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Anberlin Working to Stop Child Slavery in India

January 12th, 2007 by Paul Martin

Once Anberlin gets to Calcutta, they will pair with Walden Media to make a documentary about human trafficking and band members’ experiences in Calcutta. It will be broadcast as part of their upcoming tour and on a Web site. More details for fans interested in viewing the documentary will be available later on the band’s Web site, www.anberlin.com, and the group’s MySpace page.

While other rock bands celebrate their success with backstage partying, Polk County-bred Christian punk rock band Anberlin is using its new-found fame to fight against human trafficking.

Anberlin, with a third album, “Cities,” hitting stores Feb. 20, is pairing with The Emancipation Network (TEN) and leaving for Calcutta, India, today to help raise awareness about human trafficking and its traumatic effect on the victims, hoping the world will take notice.

Lead singer Stephen Christian, 29, a Winter Haven native, formed the band with fellow Polk natives bassist Deon Rexroat, 26, and guitarist Joey Milligan, 25. The group was complete once guitarist Nathan Strayer, 24, and prodigy drummer Nathan Young, 19, both from North Tampa, joined the band. All but Strayer will be traveling to Calcutta today.

Christian said he was inspired to be a part of the human trafficking cause after traveling to Haiti to help build homes last March as part of Habitat for Humanity and after watching the jarring documentary, “Born into Brothels,” about Calcutta’s trafficking problem.

“It just broke me,” said Christian. “You think slavery is gone, but it’s amazing that this is still happening. It’s an issue that doesn’t come up that often and needs to be addressed.”

TEN provides girls who have been victims of trafficking and prostitution an outlet for their creativity by purchasing, importing and selling handicraft products, such as purses and domestic goods, made by the girls.

All proceeds go back to the victims and helps provide them with proper shelter, an education, legal aid and health care, and it keeps them off the streets, since many families won’t accept them back once they’ve been subjected to prostitution.

Around 27 million people throughout the world, 50 percent of them younger than 18, are estimated to be victims of slavery, forced prostitution and other forms of exploitation, according to information on the TEN Web site.

Once Anberlin gets to Calcutta, they will pair with Walden Media to make a documentary about human trafficking and band members’ experiences in Calcutta. It will be broadcast as part of their upcoming tour and on a Web site. More details for fans interested in viewing the documentary will be available later on the band’s Web site, www.anberlin.com, and the group’s MySpace page.

Anberlin will also work with TEN alongside the girls as they create shirt designs and bracelets the band can sell on tour to raise money for the cause.

Christian said he hopes this trip will make fans take notice and help them see they can make a difference in the world, whether by volunteering at a local orphanage or with organizations such as World Vision or Unicef.

“I’ve been around poverty a lot, and it’s not something you get used to,” he said. “It’ll impact our life and probably the life of others. People don’t have to go somewhere to be a part of a good cause, and no matter where you are in the world, you can make a difference.”

Joining Anberlin in the adventure, which lasts through Feb. 21, are the bands Classic Crime from Seattle; Showbread from Georgia; Hundred Year Storm from Texas; Versa from Oklahoma; and Jamie Tworkowski, leader of the organization “To Write Love in Her Arms,” which focuses on battling teenage depression.

Becky Bavinger, director of awareness programs for TEN, said she was pleased to see young men in the music business worrying about the cause and so eager to make a difference by taking a part of this trip, which she also will make.

“I think it’s incredible that they’re willing to go to another country and identify with someone halfway around the world who’s a girl,” said Bavinger. “Anberlin has been great and very sensitive about the situation. I’m blown away that they have decided to do this.”

Bavinger said that not only will the bands assist the girls with creating arts and crafts at the shelters at Apne Aap and San Aap, but dance teachers will be brought in to provide dance therapy to let off some steam.

The girls will also be creating an original mural in each shelter and will enjoy a concert by the visiting bands. Products made by them can be found at the madebysurvivors.com Web site and vary from salt-shakers to colorful embroidered purses.

“These girls don’t want anyone buying their products out of pity,” Bavinger said. “They’re strong souls and are always happy to hear that Americans like the colors they choose for the crafts they make. It makes them feel good.”

[The Ledger]