As January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Project Mona’s House, run by founder Kelly Diane Galloway.
Human trafficking is essentially modern-day slavery and affects many more people (and people closer to home) than we may realize. There are several forms of human trafficking, such as sex trafficking and labor trafficking, that are very difficult to escape from; those who are victimized by trafficking can be affected by the trauma of the experience in deep and lasting ways. Thankfully, Mona's House is an organization working to empower and advocate for victims of trafficking.
According to the Project Mona’s House website,
Mona's House is designed to help women 18 and older who have been victims of any type of human trafficking. WE ARE MORE THAN A SHELTER! Women entering our residence are committed to becoming contributing and functioning members of society, rebuilding their lives, and possibly assisting other women who may choose freedom one day too. Our 12-24 month program is designed to bring healing to the whole woman-- mind, body, and soul. We've specifically designed our holistic restoration program for women who have been victimized by human trafficking.
Mona’s House also offers other programs like Mona’s Group:
Mona’s Group is a support system that is designed specifically for women who have been victims of human trafficking, have worked in most capacities within the sex industry, or have been a victim of sexual abuse or assault.
Our goal is to provide a safe place for women to learn, heal, and grow. Our curriculum is designed to guide women to be the overcomers they were destined to be. Mona’s Group provides a holistic form of coaching that is coupled with life skills classes, workshops, and seminars to help its participants live successful lives and maximize their full potential. In addition to regular coaching sessions we offer:
Mona’s House also includes a drop-in center called the FreeTHEM Center, to “aid human trafficking survivors as well as at-risk women and children in developing life skills and in receiving services in counseling and support.”
And, of course, Mona’s House puts a great deal of time and energy into raising awareness about human trafficking in Buffalo, NY, and the rest of the United States. Be sure to follow them at @projectmonashouse on Instagram for a ton of useful and in-depth information about types of trafficking, groups of people who are most affected by trafficking, issues of consent, and ways to advocate for ending trafficking and supporting victims.
We are donating a percentage of sales for January to cover the cost of an intake care package, and we hope that you will also go to their website to donate!
Images below are courtesy of Project Mona's House:
Black-eyed peas are a well known food of the African diaspora, making their way to the United States with people who were enslaved and becoming a staple of soul food and southern foodways in general. In the United States, they are often eaten with rice for New Year’s Day and are the perfect recipe to feature for our first January 2022 newsletter!
Unfortunately, African American and southern foods are often (and quite wrongly) deemed unhealthy by the wellness community. The truth is that many of these dishes are full of vegetables and legumes and very nutrient dense! Black-eyed peas, rice, and collard greens are all particularly high in magnesium and are a great, nourishing way to start the New Year or eat anytime you want a satisfying boost of minerals during a cold and snowy Buffalo winter!
Rather than printing a recipe here, we’re going to direct you to the Shondaland website for Noelle Carter's interview with culinary journalist Toni Tipton-Martin and her recipe for Black-eyed peas and rice as well as Gumbo Z’herbes with collard greens. We would also highly recommend checking out her book Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking for a wealth of recipes and historical information.
Here is her brief history of Watch Night and the significance of these foods:
Watch Night Service is a gathering of the faithful to bring in the New Year with spirituals, prayers, and testimony. The celebration began on “Freedom’s Eve,” December 31, 1862, when enslaved people gathered in churches to await the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had set them free. With the news came shouts of jubilation and gratitude. Today, the service includes reflection, praise, and worship to God for His provision and protection.
Folklore in the “Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook” described the Carolina Lowcountry this way: “Early on New Year’s Eve, the pots begin to cook, as the meal for New Year’s day must be done by Midnight. The menu for New Year’s Day is a simple one: Hoppin’ John, collard greens with hog jowls, and ribs for a side dish. Hoppin’ John, or brown field peas cooked with rice, is eaten for good luck throughout the year. The collard greens represent dollar bills. It is said the more one eats, the more luck and money one will have.”
This adaptation of Hoppin’ John appeared in “Aunt Julia’s Cook Book,” a collection of Atlantic Coast recipes published in the 1930s by the Standard Oil Company.
May these delicious foods help you to start 2022 in a healthy and delicious way!
January often brings the surfacing of complex emotions. Some may love the fresh start after the holidays, the return of routines, and the promise of the coming year. Others may feel a bit bummed out that the holidays are over and go through a period of the “Winter Blues” as they get back into regular routines.
Either way, though, the prospect of enduring the rest of the long cold winter, especially here in the Buffalo snow belt, has very real effects for a lot of people and can sometimes result in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a specific type of clinical depression.
According to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, as cited in the article “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (2018), SAD tends to show up as depression, increased appetite and cravings for carbohydrates, the need to sleep more, decreased activity, and social withdrawal.
But did you know that magnesium deficiency may have a part to play in people developing SAD? This has to do with magnesium’s connection to the melatonin cycle, inflammation, neurotransmitters, and vitamin D.
MELATONIN: Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness. It regulates the cycle of sleeping and waking. When the sun sets earlier, the body naturally wants to fall asleep earlier as melatonin is giving those signals. And while we do want melatonin levels to rise in the evening to help us fall asleep, we don’t want them to rise TOO early and make us sluggish before we actually want to go to bed. Magnesium helps to naturally regulate the melatonin cycle.
INFLAMMATION: On top of the melatonin cycle being out of sync, many people who experience SAD also have higher levels of inflammation (“Seasonal Affective Disorder,” 2018). Like the melatonin cycle, inflammation is a necessary process for the body... in the right situations. Inflammatory cytokines are necessary in the body to fight infection and promote healing. However, also like the melatonin cycle, the inflammatory process is the most beneficial when it is well regulated and not over- or under-functioning. Magnesium helps to regulate the immune system so it functions properly.
NEUROTRANSMITTERS: People with SAD often have lower levels of some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin.
VITAMIN D*: The decreased level of neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, may be a result of lower levels of vitamin D, a hormone that works to regulate calcium in the blood (“Seasonal Affective Disorder,” 2018). Vitamin D is naturally produced when the body is exposed to sunlight, and magnesium is essential for the body to be able to convert vitamin D to its active form, making it more available for the body to absorb and use.
What may be able to help support all of these systems and ease the symptoms of SAD? There is not a single solution, but rather a combination of approaches that work well together!
* NOTE: Very interestingly, recent research suggests a near-zero death rate from COVID-19 among people with vitamin D levels over 50. (Under 20 is generally considered deficient, and under 30 is generally considered insufficient.) The article “COVID-19 Mortality Risk Correlates Inversely with Vitamin D3 Status“ (Borsche, L., Glauner, B., & von Mendel, J., 2021) claims that “The datasets provide strong evidence that low D3 is a predictor rather than just a side effect of the infection. Despite ongoing vaccinations, we recommend raising serum 25(OH)D levels to above 50 ng/mL to prevent or mitigate new outbreaks due to escape mutations or decreasing antibody activity.” In other words, along with being vaccinated and masking, talking to your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D might be a great way to keep yourself healthy (or make viral infection less severe) during the current COVID surge!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog post is to share information about our products as well as research-based information on magnesium that we have found useful. We are NOT medical professionals and do not intend this newsletter to be taken as medical advice. Our products are not FDA approved or approved for medical use, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please be sure to consult a medical professional with any questions about utilizing our products along with your current health regimen!