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They’re being billed as an “anti-trafficking trio” who “share a passion for freedom.” And they’ll be on the Web live today during a Google Hangout organized by Forbes magazine. The conversation begins at 3 p.m. ET.

The trio is FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg, acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine and 9-year-old anti-slavery activist Vivienne Harr. The three are featured characters in a new documentary film that will premiere next February, #standwithme.

The film tells the story of how Lisa’s stunning photography of Free the Slaves projects around the world inspired young Vivienne to raise thousands of dollars for the anti-slavery movement. The film explores Lisa’s journey of discovery as she is awakened to the existence of modern-day slavery, and it chronicles Vivienne’s remarkable fundraising efforts by selling lemonade. The movie takes viewers to the front lines of slavery with Maurice in Ghana, as he explains the innovative ways that FTS helps child slaves break free and stay free.

The Google Hangout interview is part of a series that will examine what can be accomplished in the fight to solve the world’s biggest challenges within the next 30 years, according to Forbes contributor Devin Thorpe, who covers social entrepreneurship and impact investing. “The solution to every big problem also presents opportunities entrepreneurs will exploit to change the world,” he writes.

fts lock without textPlease consider adding FTS to your gift-giving list this holiday season. With a one-time donation, or a recurring monthly contribution, you can help people break free from slavery around the world.

Trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time. But it can be defeated if we all act together. FTS has an exemplary record as an effective and efficient anti-trafficking organization: 82% of contributions go directly to our programs.

Here are 10 great reasons to donate to FTS today:

Reason 1: We help free more than 1,500 slaves worldwide per year! In 2012, the total was more than 1,700. We’re on track to match that goal this year too.
Reason 2: We trigger the arrest of traffickers! It’s important to rescue people from slavery, but someone else will be enslaved in their place if slaveholders aren’t prosecuted. In 2012, we helped get more than 100 traffickers arrested.

Reason 3: We help slaves take action to free themselves. We don’t tell people what to do, we empower people in slavery to organize and decide for themselves if, how and when it’s safe to make a break. Watch video of an actual raid. See how community education and organizing leads to freedom.

Reason 4: We teach vulnerable people how to prevent trafficking. By helping villagers form vigilance committees — like a neighborhood watch for traffickers — people can prevent the spread of slavery. In 2012, we trained 14,000 people, and we’re on track to make that target this year too.

Reason 5: Fighting slavery isn’t depressing; it’s joyful! Watch our new Faces of Freedom video, where you’ll see the difference that freedom makes in the lives of slavery survivors.


Reason 6: We fight trafficking in 600-700 communities in six trafficking hot spot countries worldwide. Working in partnership with about 20 local community-based organizations, FTS is combating slavery where it is worst.

Reason 7: We teach government officials what they can do to fight slavery. In 2012, we reached more than 1,500 officials. Slavery is illegal everywhere, so one way to combat it is to get government officials to vigorously enforce existing laws. Officials can also direct economic and educational resources to marginalized communities — which will make people less vulnerable to slavery.

Reason 8: Our front line experts are from the countries where they work, so they are highly motivated to improve life for their neighbors. Watch our new video where our country directors explain why they’ve joined the anti-slavery movement: Passionate About Freedom.

Reason 9: Slavery can be ended. Forever. But only if we act together! Slavery has been around for thousands of years, and it’s been illegal for decades in some countries and for more than a century in others. But we need to finish the job. That means businesses must not profit from slavery, vulnerable people must become resistant to slavery, and governments must not ignore slavery. What’s your part? Simple: spread the word and donate to Free the Slaves.

Reason 10: We get results! Slaves freed & traffickers jailed. We’re moving beyond raising awareness about slavery. We’re doing the job of helping people break free — and stay free. Join us!

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.