help fight to change the problem. But Co-Founders of Origin Coffee & Tea, Mark South and Chad Salstrom came up with a concept that is doing just that, impacting the world with one cup of coffee at a time. When we hear about a young girl who is missing on television or read about her in the paper most are saddened and concerned for her safety. We stare at her picture and study her face for a moment and imagine if it was our child that was missing, taken or sold. But where does one start to help fight the brutal and most heinous life of sex trafficking. More and more children every year are drug into the life of slavery, “like a disposable cup,” Mark South said, one of the co-founders of Origin. He told us about a story of a young girl about the age of sixteen taken off the street in El Dorado Hills in 2009. She was held in Rocklin for eight days until she was sold off to sex slavery in the Bay Area. After hearing that story of the young girl and many others Mark and Chad decided to build something that would “bring awareness to create a culture of this reality,” and constant revenue in the aid Child Sex Trafficking. They said that one check in any amount of money wouldn’t even stop the 32 billion dollar a year industry of child sex slavery. Awareness and perception was the only way to really make a long lasting impact on an act that will take decades to bring down. Origin opened its doors in 2011 and with this concept; they have created story tellers and abolitionists, a city wide collaborative, non-profit business that impacts not only our children locally but worldwide. There are many people since opening in 2011 that have given their life to this. Traveling overseas and donating their time to help save a child’s life. There have come by to visit Origin just to see where it all starts. Like most successful things in life it is a give and take. When you have this many people fighting for these girls it’s good to see that some know they need to fight for themselves, Mark explained. Of course there is the reality that some just can’t see the hope and end up right back where they were rescued from, but the success stories outweigh the tragedies. With all this effort being put out it takes a city to save these children so Origin has partnered with some incredible resources. One of the most wonderful resources out there is the Grace Network.  www.thegracenetwork.org
They are a list of anonymous angels who when an email is sent out to share about a child in need these people from all walks of life and carriers step up and provide the necessary funds to help the cause against child exploitation to truly birth lasting change and transformation with this issue. Most of all the money collected from these resources and from Origin goes to homes in these countries like Cambodia. Another small example is tattoo removal for the brandings that are carved into these girls displaying that they have been bought or owned. The process of saving a child from slavery starts with Rescue. IJM (International Justice Mission) www.ijm.org based in Washington DC is a big part of why we have seen thousands saved by the action of this organization. The next step in the process is Recovery starting with a safe home in cities like Calcutta where on home can house up to 17 girls or more that have been rescued. Cultural development on the ground is crucial to changing the perspective on how slavery is viewed in other countries. Origin Coffee works with resources like The Grace Network and IJM in fighting for an end in child sex slavery.
When you visit Origin one of the things you can expect to find is a delicious cup of “Fair Trade Organic” coffee, made by professional baristas. The coffee is locally farmed and roasted here locally in the city. Their hand crafted coffee has won awards with a throwback old school coffee style all topped with striking late art. In an effort to raise more money for the cause Origin also hosts Open Mic night every 3rd Saturday, showcasing local artists and talent. Origin also offers two conference rooms available for meetings or any other needs you might have. They do not charge for the use of the facility and only ask that %75 of your party purchase a drink. Another creative way to help in the financial backing needed to donate to these organizations is the sale of handmade purses, wallets and jewelry and other unique products made directly from the girls that have been rescued.
With all that this shop has to offer it’s no surprise that they are the talk of the town and that’s exactly what they want, a discussion about a global issue that needs to be talked about over and over again.
Origin Coffee & Tea is open every day from 6:30am- 10:30pm Free Wi-Fi is offered to their customers. They are located at 2168 Sunset Boulevard #105 Rocklin, CA 95675
(916) 787-5676

Elizabeth Cheryl

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Children of the Night

Children of the Night
            As I sit here to write this week’s article I am filled with anger and severe sadness. The 49ers just won their spot in the playoffs and San Francisco and many other cities around the country are in celebration, for that I am thankful and elated. I love something that brings people together in celebration. How lucky we are to live in a country where our children can enjoy the moment of celebration with their parents as they won. But in Africa thousands of children right now are being stolen in the middle of the night. No Television, dinner with family or even a bed to lay on tonight.  They are the victims of the LRA and are now being trained and sent into a meaningless war. A war that is not a war by any regards other than Joseph Kony and his sickening attempt to destroy. The children of the night are forced to murder their parents, rape their sisters and eat body parts of the bloodied innocent to show their loyalty. On October 9th 1996, 139 girls between the ages of 12 & 15 were taken in the dark of the night as they slept. They were students of St. Mary’s College of Northern Uganda.
Those young girls were forced to become sex slaves for Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA. The girls were not only sex slaves but also made to fetch water miles away from camps, most bloodied by rape and physical torture. Ayako, survived a vicious attack from Kony and the LRA as she was forced to watch the brutal murder of her husband and two children. Kony burned down her house and plucked one of her eyes out with a wire. Her lips and nose were cut off as she was forced to eat them. If she cried they would slit her throat.
This is one of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of torturous deaths since Joseph Kony started his sadistic rampage in 1987 but the group has no political party. He claims to be fighting under God's orders to establish a society based on the Bible's Ten Commandments. He has led a campaign and committed atrocities throughout Northern Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

As you read this article children are being abducted, raped, physically and mentally tortured.  As you ponder that thought, hundreds just exhaled their last breath. These are children, innocent beings that are guilty of nothing more than being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no lesson in this for these children, no great message that will inspire them to see the silver lining. These children only know death, fear and despair. Kony’s children and victims literally live what we would only call the epitome of hell on earth. The organization is believed to have murdered tens of thousands of people, abducted at least 30,000 children to work as sex slaves or soldiers and forced more than 1.5million people to flee their homes. As of this date the numbers are much higher.
Uganda's army has theoretically hunted the organization’s leaders but Kony has continually evaded capture - at times arrogantly even emerging from the jungle to give interviews to journalists before disappearing again. Last October American president Barack Obama announced he was sending troops to help the hunt for the LRA. Around 100 US soldiers have since been deployed in the region to help local officials trace the mass killer, but more needs to be done. This is no longer a pilgrimage or war about freeing these children from the grips of satan himself but merely a plea to all of humanity to not forget what is not in front of their face every day. Everyone was on the Kony train back in March when the movie “Invisible Children” by Jason Russell was released on YouTube. It gained huge popularity with movie stars and Facebook. I was even someone who posted “Kony 2012” on my Facebook, and I was one of the people who forgot as quickly as the football season started and winter grew upon us. I too forgot about the children and the cause, the torture and the death. But we can’t forget about humans. Not when the cost of a cup of coffee can save a life or when children like Malala Yousafzai fight for their education. As young children are being traded for sex unfolding in our own backyards we need to pay attention. I know one person cannot save a population of human suffering and need, but one person can plant a seed that will grow and embrace all that stands under its shade, just as an old oak provides shelter to all that seeks it. It takes every one of us to remember and act to make a difference. Please visit the following sites to see how you can help by planting one little seedling giving them a chance to be the Children of the Light.

Elizabeth Cheryl