Sisters For Sale

Posted March 03

The search

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Things left unsaid

Posted June 26

I have some very exciting news for you today - but first, I want to answer the question on everyone's lips. 

In recent months, many of you have been asking what's happening with our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. Perhaps you saw my blog posts last August and September about fine-tuning the film, correcting the colours, recording the narration, finishing the edit and animations

You've been asking when and where the documentary will be made available. I can't give a concrete answer to those questions, because there isn't one. 

Over the past few years, we've had something like a curse with some of the musicians involved in this project. Two passed away, while a third disappeared without explanation at a crucial time last year. That wasn't something we could have planned for, or avoided. 

The rest of the film was completed on schedule last September, before the music was even begun. Johanna Wilson and my brother Will Randall have been composing the film score since late last year. It is now well underway, and sounds fantastic. 

It's no small job: Joh and Will are composing 39 minutes of beautiful, hopeful, tender, suspenseful, complex, and sinister music for the documentary. It takes time, particularly on top of their professional research and study commitments, and they're doing an amazing job. 

When the score is finished, the final sound mix will be prepared professionally by a team in Los Angeles, whom I'm yet to introduce you to. 

Until now, the plan has been to structure the documentary's release around film festivals. Premiering at major film festivals in various regions can make a world of difference for an independent documentary. 

As we've now run over schedule, however, I'm considering skipping the festivals altogether, so I can show you the finished film as soon as possible. I haven't yet made a final decision. 

If you've supported the film, you will be notified when it's ready. Until then, if you'd like to receive updates, please add your name to our mailing list

By this time, of course, I'd hoped that 'Sisters For Sale' would be out there making a difference in the world. People seem to expect that I'm going mad with anxiety, beating my head against a wall in frustration, breathing down the necks of our composers. 

I'm not. There are plenty of other exciting things happening here to keep us busy. 

Thanks to our amazing translation teams around the world, our documentary has now been (or is being) translated into six languages, besides English: French, German, Hmong, Mandarin, Spanish, and Vietnamese (and there may be more yet to come!).

Katie Carriero has been helping map out partnerships and a tour for the film, while Melissa Adams is developing our new website. Claire Harris and Astrid Hofer are now working together on the forthcoming 'Sisters For Sale' podcast. 

Today, I'd like to share the most exciting thing that's been happening behind the scenes this year. 

I've long been planning to share 'Sisters For Sale' as a book. It's an amazing story, and a complex one, and it simply isn't possible to include everything in the film. There are still plenty of things left unsaid. 

The publishing world works like this. If your story and your writing are good, you can find an agent. If your agent is good, they'll get you a deal with a publisher. If the publisher is good, they'll get your story out to the widest possible audience. 

It's a highly competitive market. Some writers struggle for years to find an agent, much less a publisher. There are pitfalls too, of course - bad contracts, agents who can't find a publisher, publishers who can't get your story on shelves. 

There are five major publishing houses in the world. They don't bother with small, niche stories. They have powerful marketing machines working to promote major titles. I'm sure your shelves are filled with their books: mine are. 

For a long time, I've been collecting notes and ideas to develop 'Sisters For Sale' as a book, and have already written part of the story. I hadn't yet begun the search for an agent. 

This February, I received an unexpected message asking about the book. It wasn't an agent, but a publisher. More specifically: it was a senior publisher at one of the five largest publishing houses in the world. 

She'd heard of our story, and wanted to see my writing. She loves what I've written so far, and we're now discussing the best way to bring 'Sisters For Sale' - the book - to the world. 

Since I was a child, writing has been one of my great passions. For me, to become a published author with one of the world's great publishing houses would literally be a dream come true. 

So, no - I'm not over here going mad with anxiety, or beating my head against a wall; I'm madly scribbling the pages which, before long, I hope you'll enjoy. I'm really excited to see where all this will lead us!

