Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Meet Our Summer Interns!

Anna Smith
     Hello! My name is Anna and I am an Admin Intern at Nomi Network. I am a recent graduate from Adelphi University and am going on to pursue my Clinical Social Work degree at Fordham University in the Fall. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and have attended Catholic school since kindergarten. The big apple has been my home and stomping ground for quite some time, it’s interesting to be returning from 4 long years of living in Long Island full time for school. Some things I love are music, singing, reading, listening to others, and laughing till I cry (it’s the best). 

     So, now that you know a little bit about me; let’s jump right into the why. I am a part of a summer immersion program called New York City Urban Project (NYCUP). This program works to develop leaders with the capacity to change the world. This is done through having open and honest conversations about injustices and seeing God’s ability to restore and renew these issues. My participation in this program has given me so much thus far, particularly my internship here at Nomi Network. I really admire and stand by the mission of Nomi and it is such an honor to be a participant in that work. I hope you all are ready to hear some amazing stories and to take this journey with me as I learn from the amazing and powerful women of Nomi. Buckle up ya’ll!

Brianna Copeland
     Hey there! I’m Brianna and I am the Creative/Social Media Intern at Nomi Network this summer! I am currently a senior attending James Madison University majoring in Studio Art with a Photography concentration! I love photography, graphic design, sculpture and printmaking and I’m a big art museum geek. I’m a dog person (never cats) and I enjoy volunteering at my local animal shelter. I’m actually from a small city right outside Washington DC, where I was born and raised. It was always really cool growing up so close to the nation’s capital, going on field trips to the White House and Smithsonian Museums and to the National Mall on the weekends. 

     I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be working with Nomi. This summer I am also a part of the Summer Leadership Immersion Program with the New York City Urban Project (NYCUP). I actually attended NYCUP the Spring break of my freshman year and the Thanksgiving break of my sophomore year so I’m really familiar with the program and all the incredible work they do. Through this internship I want to be able to share the stories of the girls making all of Nomi’s incredible products and to help give them a voice. I have already learned so much from everyone working here at Nomi and I am excited to continue creating content to get their name out there. 

Julia Washburn
      My name is Julia Washburn and I’m a Summer Intern at Nomi Network. I’m a rising junior at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and major in Political Science with minors in Sustainable Development and Health, Medicine & Society. I play on the Varsity Field Hockey Team and am a member of Lehigh’s branch of SALSC (Student Athletes Leading Social Change). I also love going to yoga, watching movies, running with my dog and spending time with my friends! 

      I learned about Nomi Network through my home church, Central Presbyterian Church, in Summit, New Jersey. I was immediately drawn to the work that Nomi does, as one of my big areas of focus in school, as well as in my career aspirations, is human rights. I intend on going to law school to study International Human Rights law so that I can protect, and obtain justice for, those whose fundamental rights have been violated. I hope that through my internship at Nomi I can gain further insight into creating sustainable solutions to pervasive human rights issues. Furthermore, I want to become a more socially conscious and ethical consumer.  I am so excited to have the opportunity to be part of an organization that is making a major difference in the lives of so many women and bettering the lives of future generations.

Chloe Chang
Hi, I'm Chloe and I'm currently a sophomore at George Washington University studying International Affairs. I was born in New York, but now I'm living in New Jersey enjoying the beautiful beaches. During the school year, I love exploring new food places and neighborhoods in DC while going to school at GW. I am on the Creative Team for TEDxFoggyBottom where we put on a conference for 1300 people each year with 20 speakers. It is one of the most labor-intensive but rewarding experience that I have ever been on. I'm also passionately involved with my local chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and I'm missing all of my friends there especially our spontaneous card games that happen anywhere at anytime. I am looking to potentially concentrate in International Development and was drawn to Nomi's cause to fight human-trafficking. I have a heart for the oppressed and for social justice, especially after attending an urban project in Southeast DC. I love working with the incredible women at Nomi and I am constantly inspired by their grace and beauty. When not in the office, I spend my hours baking different desserts, pretending to be a monster with my two little brothers and drawing in my notebook. I am so excited for this summer and what God has in store!

