5 Questions with Diana Scimone

Diana Scimone wants your money. More accurately, she wants 9,000 of you to give $9. On one day. 09-09-09.

hope watchingI know that leading with the appeal for money is pretty off-putting. I did it because I’m afraid that you might be like me. If I led with what she wants the money for, you might quit reading., even faster than you would quit reading when I talk about asking for money.

But you are better than me, more caring, more willing to read about really challenging stuff. So you are still here, reading.

Diana is one of two people I know who are all about stopping the sale of kids into slavery. I asked Diana five questions (like I did with Chris Brogan awhile back).

Here’s what she said:

1. There are hundreds of appeals that I read about every week. “Everyone” wants a piece of my attention, wallet, influence. Why, in 140 characters, should I care about Born 2 Fly?

Huge needs can make us feel helpless. B2F is problem/solution: A huge need but we can make a huge dif by educating at-risk kids & parents.
[2 characters to spare!]

2. In one article you wrote about trafficking, you mentioned Pattaya, Thailand as a particularly challenging place. I recognized the name. In 1980, it was the place where a group of Christians gathered to plan how to do outreach.Thirty years later, little trace. Do you every feel a gap between what people who call themselves Christians talk about doing…and the difference that actually is made?

All the time. Can I be blunt? Particularly in the church in the US, we are focused on building our own home-based agendas to the neglect of the only thing Jesus told us to do. He never told us to “stay.” He told us one word: “Go.” There was no qualifier to that.  It wasn’t”Go after you’ve got your act together.” He didn’t say “Go after you’ve got the youth pizza party organized.”

The early church in the book of Acts was constantly on the go. We’ve made going an addendum to our own agendas, when it is the agenda.

And “going” doesn’t have to be to Pattaya or the other side of the world; it can be to the other side of town or the other side of the street–the homeless shelter downtown or the abused child around the corner or the widow across the street. I guess you could say it’s going outside what’s comfortable or convenient to us.

When I was in Pattaya in 2002–a place known as the Sodom and Gomorrah of Asia–there were only 2 small Christian groups working there. One group was 2 women from the Netherlands who were reaching out to the prostitutes and others caught in trafficking. (And yes, prostitutes are trafficked; women rarely go into that line of work because it’s a career they’ve always dreamed of.) They taught them English, taught them other skills, and had a small house where they could stay if they wanted to leave that lifestyle and begin a new life. They had to raise all their own funds to do it. The other group was also 2 single women who had a beauty salon right in the red-light district; they would wash and shampoo the hair of the prostitutes and just love on them.

How incredible in a huge city like that there were only these 4 single women reaching out and trying to make a difference?  Today there is a lot more going on there, thank goodness, but why did it take so long?  Doesn’t the fact that there’s a section of the red-light district in Pattaya called “Boys’ Town” shake up anyone else but these handful of people?

I think one of the reasons we don’t “go” is because we don’t think we can make a difference. We’re overwhelmed by the need, so instead of doing something, we don’t do anything. But I believe God is pretty creative, and He can take whatever your giftings and longings and dreams are and use them to make a difference.

3. You are and have been a journalist. Do you ever feel like you have crossed a journalistic line, that the values of objective reporting clash with your desire to help people?

If I’m reporting on an event where there are sides to be taken, eg a political race, yes, I would have to stay objective. But going to a place like Sudan and reporting on what’s happened there–my purpose is to share the passion and even anger about what’s happening, to portray the emotions, to make people feel like they’re standing right there with me looking though a chain-link fence where refugees are broiling in the sun.

There’s a 2-minute video on the home page of the B2F website — called “Get Angry. Please.”  I think that’s probably my mantra with my journalism: “Here’s what’s happening. Please get angry about it. Now here are some of the things you can do about it.”

4. How significant has blogging, tweeting, and other social media been for extending the reach of B2f? Has involvement in this communication world helped you tangibly? (I mean, apart from us meeting.)

I’d count meeting @jnswanson one of the highlights of my social media experience. Even apart from that, it has been huge.  Every time I think, “You’re spending too much time on Twitter,” I connect with someone else (hopefully not just to my benefit, but to theirs, too).

All the anti-slavery organizations are Twittering, and it’s allowed us all to connect (not just in 140 characters, but through email, phones, our blogs, and more).

I’m not a big Facebook fan. My theory is that Facebook allows you to connect with people you already know, but Twitter allows you to connect with people you don’t know, but should.  Of my 1,500 followers on Twitter, I probably knew 10 of them pre-Twitter.  All the rest are new connections.

It has totally expanded the outreach of B2F. I’m blown away by the number of people, such as you, Jon, who’ve offered to help with our Twitterthon and are doing creative things to get the word out.  That has been huge for us. Our goal for the 1-day event is 9,000 people each giving $9 on 09-09-09. The only problem is I don’t know 9,000 people. But through Twitter I think we’re going to find them.

5. Are there other people, like me, who don’t want to write or talk about buying and selling people because it scrapes at their souls too much? How can you invite us to face ourselves?

“Get angry. Please.” I can’t tell you how many times when I speak, someone will walk into the room and say, “So-and-so didn’t want to come because she thought it was going to be too sad.”

Ooookay. Yes, the stories are sad, but not wanting to hear them doesn’t make them go away.  Back to my 140-character answer to your first question, I try to share the hope as well as the devastation.  Most kids get lured into slavery because they don’t know the tactics that traffickers use.  What if we could educate them ahead of time? What if we could connect with them and their parents? And what if we could do it in a way that doesn’t have to be translated into a thousand different languages? The rate of trafficking would plummet. That’s the hope behind the B2F Project. And that’s what I want to invite people to be part of.


Why this post, today?

Because 70 years ago today, Poland was invaded. People with the power to something, did nothing. A war happened, millions of innocent people died. Because 20 years ago today, our daughter died, victim of a genetic disorder but safe from trafficking–unlike a million kids every year. Because today, our other daughter (pictured above) watches me, needing to see a connection between what I say and what I do. Because in a week, Diana wants to get a bunch of people to help her make a difference. And she doesn’t know 9,000 people.

For more information, follow @09_09_09 or @dianascimone. And come back here next week. I’ll have more about helping.

Thank you, Diana.

To donate today, go to born2fly.org.


8 responses to “5 Questions with Diana Scimone

  1. Pingback: 5 Questions with Diana Scimone « Levite Chronicles | Breaking News 24/7

  2. Thanks for highlighting this. I just took action. I hope many others do too.

  3. Pastor,
    I like to think I am a person that cares and wants to do as much as possible but I could really relate to this article in the way you posed the 5 questions.

    Will be signing up today and posting a donate box on my blog as well (not much traffic there but hey….and of course I will be praying that the goal is reached.

    Keep the servant’s fire burning,

  4. bernard – one of the significant lessons of Diana’s approach is that every set of eyes, every click, matters. So thank you!

  5. Pingback: Twitted by Ed

  6. Thank you, Paul and Bernard! Great words and great encouragement, and we are so grateful for the donations. We appreciate it!

    Bernard, can you post the link to your blog? I’ll add a link to it on my blog where I list all the 09-09-09 posts (including this one from Jon). http://www.dianascimone.com — 2nd post on September 3

    Thanks, everyone!


  7. My pleasure. Sorry, I usually do fill in the website lin but forgot on this one.