FTS Joins InterAction

Interaction-LogoWhat do you call a room full of international development professionals? A golden opportunity!

And that opportunity unfolds this week as InterAction hosts its 30th Annual Forum in Washington. For the first time, Free the Slaves will be on hand as an InterAction member organization.

That’s important because one of our key goals is to get activists who work on causes such as women’s rights, children’s education, micro-enterprise development and rural health to recognize that they should also join the fight against modern-day slavery.

InterAction, a “united voice for global change,” is an association of more than 180 organizations working toward a “peaceful, just and prosperous world.” InterAction fosters partnerships, thought leadership and high standards. FTS was carefully vetted by InterAction’s evaluation team before being accepted for membership earlier this year.

The FTS message at this week’s InterAction conference is that modern-day slavery and other international development causes are interrelated. People fall into slavery because of poverty, discrimination, corruption and a lack of social services. Those problems make them vulnerable prey for traffickers. By reducing those vulnerabilities, and organizing people at the community level to overcome those challenges, we will reduce slavery.

As well, many people don’t benefit from international development investments such as new schools and medical clinics because they are trapped in slavery. When organizations that are promoting education and health also target slavery, more people will be able to participate in development programs. (Read more in this FTS article in InterAction’s monthly magazine.)

FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg and our Nepal country director, Neelam Sharma, are spreading the word this week at InterAction that everyone can help end slavery. We’ll let you know how it went in a future post.


Sujata Bijou

The anti-slavery movement is at an historic crossroads. We must do more than awaken the world to the fact that slavery still exists. We must convince the world that slavery can be overcome.

And to do that, we must prove that our work on the front lines is breaking slavery’s grip on the vulnerable communities where we work.

It’s a tall order for Director of Monitoring and Evaluation Sujata Bijou. But she’s never been one to shy away from a challenge. She’s already guided FTS through the process of refining our community-based model for fighting slavery.

Now, she’s begun a world tour to the trafficking hot spots where we’re helping our partner organizations combat slavery.

Haiti M&E Training Workshop

First stop: Haiti. Sujata traveled to Jacmel for a weeklong M&E workshop with Fondasyon Limyè Lavi (FLL). She explained the importance of rigorous monitoring and the different techniques we’ll be using to evaluate the effectiveness of programs. The goal is not only to demonstrate success; it’s to identify weaknesses in order to strengthen field programs over time.

“They enjoyed the training,” Sujata says, “they definitely learned a lot.”

How does she know? By formally evaluating the workshop, of course.

Next stop: Ghana. Sujata leaves soon to work with our Ghanaian partner Challenging Heights.

And true to form, she’s working to strengthen her M&E road show.

“We are hoping on taking the lessons learned during the training in Haiti and using them to make improvements in Ghana,” Sujata says. “I am really looking forward to it!”

Dan Elkes Joins FTS Board

Elkes_Daniel1Free the Slaves is pleased to announce that philanthropist, business strategist and biotech executive Daniel Elkes has joined the FTS board of directors.

Dan currently works in the biotechnology industry as the director of the pipeline and portfolio planning group at Genentech, where he uses his expertise in strategic planning, decision analysis and pharmaceutical development to help guide work developing treatments for life threatening diseases. He was previously employed at Medarex, where he was part of the team that developed a revolutionary immunotherapy for oncology, and has also served as a management consultant.

Dan received his Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard University, and earned a Certificate in Public and International Affairs from his undergraduate studies at Princeton University, where he graduated with an A.B. in molecular biology. He has a strong background in Japanese culture and language, and learned Japanese and studied Japanese business practices at Matsushita Electric in Hirakata, Japan.

“I am delighted that Dan has decided to join the board,” says FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg. “He brings a great passion for eradicating slavery and a superb, diverse set of skills, including a remarkable capacity for thinking long-term and strategically. His commitment and ability to “think big” will be great assets to Free the Slaves.

“We are pleased to welcome Dan to the board,” says FTS Board Chair Jane Covey. “He brings deep personal commitment to ending slavery as well as strategic thinking, both of which enhance our capacity to govern effectively.”

Dan has a passion for service and has dedicated his career to the mission of improving the quality of life for those around him.  He serves as a trustee of the Elkes Foundation and lives in San Carlos California with his wife and three children.

Wherever Free the Slaves works, there are poignant and inspiring stories of women who would give anything to protect their children from slavery.

  • In Nepal, Lucky was forced to leave her daughter behind when she escaped enslavement in an Indian circus. She set in motion a coordinated international effort to rescue her daughter, who is now safely reunited with her mother.
  • In India, women have organized “Mother’s Club” meetings to develop ways to improve their children’s education and safeguard them from traffickers.
  • In the Congo, Ombeni, who was once abducted by a soldier and held in sex slavery, began training in sewing after her liberation. She now owns a sewing boutique and is able to provide for her two children.
  • In Ghana, Kofi summed up the joy he experienced after he and his brother were rescued from fishing slavery: “At long last we can go back to our mother, escaping this slave master and all his cruel treatment.

Donate to Free the Slaves in honor of your mother, and you can send her a customizable e-card with this photo for Mother’s Day. Click here.

Because of the work you support through Free the Slaves, mothers and countless others have been given the tools, training and support to rescue their children, reunite their families and protect entire villages from traffickers.

Maybe you are a mother. Or maybe your mother resembles the strength and sacrifice of the women overcoming slavery today. This Mother’s Day, you can empower and protect mothers around the world.

Please contribute to Free the Slaves through our Mother’s Day e-card initiative.

There are thousands of NGO’s working toward a better future. Whether it is environmental issues, poverty reduction, anti-human trafficking, disaster relief or veteran services, the world’s civil society is on the rise.

Classy Awards

To honor these organizations and the people who are putting their lives on the lines for others everyday, the Classy Awards, in conjunction with the United Nations Foundation, is awarding U.S and Canadian organizations that are “champions of social progress.”

Classy Awards judges look for nominees that are leaders who are innovative in the way that they tackle social issues. Nominees are goal oriented, take risks, and are making a huge difference in the world.

CLASSY AwardThis year in the Human Rights and Social Justice awards category, Free the Slaves has been chosen as a top five nominee for  labor rights. We were chosen because of our dedication to bring people out of slavery and into freedom by addressing slavery’s root causes and helping those who are enslaved to liberate themselves.

The awards ceremony is May 3rd in San Diego, and Free the Slaves Executive Director Maurice Middleberg will be on hand. Our thanks to the Classy Awards judges for honoring Free the Slaves as a top nominee.