The few authors I have the pleasure of knowing personally have shown no hesitation in offering their guidance and support. I'd like to thank Belinda Bauer, Elijah Wald and particularly the wonderful Sifis Zervoudakis for answering all my questions over the past months, and Michelle Imison for proof-reading my work. 

I'm very pleased to announce that our recent poster competition was won by Myste Laquinta, who has been one of our most amazing supporters over the past few years - congratulations, Myste! 

Of course, there's always more happening behind the scenes here, which I'll be sharing in good time. By this time you might have realised I like to keep an ace or two up my sleeve! 

If you're interested to join our growing team, get in touch - you can contact me at 

Stay tuned!

- Ben

(Don't miss the news on 'Sisters For Sale' - subscribe here!)

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Better together

Posted June 04

I'm very pleased to announce a new partnership between 'The Human, Earth Project' and GoPhilanthropic, a fantastic US-based organisation involved in raising awareness and funds for charitable organisations around the globe. 

This is the first of several partnerships I plan to formalise over the coming months, as we arrange the details of how our forthcoming feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', might best be used to support counter-trafficking efforts in Vietnam and around the globe. 

GoPhilanthropic help build communities of social activists, and connect them a network of organisations making a real impact against some of the biggest issues of our time. They'll be assisting us in raising and disbursing funds, and our American supporters will soon be able to make tax-deductible contributions to support our work. 

A part of GoPhilanthropic's work is taking supporters to affected regions, and giving them the opportunity to meet some of the amazing men and women fighting the human trafficking crisis at ground level. 

This September, they'll be in Vietnam and Cambodia, meeting with Blue Dragon Children's Foundation (whose founder, Michael Brosowski, has played such an important role in our own journey), Ethos, and Pacific Links, amongst others. 

(If you're interested, there are still places available - details here!)

For International Women's Day this March, Vietnam's national TV channel VTV ran a three-minute news piece on our work against human trafficking, and our forthcoming feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. 

Thanks to Trịnh Hoàng Đông Nghi, it has now been translated into English, and much of it has been included in our updated media reel (from 2.45 onwards). Thanks, Nghi! 

The entire documentary has now been translated into Vietnamese - as has the trailer, which you can now see here

Recently we've been running a little competition to give away the first-ever print of the 'Sisters For Sale' documentary poster. 

Several people reported having issues accessing our website this weekend, when the competition was due to end, so we'll give you until this Sunday 10th June to get your entries in. 

Over the past five years, I've referenced dozens of songs and albums in the titles of my blog posts. 

Take a look at the list, tell me which musicians you can see referenced, and win the first-ever print of the "mother's love" or "sunset glow" poster (your choice!). 

(For example, the title of this post - "Better together" - is a Jack Johnson song. Put Jack Johnson on your list, and send it over!)

The list is here, and you can contact me at

Happy hunting!

- Ben

(Don't miss the news on 'Sisters For Sale' - subscribe here!)

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We the people

Posted May 23

I've been quiet lately, but there's been a lot happening behind the scenes here with 'The Human, Earth Project'. 

Poster competition

Last month I announced a little competition to win the first-ever print of either the "mother's love" or "sunset glow" poster design. 

To my surprise, we didn't have a winner - nobody even came close. I'm still going to give away the poster, so I'm going to make it really easy for you. 

Scrolling down through the list of blog posts on our website, I see 39 artists whose songs or albums I've referenced in the blog post titles (including this one!). 

Take a look, and tell me which ones you see. Whoever can tell me the most artist names by Sunday 3rd June will win the first ever print of either the "mother's love" or "sunset glow" poster (your choice!). 

The list is here, and you can contact me at Anyone is eligible to enter, excluding my own blood relatives! 

'Sisters For Sale'

'The Human, Earth Project' continues to grow, and has begun appearing in some unexpected places. (Recently a rather fanciful interpretation of our story was spotted being used as an online English lesson!) 

Our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', is still awaiting its musical score, which is currently being composed in Finland by Will Randall and Johanna Wilson. 

