I’d like to introduce you to five of the most passionate people I know. They are the Free the Slaves country directors – our key front line activists. They supervise our organization’s fieldwork in the world’s worst slavery hotspots.

Why do these courageous staffers risk their safety to confront slavery in the remote, impoverished communities where traffickers prey? One word: freedom. They believe everyone has a right to it. Period.

Their passion for freedom is the focus of our newest Free the Slaves video. It features extraordinary photography, and stories that come from the heart.

As the year begins to draw to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the people and events for which we’re grateful. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with our talented, resourceful and dedicated country directors. They are on the ground every day, helping to free slaves, support survivors and prevent slavery – working with local activists, government officials and law enforcement officers to eradicate trafficking. Without them, Free the Slaves could not achieve what it does. They are bringing an end to slavery.

I am also grateful for supporters like you, who generously donate time and funds to ensure that our country teams can operate. Your ongoing contributions help ensure that no person is left in bondage.

I am constantly amazed by the strength and infectious optimism of our country directors, and I know you will be too. Please watch their video. Then, if you haven’t already renewed your contribution for 2013, please take a moment to do so. You can donate directly from our YouTube channel page.

As Ghana Country Director Joha Braimah says: “I believe slavery can be ended in my lifetime, and in most people’s lifetime, if only we put our mind to it and commit to this cause.”

It is a familiar story: a child taken, a family frantic for help. But for 24 families in northern India, this time the story has a happy ending. Our inspiring new video shows the boys being rescued, and how spreading information about trafficking and slavery leads to freedom.

The families were struggling to free their teenage sons from a cookie factory far from home. Two dozen boys were tricked by a trafficker who promised good jobs. But the boys were forced to work all night without pay. They were locked-up during the day, sleeping in bare brick barracks on the factory roof under the sweltering Indian sun. The boys were rescued because the “Anti-Slavery Chariot” visited a village where some of the boys were from.

Free the Slaves frontline partner organization MSEMVS tours impoverished remote communities with the mobile information unit, to sound the alarm about the dangers of leaving home for work. One of the chariot’s most powerful tools: a telephone hotline to call for information and leave tips about trafficking cases. One of the families alerted the chariot team about the boys at the cookie factory, prompting a proper rescue with police and a support team.

The boys are now free to be boys once again.

To date, the chariot has reached more than 100,000 people in more than 150 villages. There have been more than 900 calls to the hotline.

With your help, the chariot will help free even more people. Its organizers want to reach another 150,000 villagers who are prey for traffickers.

We hope you will consider an annual gift that transforms lives and breaks the hold of slavery. Every gift is appreciated.

BonebergFree 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.

3 Remarkable Experts Join FTS Staff

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

Lori Fitzmaurice“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 

Fatou ToureI 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 

Sujata Bijou“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.

2013 Supporter Survery Banner Smaller versionYour ongoing support has helped Free the Slaves move people from slavery to freedom around the globe.

I’m hoping that you might volunteer 10 minutes of your time to help us become even more effective.

Your impressions about Free the Slaves are extraordinarily valuable.

Your insights and guidance will help us become a stronger organization.

Please take our 2013 online supporter survey. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it will make a difference.

Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3T52JMZ

Be sure to enter the drawing for a Free the Slaves T-shirt at the end of the survey.