Free the Slaves is proud to announce that Bob is back!
Our former Board Chair Robert Boneberg will assist Free the Slaves in several key areas, including:
- Legal analysis to support our frontline country offices;
- Policy advocacy on business supply-chain transparency;
- Securing support from U.S. law firms for the work of Free the Slaves.
“We appreciate Bob’s enthusiasm and willingness to take on these important tasks,” says Free the Slaves Executive Director Maurice Middleberg.
Bob is an attorney with a long history of public service. Prior to law school, Bob worked as a street gang social worker in Buffalo, NY, and as a senior legislative assistant to the Buffalo Common Council. Recently, Bob has been a litigation partner at Lowenstein Sandler LLP in New York, and he is the former chair of that firm’s pro bono committee.
Bob is a former chair of the New York State Bar Association’s International Law & Practice Section Committee on International Human Rights. He is a vice president of the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation.
Bob received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a masters in social work from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his law degree, magna cum laude, from New York Law School.
FTS is proud to share the news that slavery survivor and Ghanaian frontline anti-slavery activist James Kofi Annan has been awarded the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child.
The prize is determined by children who vote for one of three nominees. More than 2.2 million kids cast ballots from around the world this year, with James receiving a majority of the vote.
The announcement came yesterday at a Children’s Press Conference held in several countries on the same day. James was in Stockholm to hear that he had won.
James was sold into slavery at age 6, and was forced into dangerous work on fishing boats in Ghana for seven years. He finally taught himself to read and got a college education. Now — with a rescue boat, recovery shelter and school — James does for others what he wished someone had done for him. He helps enslaved children restart their lives.
“By rescuing others, I feel I’m rescuing myself,” James says about his work. I feel that I’m correcting the injustice that was done when I was young.”
James was recognized by the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation as a Child Rights Hero, and nominated for the prize this past March, along with two other candidates. All three heroes receive prize money to further their work.
Today, people around the world are recognizing girls’ rights — and the challenges that girls face. It’s International Day of the Girl Child, an annual observance organized by the United Nations. President Obama has officially declared it to be International Day of the Girl in the U.S., calling on Americans to help advance equality and opportunity for girls.
One of the most important challenges facing girls today is slavery — from domestic servitude in Haiti, to fishing slavery in Ghana, to debt bondage in India and child marriage in Congo. Many girls are forced into prostitution as sex slaves, and many girls in other forms of slavery endure sexual exploitation as well.
Part of the Free the Slaves mission is to help girls in slavery escape and recover, and to help prevent vulnerable girls from falling prey to traffickers in the first place.
Our most recent research report includes stories from girls forced into early marriage — and the toll it is taking on their lives. It’s called Wives in Slavery: Forced Marriage in the Congo. The groundbreaking expose examines how child brides are often treated as property of their husbands, to be treated in any way he pleases.
The Girls Not Brides coalition, of which FTS is a member, notes that early forced marriage is a global problem, affecting 14 million girls worldwide each year.
Also on our website, the Free the Slaves Freedom Awards webpage features video stories of girls who have survived various forms of slavery in the U.S., Cambodia, Philippines, India and Uganda. Many of these victims have escaped, and are now working as adults to help girls in slavery break free.
This year’s official theme for the International Day of the Girl Child focuses on education. Educating girls “is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves,” the U.N. notes. Anti-slavery activists have been observing how important education can be to preventing the enslavement of girls. Establishing and improving schools in rural communities makes girls far less vulnerable to trafficking.
Spread the word. International Day of the Girl Child is a day to take stock of the state of the world for girls today — and to join together in a common vision of a better world for girls everywhere tomorrow.
Free the Slaves is excited to welcome three new members to our senior management team. Lori Fitzmaurice, Fatou Toure and Sujata Bijou each bring fresh, insightful perspectives to the organization. We asked each of them to tell us a bit about their background, and the reason they’ve decided to join the fight against trafficking and slavery.
