Social media can be an amazing thing sometimes. It has the power to create so many opportunities for us to connect to incredible people and causes all around the world. We live in an age where no matter where you live or what you do, you can help fight evil in the world. I came across Steve's story when my cousin posted a photo of one of his longboards on Instagram, adding that the owner of this board shop was "selling most of his stuff and moving to Thailand to support an organization that combats human trafficking." I was so interested in this idea that I emailed Steve that day to find out more about what he was doing to see how I could help (and get one of his boards).
In my email I asked him how people could donate to his cause and his response was that while he needed the money for his upcoming trip, he didn't feel right asking because "there's so many people who need it much more than I do and I have something to offer in my boards, so I'd rather sell them to make the money." I think what he's doing is extraordinary, and although I can't pack up and do what he's doing, what I can do (and you as well) is share his story and try and help him raise the funds to save the lives of children across the globe.
Please read his story, check out the organization that he's going to volunteer with, and help spread the word of this great cause. And then buy one of his boards. Even if it's not for you, give it as a gift or hang it on the wall as a reminder that we are all part of the same world and every little bit you do can make a difference!
Hi Steve, let’s start with the big one. What led to your decision to leave behind your business and home and travel to Thailand to fight against human trafficking?
Well my family has always been very active about fighting human trafficking. A few years ago my family started a 5K that benefits the fight. My sister had gone to Thailand on a missions trip as well and has been wanting to go back ever since. Recently she decided that now is the time to go.
She's a single mom with two kids, and I am very close with her and my nephew and niece. I hated the idea of her going alone, and since this is already an issue I am very involved in, I figured why not step up to the plate as a brother and an uncle and go on this journey. I have always been one to pursue the unknown, especially when it involves risk and adventure.
That’s so cool. Have you done much long term traveling before? What’s your mindset like getting ready to leave for so long?
I haven't done much long term traveling. I travel all the time and I am never home, but my trips are usually weeks, not months.
Since January I have been home maybe a total of a month. I have been out to the west coast, saw the frozen Niagara Falls, been out to California to film music videos, did some sailing in the Bahamas, and right now I am in Ukraine.
So as far as mindset goes, I haven't really thought about it! I am excited and honored to be able to go and be with my family when they need me. I think actually moving to the other side of the world will sink in when I can sit still for a second, which might not be until the week before I leave.
So tell us about the organization you’ll be working with.
My sister got a position with an organization called Destiny Rescue in Thailand and I will be volunteering to do whatever they need me to do. I am planning on helping out on the streets, and I will be offering my video & film expertise as well.
From their website:
Destiny Rescue is a grassroots, internationally recognized, Christian based, non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We help rescue the sexually exploited and enslaved, restore the abused, protect the vulnerable, empower the poor and are a voice for those that can’t speak up for themselves.
We currently operate our various programs in five nations: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, and India. We also have offices in three donor nations: United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Our efforts are making a huge difference, too. We’ve rescued hundreds of children enslaved around the world, helped keep hundreds more from entering the sex-trade through our various prevention programs, ensured justice for those that have been wronged and have raised awareness to untold numbers. And, we’ll continue to expand to help reach even more children in the days ahead!
When do you leave and how long will you be there?
We are leaving in July and the plan right now is to be there about nine months, maybe a year. After that I might be ready to come back home to Minnesota and start building boards for the summer.
That sounds like an amazing opportunity. Do you have any advice to people who want to stand up against injustices like this but can’t go to places themselves to volunteer?
I would just say get informed. I sincerely believe that most people aren't doing anything because they just don't know. The second you are informed and educated on the issue, you will come up with ways to help and stand up.
When you hear and understand what's going on, I don't think that you'll be able to just do nothing.
How can people help support your trip?
Right now I don't have a donation page, but if someone wanted to donate money towards this project I wouldn't turn them down. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and people can email me and I will let them know how they can help. Otherwise I am just selling long boards for the summer to raise money for the trip. They can contact me via email or check out my Instagram page @ivylongboards