Three Generations For Dressember
Belgium is home to waffles, chocolate, and this beautiful family that is three generations deep into Dressember! This is Christel's second year wearing a dress every day of December and she was eager to participate this time around with both her mother, Suzanne, and six-year-old daughter, Noor. These three lovely females were generous enough to virtually sit down with us and chat about all things Dressember: the motivations, the challenges and the many reasons #itsbiggerthanadress.
Having been raised herself in Michelin, a mid-sized city in Flanders, Belgium, Suzanne has grown deep roots within her community. Her daughter, Christel, raised in the same city, informs us that Michelin is very beautiful and finds itself home to many immigrants and refugees. In fact, two of Noor's classmates are refugees from Syria who came fleeing from the war. These day-to-day connections make human trafficking all the more personal for them. "Everyone is confronted with refugees in some way, since they are our neighbors, go to our schools, and work in our stores," Suzanne explains. Many of her peers connect human trafficking to the European Refugee Crisis when she tells them about the mission of Dressember.
They certainly are not off-base to make such a connection. Refugees are among the most vulnerable people groups. Often, lacking financial resources and knowledge about the new city in which they find themselves and the language its citizens speak, refugees can easily fall prey to false job offers and find themselves violently trapped in the cycle of slavery.
These three compassionate advocates, like the rest of us, are concerned especially for the children trapped in such exploitative conditions. Suzanne, a primary school teacher, says, "I believe God created people to be free and children to have a happy and joyful childhood. That's my biggest motivation." Noor, even at such a young age understands that slaves are forced to work very hard without any pay and hopes that the children trapped "would be released soon."
Although some participants find wearing a dress to be the biggest challenge of Dressember, these ladies actually enjoy the required attire! Noor says, "I love wearing dresses everyday!" No, for them, the hardest part is mustering up the courage to ask for funds. Christel shares, "Asking people to give money is never something people enjoy doing." Still, she "forces herself" to email friends and family every day to share the facts and realities about human trafficking, "those numbers seem to help," she says. Suzanne has an even harder time sharing with friends and loved ones since she's not on Facebook or social media. "It's not something that comes up naturally in a conversation." Yet, those who know her appreciate and respect that she is doing this with her daughter and granddaughter. It is our closest family and friends who are depending on us, as advocates, to continue declaring the truth about inherent human dignity and worth. It's a good reminder that our platform doesn't have to span the globe for us to be intentional with the influence we have, and to me, that is the definition of a successful campaign.
I love what Suzanne has to say about this movement being bigger than a fashion statement, "Thinking about children who are stuck in modern-day slavery breaks my heart. They are so defenseless against adults with bad intentions who take advantage of them and there is nothing they can do. That's why I decided to participate to help to put an end to [these] situations. Most people my age are aware that things like that happen. We have seen evil. But that doesn't mean we should just stand by. People from every generation, so mine as well, should raise their voice and make a stand against injustice. So that many children and young [people] shall be freed." Maybe, as we grow older, there is a temptation to lose our passion for changing the world. In the face of cynicism, how do we choose to believe that slavery can truly be abolished--and that, by wearing a dress? Maybe it starts with the stories. Stories of survivors, rescued from appalling situations and moving on to dream again. Stories of advocates from all parts of the world--even sub-freezing temperatures--joyfully joining the movement. Stories of people from every generation, denying their insecurities and bravely speaking about realities they can no longer ignore. We must continue to share these stories--for that is our greatest asset in this fight to eradicate human trafficking from the world.
About the Author
Allyss Flores is finally a grown up, having turned 30 this year. She is grateful that now, thanks to Dressember, she can fight for justice every December regardless of her life circumstance. Aside from advocating and telling stories, Allyss loves to raise her two small children with her husband deep in the heart of Texas.