Great Performance at The National Black Theatre

   “Sometimes I Hear Voices-Voices from the bottoms of oceans where black bodies chose to rest- Give me liberty  or give me death… They jumped.” Zoe Flowers

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10531181_10204608451714224_765310723_nThe Cast of From Ashes To Angel’s Dust (Sherri Pullum, Vesta Walker and Chantal Maurice), tore down the stage at the National Black Theatre last Thursday night!!!! They seem to embody my words more and more each time they perform!!!!! Love these women!!! Be on the look out From Ashes to Angel’s Dust is coming to a theatre near you!

 

We also had big fun on the red carpet!!!

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From Ashes to Angel’s Dust is coming to the National Black Theatre!!!!

Redemption. Forgiveness. The Power of the Human spirit. Second Chances. This is Diamond Ruff!!!!

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Come check out it’s New York City premiere this Thursday night at the The National Black Theatre: Institute for Action Art s as part of this year’s Harlem Book Fair!!!!!!

The women of From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood will be there too performing excerpts from our show!!!

Don’t miss it! This Thursday! Red Carpet event starts at 6:00pm! Visit http://www.diamondruffmovie.com for details!

 

Peace Is a Lifestyle!!!!

Join me this Saturday at the 1st ever Peace Is A Lifestyle Conference!! I am excited and honored to be part of this important conversation!!!

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Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: BUZZ BRAND MARKETING 1180 Avenue of the Americas |8th Floor |New York City, NY 10036 | 212.360.0399 Marisa King-Redwood, mking@buzzbrandmktg.com Chevonne Robinson, crobinson@buzzbrandmktg.com
BK Nation, Life Camp, and Fordham University partner on First Annual “Peace Is A Lifestyle” Conference

June 10, 2014, NEW YORK, NY–On Saturday June 28th from 9am-3pm, BK Nation, a new national organization, and Fordham University, in conjunction with Erica Ford’s Life Camp, a leading force in the anti-violence movement, will host the First Annual “Peace Is A Lifestyle” Conference at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus in Manhattan. The day-long gathering will feature speakers representing diverse sections of the population, as well as activists, advocates, academics, elected officials, and concerned community members of all ages. The conference will tackle serious issues plaguing our society including gun violence, hate crimes, bullying, and violence against women and girls. Not only will the conference identify problems but guests and speakers will explore possible solutions and what action steps our communities can take going forward as a city-wide movement for nonviolence and peace.

Kevin Powell, acclaimed writer and activist, and president and co-founder of BK Nation, will be the keynote speaker and feels very strongly about the plague of violence in our society:

“With talk of yet another hot and violent summer in America’s urban centers, BK Nation and I are very determined to help find solutions and alternatives in all forms. Bringing together youth, elders, community members, and the area’s leading anti-violence leaders is a critical step in the movement for peace. We are humbled and honored to partner with Fordham University and Life Camp on this effort.”

On hosting the event, “Here at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) it is our mission to promote human rights and social justice. It is in the spirit of this mission that we hope to be a catalyst for social change. In the wake of the violent acts that are taking place, both here and around the world, people in our communities are feeling hopeless. We are increasingly aware of the violence, but unaware of the groundbreaking work that’s being done by leaders in the anti-violence movement. With this conference we endeavor to go beyond talking about the problems, to formulating viable solutions moving forward, and providing opportunities to join existing initiatives towards peace. Our amazing partnership with Kevin Powell, Founder of BK Nation, and the other community leaders involved with this event is a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together. “ –Priscilla Dyer, GSS Special Projects Administrator & Jade de Saussure, Program Coordinator for GSS Continuing Education Department (Conference Planning Committee Chairs).

The conference has already attracted a few dozen organizations that will be there tabling with useful information as well as the Huffington Post and Global Grind as media partners. Attendees will also be treated to the talented spoken word artists from Urban Word NYC, an arts education and youth development organization; as they share pieces on stopping violence and how violence itself has affected them. Urban Word NYC is located at 242 W 27th St in Manhattan.

The event is free and open to all and will take place in the Pope Auditorium at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus located at 113 west 60th Street. For more information email dyer@fordham.edu or call 212-636-6623.