I've been taking advantage of the extra time to fine-tune the film, and prepare it for release in other languages, while chipping away at chapters for the forthcoming 'Sisters For Sale' book. 

Our serialised 'Sisters For Sale' podcast has begun to take concrete form thanks to the hard work and perseverence of the phenomenal Claire Harris, and it sounds fantastic. 

This month, there have been a lot of amazing people involved in the project, and I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the time and energy they've given. 

I'd like to thank Lynne Juarez, Geoffrey Hindmarsh, Dustin Main, Shirley Main, Jimmie Meader, Lynn Rhodes, Susan Randall, Sally Simmel, Karina Thomson, Nancy Traer, and Charlene Tschirhart for their recent feedback on the podcast pilot and the documentary itself. 

Julie Steinbach deserves a special mention for her insightful comments and organisational skills. 

As ever, our core team of Melissa Adams, Katie Carriero, and Astrid Hofer have been wonderful - they'll soon have the recognition they deserve on the brand new website Melissa's building for us! 

I want to give a special thank-you to Katie for her insights and support over these past weeks. 

Chinese translation

Yuqing Zhang has been an absolute superstar, and I can't thank her enough. 

Three months ago, Yuqing requested a copy of the 'Sisters For Sale' script, determined to translate it into her native Chinese. 

Without any further input from me, Yuqing assembled a team including 15 other translators, and coordinated the entire translating and editing process from beginning to end. 

Having been through the same process with our other translation teams, I can appreciate just how much time and energy that can involve. 

As if that wasn't amazing enough, there are some people who have come to this project to help with specific tasks, and whose work has gone far beyond that. Yuqing is one of those people. 

Yuqing, her friend Xiaojie Yin, and my friend Qiuda Guo have been absolutely invaluable in their help on Chinese legal and cultural matters behind the scenes. 

I'd like to extend my deep gratitude towards them and the entire Chinese translation team, including Qixiu Cai, Qianru Cao, Qiren Chen, Yali Chen, Yiting Chen, Yuhao Feng, Tian Huang, Tianyang Jiang, Chang Lu, Yuwei Lu, Chen Lyu, Yi Shan, Yujie Shi, Junao Wang, and Meng Zhang... Thank you all! 

Vietnamese translation

Incredibly, we now also have a Vietnamese translation of 'Sisters For Sale', which was completed in record time by a fantastic team. 

I'd like to thank Đinh Thảo Linh, Đoàn Quỳnh Hương, Hoàng Thị Hương Giang, Huỳnh Ngọc Hoàng Yến, Lê Hồng Hoàng Anh, Phạm Hà My, Phạm Thu Hải Bình, Trần Lê Đà Giang, Trần Phương Ngọc, Trần Thị Phương Thảo, and Trần Thị Thu Hà, with a special thank-you to Lê Bích Vân for rallying her friends to the cause. 

Several of these people are already active in Vietnam's counter-trafficking movement, and all have shown a deep passion for the issue. 

One of these people in particular seemed very deeply affected by the realisation that such things were happening so close to her own home, and that any solution will involve changing not only the law but the culture itself. 

With 'Sisters For Sale' focused on the trafficking crisis between Vietnam and China, I feel that these two translations will be so important in effecting real change in awareness and attitudes around the issue. 

Each of these people has played such an important role in bringing this story to their own country, and I truly admire the passion they've brought to the project. 

The story takes place amongst the Hmong community, and the next translation we'll be working on is Hmong itself. (If you're interested to get involved, let me know!) 

I want to thank you, too, for being a part of 'The Human, Earth Project'. Without you, this would all be for nothing. 

If you'd like to win the first-ever print of one of our 'Sisters For Sale' posters, send me your entry at!

- Ben

Don't miss the news on 'The Human, Earth Project' - subscribe here!

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Don't stop believing

Posted April 30

This is the most fascinating moment in the last several years of my work on 'The Human, Earth Project'. There are really exciting things now happening behind the scenes; some I've spoken about previously, and some I've only hinted at. 

