Editor’s Note: Slavery survivor Timea Nagy now helps others escape enslavement on the streets of Canada. She is a recipient of a Free the Slaves Freedom Award for her heroic resilience and ongoing commitment to others. Her group, Walk with Me, has recently released a powerful music video, which we thought you should see. We asked Timea to say in her own words how the video came to be.
As the winter months say farewell, warm weather seems to be right on the horizon. Unfortunately, the coming of summer will bring with it a rise in human trafficking in Canada. Sex slavery will return to the streets, and Walk With Me is making a great effort to raise awareness.
Walk With Me Canadian Victim Services is a survivor-led organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing education about slavery, delivering and coordinating services to support survivors, and advocating action for change. We have trained and assisted more than 60,000 law enforcement personnel across Canada since 2009. Our organization has been involved in big cases such as Project OPAPA, assisting 22 victims in Canada’s largest human trafficking case to date.
The battle against human trafficking is now starting to enlist Canadian musicians and dancers. “Break the Silence” — a song written and performed by Francois Mudler, a young, talented Canadian artist – illustrates the struggles of people exploited by human trafficking.
Hearing Francois’ voice had been one of my personal coping and healing mechanisms when I would feel overwhelmed by work or by flashbacks from my past. I was fortunate to actually meet him. Francois then read my book, “Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor,” and said he would be happy to write a song to expand public understanding. The dancer in the video is a young artist, who came to our first fundraising gala last year and asked to volunteer any time we need help.
The song was recorded last September. Every single story in the video is real, and permission was granted by those involved in the cases to include their stories. The idea is for anyone to be able to use the video. It has been launched as a public service announcement, aiming to raise awareness all over the world. Funds that are generated will be used to keep providing services for victims of human trafficking.
The End It campaign wants everyone to know that there are 27 million men, women and children living in the shadows. In brothels. In factories. In quarries. Working as slaves. In countries throughout the world, including the U.S.
Their two-month awakening campaign has raised more than $175,000 to benefit anti-slavery groups, including Free the Slaves.
The project concludes tomorrow, April 9th with “Shine a Light on Slavery Day.” It’s a great opportunity to tell someone you know something that they might not know: slavery still exists.
Check the End It website for details on creative ways you can SPREAD THE WORD!
Early March includes two key dates that remind us of the importance of women in the struggle for human rights.
Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global observance of the contributions made by women who are working to improve the political, social and economic status of women throughout the world.
Sunday, March 10th is the day that an inspiring American woman died, one of the bravest, selfless heroes of the anti-slavery movement: Harriet Tubman. This year is the 100th anniversary of her passing.
School kids learn the name Harriet Tubman in high school history class. She was born into a family of slaves in Maryland around 1820. At age 6, she was “rented out” as a house servant to neighbors. She suffered many years of abuse at the hands of slaveholders.
Tubman could not read or write, but she knew what she wanted — freedom. In 1849, she escaped to the free state of Pennsylvania.
Tubman could have spent the rest of her life in safety. Instead, she went on a daring quest to rescue other slaves, utilizing the network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Tubman returned to slave states in the South again and again, helping her own family and many others escape to the North. With each treacherous trip, she risked being captured or killed. She became one of the Railroad’s best “conductors.”
“No transit system ever devised could possibly surpass the ‘Underground Railroad’ for sheer nobility of purpose,” says historian Ron Soodalter, co-author with FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today. “And no ‘conductor’ demonstrated greater courage and commitment to freedom than did Harriet Tubman,” Soodalter says.
As Tubman herself said, “I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” She’s credited with guiding over 300 slaves to freedom.
Today, Tubman’s legacy continues to inspire. It’s more than a chapter in American history. It lives on in the work of slavery survivors throughout the world who are now guiding others to freedom. You can see some of them on the FTS website — recipients of the Free the Slaves Harriet Tubman Freedom Award.
This is an important year of historic anniversaries. We’ve already been commemorating the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This month, we note that the work of Harriet Tubman is part of the historical record of anti-slavery accomplishments that should never be forgotten.
Tina Frundt has always believed in the power of creative thinking — it helped her survive sex trafficking and become a grassroots anti-slavery leader.
Her creativity has recently caught the media spotlight, allowing Tina an opportunity to show a global audience that freedom and recovery are possible for slavery survivors.
You may remember Tina as the 2010 recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Freedom Award. She was 14 when she was lured from her home in Chicago by an older man and forced into child prostitution.
Since her escape, she has continued to help others break free. She was featured on WUSA-TV in Washington this month, urging parents to talk to their children about sex slavery. Tina warns it could happen to anyone, anywhere.
“If you’re not explaining it, a trafficker’s explaining it to your child and he’s not telling the truth when he’s explaining it,” Tina says.
Today, Tina runs Courtney’s House, a shelter dedicated to rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking. At night, she and her team walk the streets of Washington in search of victims. She secretly hands them a trinket, containing a hotline number. She says she’s simply doing what nobody did for her.
Tina shared her story at a recent TEDx event. She recounts that, even as a child being bounced around in the foster care system, she came up with ideas to help others, and herself.
“I was always being creative,” she says, “I was always thinking outside the box.”
Tina was also featured late last year on an AOL web series: You’ve Got.
She is an extraordinary example of how valuable it can be when slavery survivors become leaders for the movement.
“When you turn your life around, you try to get rid of the things that you think are negative,” says Tina. “Instead of changing who I was, I changed the way I thought, and did it in a positive way.”
Here’s a stylish way to state your commitment to ending trafficking and slavery. We have just partnered with a new sustainable fashion company called Hearts, to create the Free the Slaves Key 2-in-1 necklace/bracelet.
Inspired by the Free the Slaves padlock logo, jewelers designed a pewter key with the letters FTS, which can be worn on the neck or wrist. They cost $32, with $12 from every purchase going to FTS projects that help slaves break free and stay free.
It’s a unique, limited edition fashion accessory that helps make the world a more humane place. The keys are made under fair-trade slavery-free conditions. It’s an inexpensive gift to give to a friend, while giving slaves the gift of freedom. Visit Hearts to order yours.