WE DID IT!!!!!! AND ITS ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!

$30,517. That’s right. $5,517 OVER our goal! Your loving support has helped us raise this money and we are bursting with gratitude. The girls we serve are one step closer to freedom, and it is because of YOU!

We have identified our group of young girls that have been trapped in this horrible sex trade. They are so excited to enter this program. Our founder Brittanie has been meeting with them regularly for the last few weeks: playing games, reading books, watching movies, having meals, things 10 year old girls should be doing–not selling their bodies for in brothels for 20 cents. Your donations are literally helping these girls right now to leave this life and prepare for a life of nurturing, healing, education, and freedom!

We will keep you updated on the progress of the program and how the girls are doing. We hope you are as excited as we are!

In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter at @artnaboliton or like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/artandabolition?ref=br_tf so you can keep up with our efforts to rescue, heal and empower survivors of child sex slavery!

We wish each and every one of you Infinite love and gratitudel!! AND don’t forget to spread the word about http://www.theartandabolitionmovement.org/#!whatwedo/csgz!

Thanks Again!

Space Made!!!

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Preparing the bedroom for 2 girls whom we rescued yesterday from being sold to men 7 nights per week out of their home by their mother. I think spending their nights tucked away under this pink flowery blanket will be a lot more fun for these kiddos They will stay in my home until we launch our Safe Homes program soon.

Every $750 we raise over our goal will house a girl like these 2 for a full year in one of our Safe Homes.

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If you’ like to give to this program you can do so for only the next 15 hours now at 

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. We Surpassed Our Goal!!!!!!!

10456271_759848166587_4500572292324425170_nThanks to the 391 Backers who backed our kickstarter campaign and helped us surpass our $25k goal!!! Right now we’re at 25,873.

But you can still help!http://kck.st/1sSaugD

Every $100 past our goal pays for clothing and shoes for a child for one year.

Every $500 past our goal helps to provide medical, therapy and dental visits for one year.

Every $750 past our goal houses a survivor in our “Safe Homes” program for one year.

Every $1000 past our goal covers school tuition/books/supplies for one girl for a year.

You have 37 hours to help us keep girls safe!!!!

Donate now! http://kck.st/1sSaugD   #bringbackourgirls

Light A Candle Sex For Sale

This is reprint from my comrade and sister in abolition Brittanie Richardson’s blog

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Firstly they have been crazy busy. I am so sorry for being so behind on emails, fb messages, voxers etc. I promise to get caught up soon. I read them all and they warm my heart. Just haven’t had time to reply.

They have also been the most joyful and heartbreaking couple of weeks I’ve had in quite a while. I’d say this experience has been very equal parts joyful and heartbreaking. I get home each night and either fall on my bed overcome with tears of gratefulness for the amazing day I had seeing His glory be made manifest in His little princesses’ lives, or I come home and never make it to my bed before I fall to my knees from heart ache as hot tears cascade down my face as I reflect on the horrors I saw that day happening to His precious children- in the brothels, in their homes, in the hidden places. For the past few weeks we have been recruiting girls for our program. We have been looking for children ages 16 and under who, because of poverty and/or pressure from their caregivers, are being forced to sell their bodies for their basic needs like food and school fees. Believe it or not, at first the process was really slow. We couldn’t find any girls who fit our criteria. After so many people had told me about the issues of children being sold for sex in the slums of Eastlands, we looked and looked and looked and didn’t find any. But then we realized we were looking in the wrong places. We were looking in the places we found girls in Mtwapa like popular night clubs and street corners. But all the girls we found there were like 18 and 19 years old. Still horrific and unjust, but not what we were looking for for our program. We went back to the drawing board and after exhausting all other options and almost giving up on Nairobi and deciding to go back to the coast to work, we decided to give it one more try. But this time we decided to break all the rules. We decided to go recruiting in the areas everyone told us was too dangerous and that the girls are “too far gone” and “beyond saving”, the places everyone warned me not to go and where many of our team members were afraid to go. We dedicated one weekend and sent two members of our team in. They went into little hidden brothels, nightclubs, and “guest rooms” really deep inside the slum. By Monday I had interviews set up with 12 of the most beautiful children in Kenya whom she had found there. Some of them were still drunk from the night before and a few quite hungover. One of our team members had literally dragged some from their drunken stupors to our office for their interviews. I looked at these girls and immediately my heart leapt with joy. I knew they were not “too far gone” or “beyond saving”. They were perfect! They were His! And He delights in them and therefore He WILL rescue them because He promises to. The realization that He decided to use us to do so wrecked me right where I was standing.