Lori Fitzmaurice | Director of Development
“My first encounter with human rights was as a child working with my family in the California movement for farmworker rights in the 70s. Since that time, I have been driven to stand beside those who are not heard. I am honored to be part of Free the Slaves, an organization I long admired and wished to be part of. I believe deeply that our model can end slavery worldwide. Every day, I will do my small part to make that happen by bringing sustainable resources for our programs to flourish.”
Lori began her work in the private sector, working for 11 years as a branch manager and senior director at Charles Schwab & Co., in California and Massachusetts. She then turned to the nonprofit world, working in children’s grief support in New England, and in education and conservation at the San Francisco Zoo. Most recently, Lori was the COO for Girls For A Change, a national nonprofit that provides training and empowerment in social change for middle and high school girls living in low-income neighborhoods. She is a dedicated activist for human rights, especially those of women and girls, and believes slavery can end with community-based solutions.
When asked about a quote that shapes her personal philosophy, Lori said: “Dame Anita Roddick said, ‘If you think you are too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.’ I find that quote a wonderful reminder of how social change really happens – one person at a time.”
Fatou Toure | Director of Finance and Administration
“I made up my mind to no longer work for private companies, where there isn’t a balance between work and life. Coming from a developing country, I’ve seen that nonprofit organizations help meet the needs of disadvantaged people, especially in places where local and national governments are corrupted or aren’t paying enough attention. So, Free the Slaves has a noble and rare mission. I am glad to be able to contribute in as many ways as possible.”
Fatou was raised in Senegal, and moved to the U.S. 20 years ago when her mother accepted a job with Sisters Cities International in Memphis, TN. At the time, the sister city for Memphis was Kaolack, which is where Fatou was born. Fatou attended college in Memphis and moved to Washington for graduate studies. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration and an MBA with a concentration in corporate finance. After college, Fatou worked for nonprofit organizations and private companies, where she successfully led and trained finance teams.
When asked about a quote that shapes her personal philosophy, Fatou looked to Confucius: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential are the keys to unlock the door to personal excellence.”
Sujata Bijou | Director of Monitoring and Evaluation
“I decided to join FTS because of my passion and dedication for social justice, having had personal contact in the past with slaves. The positive culture of Free the Slaves shined through all of its communications with me, and attracted me to the challenge of monitoring and evaluating the success of anti-slavery programs.”
Sujata’s previous positions include research, monitoring and evaluation roles at the International Training and Education Center for Health at the University of Washington; the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University; the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Michigan; and the Haitian Health Foundation. Sujata was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. She has a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s in public health from Tulane University. Sujata speaks English, French, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, and Malagasy.
When asked about a quote that shapes her personal philosophy, Sujata said: “Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.’”
Lori, Fatou and Sujata are all based in our Washington headquarters.
The first ever Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference will take place October 16-18th, and two FTS frontline partners will be featured speakers, alongside many global experts about the latest anti-trafficking techniques and innovations.
Based completely online, the conference aims to be the largest anti-trafficking gathering of the business, education, government, health care, law enforcement and non-profit sectors. Registration and participation is free and open to the public at counterchildtrafficking.org, and attendees will have the chance to connect and share and learn from others in the field.
FTS’ frontline partner in India, MSEVMVS, will be represented by Rajneesh Kumar Yadav, who will discuss community-based approaches to ending slavery. He will base his workshop on MSEMVS’ work with over 270 local groups undertaking rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration. He will share strategies for enabling residents to face up to the realities of trafficking and slavery, especially its effects on children; set their own priorities for addressing its root causes; enlist local government and police to do their job; trace and liberate children; help children recover and rebuild their lives within the community; and join together with other communities that are doing similar work.
Bismark Quartey of FTS’ partner Participatory Development Associates in Ghana will discuss methods for changing norms around child protection through participatory learning techniques. Highlighting a recently-piloted FTS project to combat child slavery and child labor in gold mining communities in Ghana, he will explain how, through a well-planned facilitated process, communities can come to the realization that they are able to promote, protect and fulfill children’s rights.
The conference is an unprecedented opportunity for sharing and learning from frontline practice, experience and expertise.
See you online next week!