freepeopleWe’ve just completed our 2013 year-end review, and the results are both impressive and inspiring. In partnership with local organizations around the globe, we helped free more people from slavery last year than ever before. Here are the numbers from our frontline work in six trafficking hot spot countries:

  • 3,127 people freed from slavery
  • 18,465 villagers educated on how to protect their families from traffickers
  • 1,157 village and neighborhood groups supported to protect their communities from slavery
  • 1,518 government officials trained on how to more effectively stop slavery
  • 105 traffickers and slaveholders now facing legal action

Beneath these statistics are the stories of lives that you helped change through your support of Free the Slaves: a mother reunited with her trafficked daughter in Nepal, young girls returning to normalcy in a sex slavery survivor shelter in India, young boys in Ghana rescued off rickety fishing boats, and the transformation of a village in Haiti, where one resident said, “We were in obscurity, now we are in the light.”

Free the Slaves was also very active in 2013 advocating for government and business policies that help defeat slavery. One remarkable achievement: reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Recovery Act, which governs the U.S. response to human trafficking. Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy commended Free the Slaves Programs Director Karen Stauss for her personal contribution to the reauthorization.

As a supporter of Free the Slaves, these are your accomplishments, too. With your help, we will make an even bigger difference in 2014.

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tells summit: “No child should be enslaved instead of being in school.” | Photo: A World at School Project

Education and slavery are interconnected. There are 57 million children worldwide who should be in school, but aren’t. About 5.5 million of them are slaves.

This is why Free the Slaves has been asked to join a global partnership of leading organizations that is championing A World at Schoola 500-day campaign to accelerate progress towards making schooling universally accessible

The initiative is being led by former U.K Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah. Yesterday, I had the great privilege of attending the campaign launch in Washington, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Child slaves cannot go to school. Children who are not in school are especially vulnerable to becoming slaves. Schools can be a great vehicle for increasing awareness of slavery both among children and the wider community. We see these realities across all our programs.

A World at School has embraced “zero child labor” as one of its key goals, knowing that child slavery and child labor are fundamental barriers to universal child education. Over the coming months, we will work with A World at School to identify opportunities to more effectively protect children at risk.

The power of education was much in evidence yesterday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to us movingly about receiving textbooks from UNICEF as a boy in the midst of the Korean War. The books let him continue his education. Though his classes were held outside, he remembered that inside the books was an admonishment: “Work hard and give back.”

A World at School has named 500 youth ambassadors. Among those who spoke yesterday were Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan, Pakistani girls who were shot on the same bus with Malala Yousafaza. They were equally powerful, amazing and eloquent young women. The Taliban fears educating girls more than they fear bullets, they said. Oppression and servitude cannot persist in the face of awareness and enlightenment.

That is the mission of Free the Slaves, too. To bring children and their parents the knowledge that will protect them from slavery. We will persist in that mission until slavery is studied only in the history books read by children at school.

April is an important month for many faith communities, with Passover and Easter coming soon. So I’d like to encourage you to join us at Free the Slaves in reflecting on the important connection between faith and freedom.

If you belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, you have probably been called to take a stand against the existence of slavery. For those of you who are looking to take action through the lens of your faith, I am excited to announce the launch of a new Free the Slaves engagement campaign: Faith in Action to End Slavery.

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Our Faith in Action webpages provide resources and activities for faith leaders, congregants and individuals looking to serve as representatives for the mission of Free the Slaves. Download one of our two new toolkits, The Jewish Legacy for Freedom and Sundays Against Slavery, and be on the lookout for more coming soon. These resources provide tangible and simple ways to make an impact by becoming part of the global anti-slavery movement.

People of faith were instrumental in building the moral consensus that led to slavery being outlawed worldwide. The job now is to eradicate modern forms of this crime against humanity.

“If there is one abuse that offends our conscience in every way, it is the enslavement of a human being,” says Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “No child should be born without hope; no person should live without freedom.”

We can end slavery if we all act together. At my home this Passover, when asked why is this night different than others, we will reply: “We claim the heritage of the exodus, and we commit to help liberate those who are now in slavery.”

I hope you will make a similar commitment. During the coming holidays, please show your support by making a gift to Free the Slaves in commemoration of Passover or Easter. We can’t end slavery without you. Every gift counts. We are deeply grateful.

Free the Slaves is excited to announce our new partnership with two e-commerce giants! Now you can support the work of FTS when you buy or sell products through Amazon and eBay.

amazon smile logoThe AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. If you have an existing Amazon account then you are all set to start shopping, since AmazonSmile accounts are linked to Amazon.

To get started, choose Free the Slaves as your charity and FTS will begin to receive the percentage of any eligible purchases you make through AmazonSmile. Plus, if you shop between now and March 31, 2014, Amazon will donate an extra $5 for any eligible item you purchase!  You can find more information about how AmazonSmile works here.

ebay-giving-works logoThrough eBay Giving Works, you can now sell or purchase eBay items while also supporting the work of Free the Slaves. When you put an item up for sale through your eBay account, you can now choose to give FTS up to 100 percent of the profit. Or, go here to purchase items that will benefit our programs!

Both platforms are easy to use and make shopping for good simpler than ever!

Free the Slaves is excited to announce the opening of an exclusive auction that benefits FTS frontline work!Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson, who appeared most notably in X-Files and Last King of Scotland, is generously auctioning off the chance to meet her on the set of THE FALL in Belfast!

Anderson is starring in SOLD, a new feature film adaptation of the globally acclaimed novel by Patricia McCormick.

The film is based on true stories that illustrate the brutality of child trafficking. Anderson learned about Free the Slaves through her character, who was based on real life photographer and friend of FTS, Lisa Kristine. When doing research for the part, she visited Lisa’s website and saw that her work was inspired by the photos Lisa took at Free the Slaves programs around the world and decided that she would donate one auction item for FTS.

You can bid on the auction through ebay here!  One hundred percent of the auction sale will go to Free the Slaves.

It ends on March 30, 2014, so make sure to tell your friends and get your bids in now!