First Lady Elanor Roosevelt holds the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights

U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt holds the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

If you’ve never had a chance to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, today is a good time to do it.

December 10th is Human Rights Day, a date proclaimed by the U.N. in 1950 to focus global attention on the declaration as “the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

The declaration, approved in 1948, is very clear about slavery and trafficking. Abolishing both is near the top of the list.

Article 4 states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Of course, declaring that slavery should be abolished and actually ending it are two different things. Current research estimates that 21-30 million people are still enslaved around the globe.

As this year’s Human Rights Day unfolds, you can do your part by spreading the word that slavery still exists. Tell your coworkers, classmates, neighbors, family members and friends.

Equally important: tell them that slavery can be overcome if we all act together. Reduce consumer demand for products manufactured by slaves or made with slavery-tainted components or raw materials. Check out KnowTheChain to see what major companies are doing about slavery in product supply chains.

And help Free the Slaves work on the supply side of the problem, too. We help stem the flow of vulnerable people into systems of slavery in trafficking hot spots.

It’s Human Rights Day. Get smart about slavery. Then get active to bring it to an end.

The team from Stillmotion has wrapped-up filming for their new documentary, #standwithme. The film’s preview is now available online. You can also sign up now to attend premiere screenings of the film in 30 U.S. cities coast to coast early next year!

This feature-length film chronicles how artistry and activism can build bridges to freedom for millions trapped in slavery around the world. It tells the story of Lisa Kristine’s heart-stopping photographs of slavery hot spots where Free the Slaves works. (Purchase Lisa’s prints and book here – proceeds benefit Free the Slaves.)

A California family saw Lisa’s slavery photos in her gallery – and decided to snap into action. Vivienne Harr raised thousands of dollars for the anti-slavery movement by selling lemonade. Her family has started bottling the recipe and is selling it online and in small grocery stores. Free the Slaves is one of several organizations that will benefit from Make A Stand Lemon-Aid sales.

Maurice with CCPC

Stillmotion crew videotapes FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg meeting with a village community child protection committee in Ghana | FTS Photo/ Gillmore

Filming for #standwithme concluded three weeks ago, as the Stillmotion team followed FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg to visit our anti-slavery work in Ghana.

The filmmakers documented the brutal conditions that children endure in fishing slavery on Lake Volta.

The film crew also photographed how the innovative techniques used by FTS and our front line partner organization Challenging Heights help reduce and prevent child slavery.

Watch the trailer, sign up to see the movie, and take a stand to end slavery.

There is a common myth about the nature of anti-slavery work: that it’s terribly depressing. Actually, fighting slavery is the most joyful experience that you can imagine.

Nothing compares to the joy I’ve seen on the faces of families freed from generations of debt bondage slavery in Asia, or the smiling faces of children I’ve met who have been rescued from fishing slavery in Africa.

I would like to share with you our newest video, which features these “Faces of Freedom.” Without contributions from supporters like you, these faces would be telling a very different story.

In Faces of Freedom, you will see the many things that freedom brings: exultation, triumph, hope, optimism and relief. You will see the faces of slavery survivors, whose strength knows no bounds, as well as the faces of people who’ve avoided enslavement thanks to the frontline work of Free the Slaves. They will pass this freedom on to future generations.

During this holiday season, I hope you will consider giving the gift of freedom, so even more people will know the happiness that freedom brings.

We at Free the Slaves wish you happy holidays, and thank you for helping us spread joy in the world.

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.”

There was a surprise open to trading today at the New York Stock Exchange. Observers had expected the founders and CEO of Twitter to ring the opening bell, which is stock market tradition when a major corporation marks the first day that its stock becomes available to the public.

Instead, a young California girl named Vivienne Harr did the honors. Vivienne has raised more than $100,000 by selling lemonade, and she’s contributed the funds to groups that fight modern-day slavery, including Free the Slaves. Vivienne credits Twitter for much of her success.


Vivienne Harr rings today’s opening bell | NYSE photo

“Today I rang the bell for twitter’s IPO! It was a ring for hope and freedom!,” Vivienne tweeted this morning. “I hope the whole entire world heard it, because now you don’t have to be big or powerful to change the world, you can be just like me. Find your voice, make a stand!”

Today’s Business Insider reports that Vivienne was chosen from more than 200 million Twitter users because “Twitter’s executives wanted to show appreciation for the social network’s users.”

Congratulations to Vivienne! It’s an impressive recognition of truly remarkable achievement.

Vivienne isn’t done fighting slavery. Her family has launched the Make a Stand Lemon-aid bottling company, and they plan to share profits with FTS and other organizations in the future.