Five years ago, when it began, this project was nothing more than myself, an idea, and a driving passion. It has now reached a point where even I don't know how many people are working on it. Right now, I'd estimate it's over 30 people in 8 or 10 different countries. 

If you include all the people who have worked on the project over the past year, that number more than doubles. I've never met most of those people, though I'd love to.

Some of those people have given a little of their time, and some have given a lot. Many have been paid. Many more, however, have taken part because they sincerely believe in me and my work - and that's incredible. 

I had a particularly horrible experience last year, and the lesson it tried to teach me was an ugly one: Don't believe in people. 

I've been determined not to be defined by my negative experiences - and so, as challenging as it has been, I've pushed hard in the opposite direction. When we believe in each other, it brings out the best in us. 

I'm no longer pulling all the strings, trying to keep a dozen different balls in the air. People have started bringing their own people to the project, many of whom I've never met or even interacted with. 

Will and Joh, in Finland, have brought in other musicians to finish the 'Sisters For Sale' score. Curtis is managing a sound production team in California (I haven't introduced you yet!). Suzie, in Alaska, is a long-time supporter who has been wonderful at bringing the right connections at the right times. 

Recently, the most incredible story has been that of Yuqing Zhang. Passionate about human rights, Yuqing was determined to translate 'Sisters For Sale' into her native Chinese. 

In a single hour on Chinese social media, Yuqing rallied a group of 15 other translators to the cause. Most have done their Master's degrees in the UK, while others are studying English Literature. 

I've never spoken to these people, and don't even know their names, but am deeply grateful to them. Yuqing has been phenomenal at organising the entire process of translating and editing, from start to finish. 

Translating the documentary has been an enormous job, and I want to give a special thank-you also to those who have been making the final corrections to our French, German, and Spanish translations: Elisabeth De Sa Barbaro, Astrid Hofer, and Laura Rodriguez Jarillo. You've been amazing! 

I want to give a huge shout-out to Melissa Adams, Katie Carriero, and Astrid Hofer - for the sake of simplicity, I refer to these three as our "promotion team", but they've been much more than that. 

Over the past three months, Melissa, Katie, and Astrid have not only been managing our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Their research, experimentation, and analysis has gone beyond social media to our website, and to legal and structural aspects of the project. 

More than that, I feel that these women have transformed the very atmosphere of the project. Until now, people have joined this project for very specific tasks, on very limited timeframes, and there has always been a transitory feel to these collaborations. 

With Melissa, Katie, and Astrid, I have a real sense of teamwork, of decisions being made both as a group, and autonomously. They've become part of the evolution of the project, and have now begun leading it in new directions. 

For the first time, I feel the project has begun developing its own organisational culture, and it's been a very positive and supporting one. The fact that all three are women has also added a strong female element to the project I felt was missing. 

(You'll notice that Astrid Hofer has been working dual roles, both as part of our promotion team, and in managing the final German translation of the documentary, which has been incredible!)

Claire Harris has brought a thoughtful, intelligent voice to the 'Sisters For Sale' podcast, which is now underway in Scotland, and I'm really excited to hear the outcome.

I'd like to thank Michelle Imison for her recent assistance with the opening chapters of the 'Sisters For Sale' book. Writing the book has already been an exciting, challenging, and surprisingly emotional process, and it's only just getting started! 

Many of you have written to say that you've been inspired by my work. These are some of the people who inspire and bring out the best in me. These are ones who remind me that there are still plenty of good people out there, and that beautiful things can happen. 

I want to thank you all - I couldn't and wouldn't have come so far without you!

The more people we have, the easier our work becomes, and the more we can achieve. 

If you'd like to join our team, share your thoughts, or to help with the Vietnamese and Hmong translations of the documentary, email me at

This Saturday 5th May, our new poster competition will end. Take a moment to test your music knowledge and win the first-ever print of your favourite new poster design - details here!

- Ben

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