Over and over and over in the interviews I held 10,12, and 13 year old girls in my arms as they told me stories of being sold by their parents to men for as little 20 American cents. In the room right next to where I was conducting the interviews the rest of the children were playing games and doing art projects with two of our part time team members who live in Ethiopia, but have partnered with us in this work. Twelve times I went into the other room, called a girls name, she put down her crayons and cup of juice with a big smile on her face, then came into the office with me and one of our community workers and squirmed in her seat as I asked her “who brings money home for food in your family?” Almost simultaneously as the next question fell from lips tears would begin to fall from her eyes. “Where do you get the money from?” I’d ask. “wanaume (men)” she would say as her squirming became more like looking for a way of escape and her tears and snot began to wet her shirt. “Come here, honey” I’d say. I would hold her in my lap and press her head against my chest. It was painfully obvious that these children had never been held before. If your mother is selling you for a bag of flour it’s likely that you don’t often share an embrace. I would hold her and hold her until her body finally relaxed and she blurted out everything between heavy sobs. Time after time these small precious little girls would tell me about how every night their caregivers force them to go out and “find money”. Many of them are violently beaten if they don’t bring home anything. Many of the list of services the girls offered were the same:

One small bag of roasted peanuts: 35 cents

“shika shika” which is where a man can touch the child wherever he wants: 60 cents

sex: anywhere from 20 cents to $1.19

After a full night of “work” these children come home with a little as $3.50 and swollen, painful, infected vaginas. Each time the story was the same. And each time it broke my heart.

But even as I was sharing in the compassion and heartbreak that I know God feels as He also sits with me and listens to these stories, I also shared in His hope. I know its really strange and my whole team was looking at me like I was crazy. But after each session, the more my heart broke the more my joy also increased. I had the gifts of hope and joy so active in me because I could feel God’s presence and I knew that He had bought these girls to me not just to sit and listen to a sad story. But because He has a plan! He saw their suffering and sent people in to rescue them!! He heard their cry and He answered! He is the great rescuer! He is the great emancipator! He come for His children in the dark places!

From that batch of 12 we took 8 into our program. Some of those girls although their stories were completely unjust, didn’t fit our criteria. So what came next for the 8? We have an extensive authentication process that we do in order to make sure that the stories these kids are telling us are true. We do this not only because the stories are so horrifying that they are almost unbelievable, but also because many times children here are so desperate for help that they will say anything if they think they will get a meal out of it. So our recruitment team, social workers, pastor, community worker, project manager, and myself all have different roles in the authentication process where we do random house visits, night visits to clubs the kids work, undercover surveying of the girls as they are being sold, interviews with their caregivers, neighbors and friends, surprise visits to their schools, medical examinations etc etc. We are almost to the end of that process and are about to officially begin our programming in just 2 weeks.

Well… at least that’s how it’s supposed to happen. As you all probably know by now I have the tendency to break rules. Although the programing isnt supposed to officially start for two weeks I have already begun to spend many of my days with these girls just doing life and giving them little pieces of a childhood when I can. We have begun feeding them and having “family nights” which are so much fun. Our oldest girl is even in our full time care right now because after learning from us about her value and being fed daily she refuses to sell her body anymore so her mother kicked her out of the house. I never mind taking in another one of Abba’s favorite girls, even though my friends always yell at me and tell me we can’t afford it. We can’t. But He can :)

So as I said I am wading in the waters of both joy and heartbreak and seeing the fruit of both. The fruit of joy that compels me to love more, to keep going, to get out of bed and work even when I am completely exhausted like I have been for the past week. Its all worth it for the joy :) Also the fruit of heartbreak which compels me to love more as well, especially myself. It compels me to slow down when necessary and even to stop and take a break when I need to. I was hoping to take a little vacation earlier this month, but wasn’t able to. So I am taking one at the beginning of next month. I am so excited. I’ll be traveling to South Africa to see two of my best girlfriends. Spending time with them is always so refreshing. They were both married in December and I was a bridesmaid in both weddings. Im really looking forward to just relaxing and being girly and normal with two of my favorite people on the planet. Balance is so important.