Catherine Fowler 
My name is Catherine Fowler and I am the Sales and Marketing intern at Nomi Network. I study politics, economics, and law at SUNY Old Westbury and I am going into my senior year. I am very active on my campus in advocating for social justice. I love international relations and I participate annually in the National Model United Nations Conference to grow in knowledge of various global issues while learning to strategically create solutions. When I am not in school, I enjoy singing and playing music. I play the ukulele, guitar, banjo, string bass and bass guitar. I would pursue music full time if I did not have a passion for law and justice. I am living in New York City for the summer and I have loved meeting new people and seeing the passion that so many New Yorkers have for their work. My long-term goal is to work for the United Nations focusing on human rights law. Interning at Nomi Network has shown me new areas of injustice that I was not as knowledgeable about, and I have enjoyed doing work behind the scenes to help women across the world. It is comforting to know that although we might not see it, the work we do here every day directly affects the lives women and children in India and Cambodia for the better. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Journey Through India

I arrived back in the states a few weeks ago after a 10 day trip to visit Nomi's programs in India - and it was an incredible adventure that stretched my heart and made my soul sore. I'm bursting with pride after seeing the deep impact that Nomi is having on the ground, and at the same time, I'm completely humbled by the strength, beauty and resilience of the women in our programs who are the true heros. They have endured so much hardship and disappointment in their lives, and yet they have still stepped out in faith, giving us their trust, and they are flourishing.

We had a group of five traveling - myself; George Nomi's board chair; Andreas a Filmmaker; Zad a foundation analyst; Maria a India-based volunteer; and my husband David a University Chaplin. Each person brought an extraordinary amount to the group - warmth, openness, encouragement and curiosity towards our journey.

We started off in the capital city of Delhi where we had a series of meetings at USAID and had the immense privilege of hearing from the Gates foundation India office as well. We are building a strong connection to this city where our legal council and financial council is based. Meeting these advisors in-person was a wonderful learning experience - deeply enlightening to the bureaucracy of such a large country with such a deep history of colonialism. India only gained it's independence 67 years ago!

We spent several days at our program site and with the women in our programs in Bihar, India. There are 100 million people in the northern state of Bihar alone, and it is the home to many of the lowest caste families and individuals who are systematically oppressed. These were some of my top highlights and observations:

- The emotional transformation - the confidence, hopefulness and positivity of the women in our program verse other women in the community was stark - it was in their welcoming smiles, the way that they cared for one another, the way they sang songs in the morning together to start the day, the way they pulled their sewing machine work-stations together so that they could share about their days with one another as they sewed Nomi product
- The economic impact was so real - the women in our program who have been a part of our beginning and advanced training curriculum are making incredible headway in applying their entrepreneurial training and starting their own businesses - from purchasing livestock and selling chickens, goats, and cows milk at market, or purchasing their own sewing machines in order to open their own tailoring business - they are making huge stride towards financial independence! 
We saw holistic care in action - the women in our program were being cared for, not just financially, but through advocacy and legal training, through solidarity, through a partnership with a trustworthy medical clinic in Bihar, and through love and care for their children
- Our program model is scaleable to create change - we saw with our own eyes some of the strongest leaders in our program begin to deliver our training curriculum in a neighboring red-light district, to a new cohort of women, with great success 
- Our commitment - again and again we heard the women saying - we didn't believe in Nomi at first because we've experienced so many broken promises before - but now we know that when Nomi says that they are going to do something, they follow through - they are committed and consistent - our persistence has been met by a deepening of trust, and we take this very seriously and we continue to cast vision to expand our work!

- Finally, I want to share the story of sweet Dara:
Dara was born into a family that practices intergenerational prostitution. Her mother was forced into prostitution by her in-laws and her husband. When Dara's grandparents passed, Dara's mom put her foot down - she did not want her daughters to be forced to follow in her footsteps. She was wary of Nomi at first because other NGOs in the past have made promises that they didn't keep, but after careful consideration she and Dara both enrolled in Nomi's training program. Dara excelled - after only a few months she advanced to sewing the most difficult patterns. She was eager to learn and a hard worker and this year we promoted Dara to logistic manager. She has now been helping Nomi to survey a new red-light district a few hours away where Nomi will soon be training another cohort of women. She speaks about Nomi's work with great passion as she assesses and surveys the new community.

Thanks to each of you for your wonderful support of Nomi Network! We cherish your generosity and your commitment to creating economic opportunities for women who are survivors and women at-risk of human trafficking. 


