By Stan Friedman
SAN RAFAEL, CA (October 26, 2012) – It isn’t every Sunday that an eight-year-old girl is a featured speaker during a church service. Then again, Vivienne Harr, who spoke at Marin Covenant Church, already is doing the extraordinary.
She has received international attention ever since New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff wrote about the lemonade stand she started in order to raise money to help free victims of human trafficking.
On a blog written by her father, Vivienne writes: “i am 8. on may 5, 2012, i saw a picture of two boys my age, working in nepal with giant rocks strapped to their little heads. they were slaves. to help each other feel better, they were holding hands. it hurt my heart. i decided to MAKE A STAND. a lemon-aid stand…and a stand against child slavery.”
She intends to be at her stand until she raises $75,000 to free slaves through the anti-trafficking organization, Not For Sale. So far, donations contributed through the stand and her website have reached $58,000. She will present a check to Not for Sale during its Global Forum on November 2.
An officer from the Dutch organization KidsRights told the family that she would be nominated to be it’s 2013 International Children’s Rights Peace Prize Laureate. The prize is presented annually to a child “whose courageous or otherwise remarkable acts have made a difference in countering problems, which affect children around the world.” Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who recently was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan because of her work to promote education for girls, was one of the 2011 nominees.
Closer to home, Marin Pastor Jeff Mazzariello heard about Vivienne’s lemonade stand, which is located about 10 miles from the church, and asked if she would speak during the congregation’s two worship services. He also invited her to set up the lemonade stand in the parking lot. Since the New York Times story, she has been inundated with requests for appearances, but the family was eager to accept this invitation.
Vivienne told the congregation, “I guess what I’d like to say is that #MAKEASTAND is about believing that you can make a difference. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure this would be anything big when I started out. But everything starts out small. If you think you can’t make a difference, you can. Just believe. Just try. Because maybe you will.”
The lemonade stand raised enough money to free at least 10 child slaves, her father, Eric, wrote on his blog.
Marin Senior Pastor Art Greco said following the service that “We now have new friends, new partners in God’s work of justice, and a new excellent source we can learn from.”
It is a relationship that is likely to continue. On the blog, Eric wrote, “This #MAKEASTAND journey has blessed us with some remarkable moments. But none exceeded today. I have never encountered a more universally loving, compassionate, generous, fun-loving group of people in my life.”