Some students at the University last weekend dealt with issues beyond that of love or the lack of it. Not For Sale (NFS), a social activist organization at the University, hosted its second annual Eden Ministry Jewelry Sale. The sale occurred on Friday, February 12 in Usdan and on Saturday, February 13 in the Exley Science Center.
According to NFS co-chair Angela Chung ’18, all proceeds went to the Eden Ministry, an organization that provides jobs and empowerment for women in shelters in Southeast Asia. Chung’s inspiration for the club came in part from her experience attending a Comfort Women Conference during her senior year of high school.
“Seeing how the history of Comfort Women is something that people have not learned from, meaning sexual slavery is a global issue today, [Hanseol Song ’15] and I wanted to focus primarily on organizing relief programs for that issue,” Chung wrote in an email to The Argus. “Eden Ministry coincidentally fit NFS’s primary mission so well: providing careers, shelters, medical clinics to women who desired to escape red light districts in Southeast Asia. They also ran educational outreach programs to high school girls who are emotionally and socioeconomically vulnerable to go into that.”
The partnership between NFS and Eden Ministry came to fruition last year when Chung shared her plans to create a club that generates awareness about human trafficking with her friend and current secretary of NFS Laurel QingXian Comins-Sporbert ’18.
“It [just so happened] that [Comins-Sporbert]’s boyfriend’s mother works for an international jewelry business called Eden Ministry, where the jewelry is handmade by sex-trafficked survivors,” Chung wrote. “After speaking on the phone with [Comins-Sporbert’s boyfriend,] Erik Hall’s [’16] mother and researching into what they do, [Song] and I were gung-ho about making this NFS’s first major event—since it would be a great way to introduce this new club to students, and Eden Ministry’s trafficking relief mission resonated with our purpose of NFS.”
The sale that occurred last weekend was the second annual sale that NFS has hosted at the University. The first one occurred last spring, before Mother’s Day. This year, NFS opted to have the sale before Valentine’s Day in the hopes of attracting business from those in search of last minute Valentine’s Day gifts.
“Our sale last year was a huge success and blessing because we made over $1500—we had four sales in total last year,” Chung wrote. “It was definitely something Eden Ministry did not expect for a small team of college students to execute. The two sales we had this weekend did not make as much as last year, but we still had a good turnout, considering how cold this weekend was.”
Despite the smaller turnout this past weekend, NFS and the sale have a message to all that remains strong and pertinent.
“The name ‘Not for Sale’ gets to the heart of our message: No human being should have a price tag or be exploited in inhumane ways,” the NFS website reads. “With the community of student activists on campus, we aim to combat human trafficking by raising awareness, fundraising for relief programs, and volunteering at survivors’ recovery centers. Our mission is to transform the lives of trafficked victims and survivors through empowerment, hope, and love.”
Comins-Sporbert sees the sale as a good step on the path toward making a difference in the lives of those who have suffered as a result of trafficking.
“Eden Ministries does very humbling work, providing an alternative for many who never had a choice to make for themselves,” Comins-Sporbert wrote in an email to The Argus. “Helping this ministry is one concrete way I can show my support. It’s not enough just to talk about how great what they are doing is or how upset sex trafficking makes me. Selling this jewelry for the women making them means I am not only supporting them but also bringing attention to their stories through Eden Ministries.”
Chung described the sale that NFS held this weekend as a particularly important one because the money earned went directly back to those who needed it: the survivors of trafficking who made the jewelry.
“All contribution and help fuels Eden Ministry’s goal of providing jobs to women who escape prostitution or sexual slavery and to funding their other beneficial programs including shelters, medical clinics, and outreach,” Chung wrote. “I hope students at Wesleyan can use their voice to speak up for those whose voices are silenced, whether it be getting involved in organizations that empower people who are unjustly oppressed or showing up to events that [give] aid back to those who need it.”