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Part of Something Bigger

Santhosh Paulus

  1. Why do you give?
I feel blessed to have what I have.  It wasn’t in my control where I would be born or to whom.   I have many opportunities that were not in my control. This is why I want to give, because I’ve received so much, it makes me want to give to those who don’t have as much.

  1. How did you first learn about Nomi Network?
I first heard of NOMI’s work through my wife, who was blogging for NOMI. She first heard about NOMI through Facebook.

  1. Why were you drawn to Nomi’s mission?
I am a father of four girls and I could not begin to imagine nor would I want to imagine being so desperate to consider trafficking my own children.  

I love how NOMI offers those rescued a way to stay out of trafficking by giving them the skills necessary to provide for themselves and their families.  A great example of “teaching them how to fish” and not just giving them a fish. I love how it empowers women and girls to make it in this world who very often are not offered these opportunities.

  1. Were there any instances or experiences in your life that caused you to want to do something about human trafficking?
I was attending Soulfest in New Hampshire a Christian Music Festival and heard some facts and statistics on human trafficking during a talk and was shocked by how prevalent it was worldwide and how prevalent it was across both big and small towns all across America.

  1. The issue of human trafficking is an upsetting violation of human rights. Why do you think this issue has become so wide spread?
It is pure evil when any human can willingly and knowingly subject another to be sold for sexual exploitation and financial profit. It is a lucrative business where many have turned a blind eye to the reality of what happens and so it continues where those with power bully the weak and desperate. As far as a business…it’s about supply and demand.  The fact there is demand is evidence of the evil in our world.

  1. Why are you hopeful about Nomi’s approach to end modern day slavery?
Nomi’s approach is very practical. Once a woman or girls is rescued, Nomi provides the training they need to help them become self sufficient.  The simplicity and practicality of Nomi’s approach to end modern day slavery is the strength of Nomi Network’s philosophy.

  1. What’s your most memorable moment working with Nomi Network and why?
My most memorable moment in working with Nomi is a recent one, when Diana came to Cycling For Change’s First Gala in October of this year. Witnessing her share her passion as to how Nomi came to existence and why she does what she does in a room full of people who were riveted to every word she was sharing.  It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.  We were all riding on the line of shock and hope. Shock of how awful and terrible the realities of human trafficking are for so many in our world and the hope Nomi is offering those fortunate to have been rescued.

  1. How has your commitment to Nomi Network changed you personally?

It is good to be a part of something bigger than myself.  By working with Nomi I feel a sense of fulfillment in how I spend my time.  As a physician and father of four, time is a precious commodity and the time I spend in helping Nomi is time well spent for me. I am happy to think of the lives that are changed because of our efforts. Personally my commitment to Nomi Network has given me a sense of happiness and fulfillment.

  1. Why do you wish other people would know about Nomi Network?

I wish others would know about Nomi Network so they could get involved in their own way.  Either to contribute financially or with their time and to use their gifts and talent to help Nomi continue their work or to partner along side them to bring awareness to their work. Whatever way people choose to get involved, it does not matter, as long as they get involved and are able to experience the joy of being a part of something special, because what Nomi is doing is something special.

  1. In the next five years, why is it crucial for others to get involved?
The reason why I believe the next five years are crucial is similar to attaining glucose control in a diabetic.  The sooner the better. Getting control of your sugar over a period of years and getting control over a period of months is very different as far as long term complications.  Shame on us as humanity to not get involved and help end this modern day slavery.  The complications and long term negative effects are minimized with earlier control in diabetes and the same is true for humanity in ending human trafficking. We need help to attain this goal. We can’t do this by ourselves, it is crucial for others to get involved.  

My name is Santhosh Paulus. I am a father of 4 beautiful princesses and married to the most beautiful person in the world. I am a Family Medicine Physican and also am the founder and president of Cycling For Change (c4c).  I started c4c to help end human trafficking by offering hope to those who feel trapped in it. We all need help at times and can’t make it alone.  The worst thing is to feel alone and that there is no hope in the midst of a terrible situation. Cycling For Change is here to offer hope…because HOPE changes everything!

Make your difference today and donate to Nomi Network!


Monday, November 23, 2015

When A Little is Everything

It was, in a sense, an ordinary Sunday in New York: Church, bagels, cream cheese and coffee. I didn’t expect many attendees at the early service and that didn’t matter to me. I learned a long time ago that spreading the word about ending human trafficking isn’t always about impacting the masses. It’s about connecting with one person who cares enough to see their life, their actions, their commitment changed forever. That’s how the ripple effect happens and that’s why the Nomi story is so powerful.

