By Gisele McKnight
Luke 4:18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.
4th Mark of Mission: To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.
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A little rag doll has changed Eddie Quann’s life.
That’s one powerful doll, and he prays — literally — that it has the power to change millions of lives.
This journey began two years ago when he and wife Gina were visiting Ottawa.
“They presented this rag doll project at family camp,” he said. “It truly touched our hearts. It brought such an awareness of the millions and millions of people sold into slavery.”
Eddie, a deacon in the Parish of Chatham, has the statistics to back up his millions comment.
“When we got involved two years ago, 13-15 million people a year were being trafficked,” he said. “Now today, world-wide, it’s 30-35 million. It’s doubled.”
Human Trafficking — a modern-day form of slavery — is the second largest organized crime in the world next to drug trafficking.
These alarming stats are one of the reasons why Eddie and Gina work so hard to spread the word about human trafficking — forced labour, prostitution, even organ removal.
From that day at family camp, Eddie and Gina learned how to present the workshops, and on April 16, they were in Cambridge-Narrows to spread the word. They were joined by friends and fellow presenters Billy and Holly Gallant, who have been with them on this two-year journey.
The workshop is a hands-on craft that runs about two-and-a-half hours. Everyone is given a partially-made cloth doll, and with needle and thread, ribbon, yarn and so on, they stuff their doll and decorate it.
“If I can sew a doll together, anyone can!” said Eddie. “I’m not ashamed of sewing a doll. Step-by-step we build the dolls.”
As the dolls are sewn, participants learn all about human trafficking.
There is one part of the doll that remains undecorated.
“You can decorate it everywhere but the face,” said Gina. “The faceless doll represents all those sold into trafficking as faceless people. To the ones selling them, who they are doesn’t matter.”
The doll goes home, hopefully to a prominent place in the house, as a reminder to pray daily for the millions of victims trapped in a degrading, powerless life.
“We encourage people to keep the dolls in a really visible part of their home,” said Eddie. “We keep ours on the back of the couch. It’s a reminder to pray to set the captives free.”
Slavery can mean working for years in a restaurant to pay off the debt incurred by being smuggled into North America or Europe. Eddie fears a similar fate for thousands leaving the Middle East and Africa as wars rage and people flee, seeking a better life.
“Prostitution is probably the biggest,” he said.
“And babies are being sold, taken away from their mothers and sold to rich people who can’t have one,” said Gina.
What Eddie and Gina want is more awareness of this growing, world-wide issue.
“People just sit there and can’t believe it,” said Eddie of workshop participants. “Most of us here in New Brunswick are secure where we are.”
When Debora Kantor heard Eddie talk about his rag dolls at a YIG (Youth & Intergenerational Ministries) meeting last fall, she was intrigued.
At the same time the family/youth ministry co-ordinator in the Parish of Cambridge and Waterborough was gearing up for the CLAY youth conference in PEI this summer, which has the theme “Not For Sale,” referring to creation, salvation and human beings.
“Then I saw one of Eddie’s dolls that said ‘Not For Sale’ on it because you’re not allowed to sell them. The conference theme is Not For Sale as well. It was just screaming at me!” said Debora.
To further confirm the message God was sending, the Lenten Meditative Prayer book mentions developing triggers to remind people to pray. Something like a rag doll, perhaps?
“When you see the doll, you can’t help but think and pray for people so taken advantage of,” she said. “This is really awareness. Prayer and awareness. Then it’s up to the people to take it from there.”
Debora told of one woman at the workshop who said she was there because she once lived in a foreign country where ‘I saw it happening in front of me.’
Almost two dozen people attended the workshop. One of them was Caitlin Mason, one of five diocesan young people who will attend the CLAY gathering in August.
“It was awesome,” she said of the workshop. “It was lots of fun making the dolls and they did a really good job explaining why we were making them.”
Caitlin, 15 and in Grade 9, now understands a bit of what it might be like to be trapped in slavery.
“It would be just awful,” she said. “I can’t imagine the pain some of these kids go through, the work and the hunger.
“I think it’s a really good cause. There’s a lot of it in the world and we’re just starting to understand it and raise awareness. It was a great learning experience for the community.”
Caitlin’s doll is perched on top of a mirror in the family’s living room, a daily reminder to pray for those who have fallen victim to human trafficking.
Eddie and Gina are available to present a rag doll workshop to your group. Contact them at this number: 506-773-9609, or via email: egaquann at nbnet.nb.ca .