Four Ways to Practice Everyday Advocacy
Krystal Ribble is one of our Ambassador blog contributors. As a passionate advocate for vulnerable children and families across the globe, Krystal has chosen a life marked by acts of everyday advocacy. Today she shares about how her passions have inspired her to speak up for others, as well as some simple tips for practicing everyday advocacy in your own life.
As we age, most of us go through an evolution in our awareness of the lives of people around us. As I have entered the wonderful world of my thirties, I have become a mom and begun to see that life is seldom about me.
When the focus of my life was on me, I rarely thought about the impact my purchases might have on someone else. Wearing a certain shirt or a piece of jewelry literally had no meaning to me. I was using my voice for myself – but God began to turn me upside down and made me realize he created my vocal cords to be used for others.
As I’ve grown up and gone outside my bubble, I’ve discovered that adoption and fair trade are two of my greatest passions. These two particular passions shape the conversation of my life. The subjects that I talk about and even the products I buy have more meaning to me than ever before.
What Started it All
My husband and I had been on the journey to adopt for three years. Within those years we lost three adoptions and had one successful one. The third loss happened from a very tragic circumstance while we were in Ukraine to bring our daughter home. Our little girl was taken from us while we were in the orphanage with her.
To ensure our little one’s safety, and to be sure all of the corruption that allowed this to happen was addressed, I went to Washington, DC and began an advocacy campaign for a whole group of orphans in Ukraine. At the same time, I discovered that a few other adoptions from her orphanage were being sabotaged by the orphanage and city she lived in. I was in a position to advocate on behalf of these children who had no voice; therefore I went to Washington to educate our legislators about the corruption and have them act on behalf of these children.
One of my many trips to DC for meetings benefiting orphans and other vulnerable children.
A Chance at a Fairer World
The second thing that shaped the conversation of my life was being exposed to all things fair trade. Over the past couple of years I have whittled my clothing down to a few items, including several fair trade staple pieces. Without fail, every single time I wear one of these items, I am asked about them. Then, I am given the chance to talk about how my purchase created jobs for a whole group of people in need.
Through these experiences, I have come to realize that whether I’m adopting a child or wearing a necklace assembled by a woman who has a dignified job, I can let my life speak for others. When vulnerable people are hurt or broken or silenced, I can let my actions speak for them.
If I want my government to help me with an injustice happening in another country, I have the privilege of using my voice to tell them about the situation and urge them to action. If I want my circle of influence to know about how people experiencing homelessness in Austin, TX are being employed because of socks, I can post a photo of my husband rocking those socks on my social media outlets.
Photo shoot I conducted with my husband after one of his shows (he is a professional drummer) one night when he was wearing his Mitscoots socks.
These are just a few of the opportunities I see every day as I seek to let my life speak for others. There are a million ways to be an advocate in your own life. If you’re looking to pursue these opportunities in your everyday life, here are some simple suggestions!
Simple Ways to Practice Everyday Advocacy
1. Find fair trade companies you love, purchase their products and proudly share them with your community!
Search for a cause you care about and use your purchasing power for good to impact the lives of people who are vulnerable.
If you are looking for resources on finding fair trade company ideas, check out my blog, www.krystalribble.com, where I frequently feature ethical companies and even have giveaways.
2. Take some time to focus on how your family can be a voice for good.
For my family, it started with adoption. As we continued to dig into this issue we were passionate about, we discovered that by sponsoring a child through Holt International, we could continue to make an impact on more children we could not bring home.
Whatever cause speaks to your family, engage in it and use your collective hearts to make a difference in this world.
3. Include your children in your search for advocacy.
Our little guy was an orphan until July of this year. We are still settling in as a family and he is still learning what it means that so many children have a lot less than he has now. We talk about our sponsor child – about her life and how we are able to help her. Her picture hangs on our refrigerator and each time we get a new report on her I tell him what it says and ask him what he thinks we can send to her next.
We are sending her special money for Christmas gifts and he was able to help me dream about what she might like. Including him in the process allows him to search his heart for ways that he can give to others in need as well. Invite your child into this journey and allow their little compasses to challenge yours.
4. Think Bigger.
When we went to Washington to seek answers for our lost adoption, I had to think bigger than myself. I had to see myself as a voice for change in the entire world – not just in my little community in Nashville. What is that one thing you are so passionate about that it drives you to raise your voice and get outside your comfort zone? In order to make the greatest impact, begin to think of your sphere of influence in ever-widening circles. Advocate for your family, then your neighborhood, then your city, then your state, then your country and beyond. Pick a cause to begin with and run with it.
The Plan is Us
One of my favorite quotes is from the president of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen. He said, “God has a plan to help bring justice to the world – and his plan is us.” God has placed us on this earth to be his hands, to be his feet, and to show his heart to those he loves. When you choose to use your voice and advocate for those in need, you are showing love to them. The plan for justice is YOU. Why not start now?
Use your voice. Use your resources. Make this world a better place because of your passion.