February Spotlight on Service: Freecember

This month’s Spotlight on Service features the Freecember initiative, in which a group of TASIS faculty, students, and alums worked to end human trafficking.

The Freecember team included Ms. Kerry Guikema, former TASIS coach and substitute teacher and Area Director of Young Life International; Mr. Bowser, Upper School History teacher; Louise and Helena (Grade 9); Ty, Arabella, Stella, Thomas, and Lily (Grade 10); Jane (Grade 11); and Hannah and Molly (Grade 12). Upper School Service Ambassador Sora (Grade 12) talked with team members to learn more about their service initiative.

Freecember is a movement that takes place during December each year to raise money for charities working to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery. At the heart of Freecember is empowering everyday people to fund the frontlines of freedom by raising money and awareness for anti-trafficking non-profits they care about. According to sophomore Lily, “Modern slavery is an enormous issue which is impacted by our daily economic environment. Our clothing, phones, and food could all be connected to modern-day slavery in some way. It is important we bring awareness to this topic of exploitation, and we can be part of the solution by changing our purchasing decisions. Anyone and everyone can make a small difference.” 

To play their part, members of the TASIS Freecember team undertook challenges during the month of December to raise funds for their initiative. The wide range of challenges included walking 100 km, washing dishes, sewing facemasks, making bracelets, practicing piano, rowing, yoga, a "doodle a day," hockey stick tricks, writing notes, and doing a "rock/paper/scissors” challenge with a different person each day. Volunteers participated in their challenges consistently for a month and encouraged friends and family members to support the team’s efforts.

The initial idea for participating in Freecember came from students looking for opportunities for service within COVID-19 restrictions. To participate in Freecember safely, group members did their challenges individually and met as a group on Zoom. Louise (Grade 9) notes, “I really enjoyed having discussions with other students and seeing their interest in helping out the cause.”

The team successfully raised £3,182.13, all of which has been donated to the charity Chab Dai. The team had a meeting with the Executive Director and Founder of Chab Dai, Helen Sworn, and the charity is currently looking at how best to put this donation to good use. Possibilities include sponsoring 89 months of personal medical care or 20 months of sponsored legal and trial support for a survivor of human trafficking, purchasing 64 bikes for safer travel between home and work for those at risk, and securing airline tickets for repatriation.

Freshman Helena reflects, "It was a pleasure for me to take part in such a great initiative. I felt like what we were doing was really making a change, and I think everyone on the team worked hard to raise as much money as possible.”  Senior Molly adds, “Getting involved with Freecember was a great experience. It was inspiring to see how much awareness and money we could raise for such a pertinent issue when we came together as a group and a community. Those of us who have the privilege of freedom and safety have the obligation to support and speak out for those who do not, and I plan on continuing to get involved in such efforts in the future!” 

According to Ms. Guikema, “We originally set a goal of £1,200 but the team has raised £3,182.13! As important as the money piece was, it was also amazing to see the students raise awareness about modern-day slavery. TASIS families were very generous in getting behind the team and supporting our efforts! We definitely want to say a HUGE thank you to all the families who supported us. Also, a big thank you to TASIS for allowing us a "Purple Out" just before Winter Break! This experience was great, we can't wait to form a team again for Freecember 2021.”

Special thanks to Ms. Guikema, Mr. Bowser, and all of the Upper School students and alums for showing a great attitude towards fundraising to end serious modern issues.