I have also began a ritual of a lighting a candle every night. I light a candle and I unpack my heart. I give back to God everything that doesn’t belong to me: the stories, the responsibility to help all of them, the fear, everything. What a privilege it is to be able to light that candle. As I’m lighting my candle countless girls are preparing for another night of abuse and pain. But that too, I give to Him. He is the savior and I am not. He is the savior an I am not… Amen.

If you would like to donate to the rescue and rehabilitation efforts for our girls you can do so at the following link. Tuesday is the last day to give and we must receive 100% of our $25,000 goal for any of the donations to be processed. We are 72% of the way there. I really appreciate your support . https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/898632450/art-and-abolition-summer-arts-camp

 

To Whom Much Is Given-Much Is Required

   countdown_02Sometime I ask myself why am i working so hard for battered women that i don’t even know? why do i drag myself out of my comfortable bed, off my couch and comfort to travel across the country to sit and be and talk with people that i often don’t agree with and sometimes don’t even like:) Why do i go so hard for projects half way cross the world when i have my own projects and my own dreams that i want to see realized…
i am not perfect-i can be judgey and self righteous, i have blind spots and it’s really hard for me to release grudges

but in the end I am a servant….I know that I AM here because someone thought my life was worthy – someone worked in a field and kept me in mind, someone said yes when they really wanted to say no….someone gave a damn about me before i was even born….but more than all of that, i do a ton of shit that i don’t feel like doing because I feel in my bones that what happens to one of us happens to all of us

and then i read words like this “Over and over and over in the interviews I held 10,12, and 13 year old girls in my arms as they told me stories of being sold by their parents to men for as little 20 American cents.”

this is crazy to me- i know we all have so much pulling at us – we have bills-we have responsibilities- i get it- but we are soooo fortunate in this country – we are so lucky that and we pretty much don’t have worry that someone is going to snatch us off the street and sell us or our children for 20 cents…..this shit is real…so real….so real that we want to turn a blind eye- and turn up the tv or buy another cup coffee -but we cant – this is happening and you can do something to help…today here http://kck.st/1sSaugD

We’ve Got Ten Days Left . Let’s Get This Right!

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We are a little more than halfway through the Art and Abolition kickstarter campaign for our Summer Arts Camp for survivors of child sex slavery – http://kck.st/1sSaugD. The purpose of the camp is to bring healing through the arts and equip survivors with tools for success in their new lives. To date, our collective action has raised $14,266!!

We are profoundly grateful for the support that has poured into this project.The results in Nairobi and the US have been nothing less than miraculous!! However, we must reach our $25,000 goal to make this camp a reality.

This camp will not happen without you. If everyone who sees this donates $1, $5 or $15 and passes this post on to others that do the same we will reach our goal and the lives of 20 girls will be changed. Please Donate to http://kck.st/1sSaugD today. We’ve got 10 days to get this right!

Yesterday the bad ass all girl skate team,GIRLS for GIRLS see below held a Skate-A-Thon for Art the campaign!!!

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And the boys joined in!!

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My youngest Art & Abolition Ambassadors spent their time making bracelets to sell at the event! These girls could have done anything with their weekend but chose to make a difference instead!

 

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And the community supported!

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#Bringbackourgirls

countdown_20The @artnabolition kickstarter campaign has now raised more than 9000.00 in less than 2 weeks!!! The Art and Abolition Summer Arts Camp is the first step in our long term vision to provide both healing and education for 20 girls rescued from child sex slavery.

No amount is to small! A donation of 25.00 is enough to pay for a pediatric gynecological exam for childhood survivors of sex slavery. Donate today