What I didn’t imagine on that Sunday morning, was that I was the one to be changed.

After the service, a woman came up to me and fumbled through her pockets for a few dollar bills and coins. I knew she was living on the streets because I had seen her park her grocery cart at the entrance to the church. I knew that woman with her smile and sparkling eyes was giving me more than she could reasonably afford to give to fight trafficking and provide an empowering future to women like her, who needed a chance. For a split second everything in my heart wanted to yell out, “No.” You can’t. You shouldn’t. And yet, I knew in that moment it would not be accepting the generous gift she was making, nor her dignity and the dignity of her contribution — nor the lesson she was teaching me.
She told me she looked forward to coming every Sunday and to sipping on a cup of coffee and eating a couple of tasty NYC bagels. She smiled. And without further ado, I grabbed a piece of paper and made a donation slip.

“I want to help,” she said. “This is the only way I know how. It’s not much...” I answered, “It’s everything.”

We smiled and hugged and talked about what we could do, together, to fight and overcome inequality in the world. I’ll never forget her. On that Sunday, she taught me the difference between giving a lot and yet giving little, and giving what might seem to some a small monetary amount that is worth all our weight in gold.

By Sarah-Jane Murray
Nomi Network Board Member

Make your donation HERE.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nomi Gets a New Look

Nomi Network’s Graphic Designer, Janay Frazier, shares about Nomi Network’s new branding that will be revealed this August.

Nomi Network has grown and developed in many ways since its launch in 2009. As Nomi’s capacity and abilities expand, and as the times change, we seek to retain and hold strong to our core mission, doing so with an adaptive spirit that embraces fresh, new ways of communicating our values.

We recently revisited the branding of Nomi Network, giving it a facelift to retain retail relevance; “the purpose of the new logo is to modernize Nomi and allow us to enter our target retail space,” Janay Frazier, Nomi Network’s Graphic Designer, remarks (Janay headed up the rebranding, assisted by Nica Rabinowitz). She says that the new logo also coincides with Nomi’s new product development, and that “These products, along with the new logo, will help advance the Nomi brand.”

The new logo is a modernized rebrand of Nomi Network’s original logo. Janay explains that companies are shifting from singular icons as logos towards typographic logos, so she chose to implement this shift when working on the rebranding. Describing the meaning behind the new typographic logo, Janay says it “represents breaking from bondage and joining a network that supports and uplifts. The breaks of gaps in the letters that spell out ‘Nomi’ suggest freedom and the script typeface [of the word ‘network’]… represents unification through a network like our training programs."

The new logo will be used starting with new product collections that come out in August and September. The rebranding also includes a re-designed website that will launch in August. “[The rebranding] was my first project as Nomi’s Graphic Designer,” Janay says, “and I am truly proud and excited about where Nomi will go next with its new facelift.” Make sure to keep your eyes open for products with our new logo as they are released in the next months!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nomi's Design Competition Winner, 2015

Kristen Wong, a fashion design student at Marist College from Massachusetts, is no stranger to the problem of unethical labor. Kristen’s grandmother told her stories of living in America when she was younger; her grandmother worked hard to raise a family, took night classes to learn English, and worked as a seamstress. Though her grandmother sewed luxury clothing worth hundreds of dollars as a seamstress, she didn’t receive fair wages and earned very little per garment that she completed. So when Kristen heard about the Nomi Network X Marist College Design Competition, a competition where Marist College students can design a new Nomi garment, she remembered her grandmother’s story and decided to enter. She says she “hoped that through this, my designs will mean something to women everywhere affected by these unethical treatments of workers.”

While her family experiences influenced Kristen’s interest in entering the competition, Indian culture influenced her design. The unisex T-shirt she designed, complete with a pocket, has a sari-like wrap around it, reminiscent of the common Indian garment. The design on the T-shirt blends Nomi Network’s logo with traditional woodblock printing. Finally, the color schemes of both versions of the T-shirt reflect common colors of Indian clothing. Kristen wanted to produce a garment reflective of Indian culture to “embody the Nomi message,” highlighting the beauty of the culture from which the women in our India program come.

