Free the Slaves liberates slaves and changes the conditions that allow slavery to persist.
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Former Trafficker Teams with Former Child Slave to Fight Child Slavery

One of the most uplifting moments of 2016 came during a village visit to Ghana. Free the Slaves Executive Director Maurice Middleberg and Board Member William Greenbaum were learning how community members are employing the Free the Slaves model to fight child slavery. That’s when they met a former trafficker, seated beside a former trafficking victim. The two were working together as part of a community-focused team to protect children from slavery in their village. 

“This was truly astounding and moving,” says Maurice. He and William say their visit was enormously encouraging. “We saw firsthand that educated and mobilized communities can become a bulwark against child slavery. We left cheered and optimistic that communities will become protected spaces where children can live safely and grow up free,” they say. See the remarkable snapshot of the victim and victimizer in Maurice’s personal video or in a special Maurice and William post on the FTS Blog.  

Boys Rescued From Slavery at Carpet Factory in India

Why I free slaves

Their story is tragically common. Relatives, working secretly as trafficking recruiters, promise parents that their children would lead better lives if they travel to work in a faraway factory. In this case, each parent received a small advance payment and then one month’s pay, about $110 overall. But then, the factory owner claimed the boys weren’t productive enough to be paid at all. When the boys complained, they were beaten. They were not allowed to leave.

One boy did manage to escape, and fortunately he fled to a nearby village that has already been organized and protected by our front-line partner organization MSEMVS. They alerted local police, who raided the carpet factory to free the others. The boys were issued “release certificates” entitling them to compensation. The factory owner was formally charged. 

This success story highlights how the Free the Slaves model—which focuses on liberating entire communities and not just individuals—is creating safe havens where escaped slaves can seek sanctuary and assistance. And it underscores how the tireless advocacy of our community organizers is making the justice system work on behalf of those who need it most. Learn more about our community model here. Learn more about our program in India here.

Global Human Rights Award for FTS Partner Organization Founder

Janvier Murairi Bakihanaye of the FTS partner organization ASSODIP received the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty this month in Washington from the group Human Rights First. The medal honors “outstanding contributions to the protection and promotion of human rights around the world.”

Janvier is “a champion of human dignity,” actor Josh Charles noted in a video introducing him to the 2016 Human Rights Summit. “His courageous work against slavery and other forms of exploitation has enabled people in rural communities to assert their human rights.”

Janvier’s group has helped FTS document widespread slavery in mining communities in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – including forced labor, child labor, sex slavery, forced marriage and child soldiering. ASSODIP implements the FTS community model to liberate people from bondage and change the economic, political and societal conditions that allow slavery to persist.

When accepting his award, Janvier called for people to join in solidarity to help end trafficking worldwide. “Anti-slavery work is a long-term task that requires a commitment on the part of all mankind. Each of us has a leading role to play in the eradication of this old, degrading and dehumanizing practice,” he said. See Janvier’s group in action on our Congo webpage.

Inspiring FTS Donors Exemplify the Spirit of Giving

As 2016 draws to a close, we’ve released a remarkable compilation of excerpts from ourWhy I Free Slavesfilm series. These short profiles tell the deeply personal stories of six people who support our crucial work: a psychologist, a teacher, an author, an actor, an investor, and a rabbi. Each video illustrates the true meaning of charity. Each donor is a reminder that slavery exists—and with your support we can fight it.

The 2016 series finale video is just three minutes long, but it reveals the spiritual, moral, educational, personal, practical and philanthropic reasons that people decide to take a stand for freedom by supporting the front-line anti-trafficking programs of Free the Slaves.  We hope you take this opportunity to stand with them
Happy New Year from Free the Slaves! 

Copyright © 2016 Free the Slaves, All rights reserved.

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