Kristen says that through this competition, she learned her own influence and abilities in bringing awareness and support to organizations like Nomi Network. When asked what the future looks like for her, Kristen says, “I hope to continually be involved with the Nomi Network and try to find a way to assist in helping to fight unethical labor and human trafficking… as part of being the next generation of designers in the fashion industry, I hope to make an impact when designing garments.” She wants to fight unethical labor and communicate to consumers the great value that each laborer has. This desire is right in line with what Nomi does; certified by the Fair Trade Federation, all of the women in our programs receive fair wages (in fact, they receive every penny from the clothes and products that are sold on buyherbagnotherbody.com). In the very country Kristen modeled her designs after, work is being done to fight for the rights of laborers. We’re grateful to Kristen for her good work and example of using her talents to fight injustice, and we congratulate her on being the winner of our competition!

All images taken from Kristen's submission for the Nomi Network X Marist College Design Competition.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

When The Light Came On: Lunch & Learn

My heart became burdened about modern-day slavery at the Passion Conference of 2013. We heard a talk from Gary Haugen (the president of International Justice Mission), testimonies of trafficked victims, and a panel conversation about how to integrate fighting slavery into daily life. For the first time, I really became troubled by human trafficking, and compelled to take action against it.

It’s to the Passion Conference that my mind returns now, because it’s where the light came on for me. Recently, I watched the light come on for several other people.

Nomi Network hosted a “Lunch & Learn” two Thursdays ago that I was privileged to attend. A “Lunch & Learn,” in essence, is an event Nomi Network hosts where representatives from Nomi speak about the problem of human trafficking, how Nomi sustainably fights trafficking, and the history and uniqueness of our organization. Attendees listen for half an hour or so as our representatives share, and then they have the opportunity to ask any questions they have.

Maria, our Operations & Special Projects Manager, led us in discussing statistics about trafficking, covering definitions of what trafficking is, and revealing the pervasiveness of the problem, even in the US. The attendees were attentive and curious, and asked a lot of questions even at the beginning. Next (as we enjoyed pizza), we heard Jessica Hirsch, our Sales & PR representative, describe the ins and outs of Nomi Network, including its mission, its history, and the success Nomi has had in both India and Cambodia. I myself learned new information from listening to Jessica, and was reminded afresh of the powerful ways that Nomi is shifting the attitudes towards trafficking on a cultural level in India and Cambodia. We ended with a time for questions, and finally wrapped up the official discussion as people mingled, bought products, asked final questions, and went back to their work days.

Watching people come to a fuller understanding of the pervasiveness of human trafficking, and then respond accordingly, reminded me of a few things:

1. Many people may not be aware of the devastating realities of human trafficking and modern-day slavery in general.

It’s easy for me to forget about the days before human trafficking truly became an issue to me; right now, I’m steeped in learning about it as an intern for Nomi. I learn more every day, and I’ve got a lot of learning yet to do! Wherever you are on the scale of awareness, I think we can always learn more, and I invite you to do a little research (End It and Polaris are a couple great sources). Pick three friends and share what you learned with them!

2. Many people have an innate impulse to stand up against injustice, but may not know how.

I gave money and participated in Passion’s “End It” movement, but didn’t know what to do next. If you identify with this, start off small! Pick and stick with an organization (I’m a little biased, but Nomi’s a great one!), and get involved. Could you donate money? Raise awareness by promoting them through your social media networks? I think the best way to fight injustice is to get behind organizations with the vision that you really identify with.

3. Many people have connections and outlets they could leverage to help fight injustice.

I’m definitely still working on this one. Think of people and organizations in your life that you could get involved in the fight against injustice. Could you create a campaign to raise money through your club or your church? Do you have favorite stores that might be willing to sell products made by survivors of human trafficking? Use your creativity!

I was reminded of these things, and felt a new appreciation for Nomi Network as an organization that meets people at all stages of awareness and involvement, communicating a call to action and providing a corresponding outlet for action. Jessica dubbed the attendees Nomi Network ambassadors following our Lunch & Learn, and rightly so; many people bought Nomi products for themselves or friends, remarked that they were interested in supporting Nomi in the future, and considered the contacts they had who might be able to help Nomi Network. Being a part of expanding Nomi’s network was rewarding and exciting!

How can you be a Nomi Network ambassador today? When did the lights come on for you about modern-day slavery and human trafficking?

Photo credit: Carmen Leung