FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg is interviewed for the film Stand With Me.

What do you get when you combine the world-class photography of Lisa Kristine, the innovative frontline anti-slavery projects of Free the Slaves, and a vivacious 9-year-old California girl who has decided she wants to help end child slavery?

You get a powerful feature-length documentary to spread the message that slavery still exists but can be overcome.

The film is called “#standwithme.” It chronicles how artistry and activism can build bridges to freedom for millions trapped in slavery around the world. The film is currently being shot by Portland, Oregon-based Stillmotion, and it’s expected to be released in 2014.

It will tell the story of Lisa Kristine’s heart-stopping photographs of slavery hotspots 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 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.

The Stillmotion team was in Washington this week to film an extended interview with our executive director, Maurice Middleberg. They’ll be heading to the frontlines of slavery soon to photograph how the Free the Slaves model helps people break free and stay free.

Stay tuned – we’ll keep you posted when the film is ready!

rico trivia signQuestion: with so many outlets for activism and fundraising, how can college students actually make a difference in the fight against modern day slavery?

Answer: Trivia Night!

That’s what Seth Nydam and Robert McKinnon Wilkes have been doing in Pullman, Washington – home of Washington State University.

It started early this year, when Seth and Robert saw FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales lecture on campus. They were inspired, and decided to take action. They transformed a weekly trivia night at a local pub into an event that helps people take a stand.

“Every week we take the opportunity to raise awareness,” says Robert, “and remind folks that we have a role to play in attempts at eradication.”

And donate! So far, Trivia Night at Rico’s Public House has raised a total of $1,171 for Free the Slaves.

If you like Seth and Robert’s idea, here are some steps you can take to create your own philanthropic trivia night:

  1. Check your local pub to see if they sponsor a nonprofit and if their schedule would allow them to donate to FTS.
  2. Talk to the pub management. Seth and Robert manage the trivia night at Rico’s, but they were sure to approach the manager to make sure the change in donation recipient was acceptable.
  3. If the trivia night does not currently donate to an organization, approach management and see if they are open to the idea. Ask if you can set up a donation box and have people put in spare change and dollars. Every little bit helps!
  4. Be sure that either yourself or the trivia host provides a quick background on FTS during trivia night. Keep it short and personal – why does the cause matter to you, and why should others care about it too?
  5. Send donations to Free the Slaves at 1320 19th St, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Hint: sending in a check is easiest, so designate someone to deposit the donations in his or her account and then write out a check to FTS.

To use Seth and Robert’s words: “Slavery can end. We can help.”

FTS Anti-Slavery Trivia Night in Pullman, WA

To start a campus chapter at your college or high school, check out our student page on the FTS website.

 

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As the school year begins, it’s important to recognize that teaching is a profession that often requires bravery. But one teacher in India, Daulati Kumari, brings a special kind of bravery to her classroom.

Daulati escaped slavery only a few years ago, and now she teaches children in a Free the Slaves program in communities where slavery is rampant.

Daulati was kidnapped by a man who had offered to take her to a doctor. Instead, she was sold into a forced marriage and enslaved for five months. Her parents alerted volunteers affiliated with MSEMVS, a frontline organization that receives funding and training from Free the Slaves. They went to court to force local police to help.

After Daulati was free, she enrolled at the Free the Slaves Punarnawa Ashram, where survivors recover and prepare to return to normal life. She studied hard at the ashram’s school, and when she was ready, she decided to join MSEMVS as a teacher.

daluti teaching 1“I never imagined that I would teach children,” Daulati says. “I learned a lot in the ashram.”

She’s seen as a local hero at small schools in isolated communities where violent thugs enslave families and traffic children.

“They are intelligent kids,” she says, but formal education “is difficult because they have never been to school. I sit with each child, and hold their hand.”

Daulati knows the risks she is taking. But she also knows that without education, children are vulnerable to slavery. She is an emerging leader in a growing movement to create a generation that will live in freedom.

That is what sets Free the Slaves apart: we are building a movement of survivors, of people around the world who are standing up to slaveholders.  Last year alone, we helped free more than 1,750 slaves and educated more than 14,000 community members how to resist slavery.

Daulati is doing her part. Will you do yours?

Please consider making or renewing your donation to Free the Slaves today. Our program is working, but without support from you, slaves wait. End the wait. Make a gift. Help us build a future without slavery.

house party snapshotHere’s a question that people ask us all the time: What can I do myself, right now, to help end slavery? There’s a simple answer: host a house party to raise money for Free the Slaves.

We have a new tool kit just for that. It’s featured on our website. We give you a rundown of the simple steps you need to take to prepare for the event.

The prep guide includes: the types of parties you can have, how to budget, how to attract people to the event, a timeline of steps you will need to take, a sign up sheet and donation forms.

The kit provides all the information you need, and guides you through the process to make your party a success.

Be creative, bring people together who want to help out, have fun and don’t stress too much.

Raising funds for Free the Slaves is a chance to have fun with people who are passionate about the same things you are, while making a difference.

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The Pragati Legal Clinic in Northern India, operated by FTS frontline partner PGS | Photo: FTS

I’m writing to tell you about an extraordinary man and his remarkable legal clinic in India.

The man is Roshan Lal. He was raised in a family of slaves. Now he is free and helping those still in slavery.

Roshan’s clinic is a testament to his courage and dedication. It’s a small brick outpost surrounded by vast fields of wheat. Women and men crowd inside on a bare floor.

What Roshan accomplishes in this simple setting – work made possible by your continuing support – is proof that victory is possible. Victory against violent moneylenders, contractors and gangsters who afflict this part of northern India.

Roshan’s story is an inspiring example of how your investment in Free the Slaves is an investment in freedom.

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Roshan Lal, freed slave now helping others in slavery as a paralegal | Photo: FTS

Where Roshan lives, slavery endures. His neighbors are forced to make bricks, crush stones and harvest crops under the harshest conditions. They are not paid. They suffer physical and sexual abuse. Roshan knows these hardships. He endured them too.

Fortunately, activists supported by Free the Slaves reached Roshan’s family several years ago. They broke the hold of traffickers. Roshan’s family started new lives in freedom.

This is the transformation that you’re making possible by donating to Free the Slaves. Preventing slavery, rescuing the enslaved, helping freed slaves build new lives, promoting the prosecution of slaveholders.

We work with local partners to combat the schemes and conditions that force people into slavery and allow slavery to persist.  Our strategy is effective.  We need your help to bring it to many more people like Roshan.

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Bonded labor slavery is Illegal in India. Roshan helps those still in bondage to exercise their rights. | Photo: FTS

Once free, Roshan was able to resume his education. He’s now in law school, and works as a paralegal in the tiny brick clinic.

“I want to help everyone get their human rights,” he says. “My dream is to bring freedom to everyone who is enslaved.”

There are heroes like Roshan in all our programs. Freed slaves, inspired to help those still enslaved.

I hope that you will take this opportunity to make or renew your contribution to Free the Slaves.

Your gift enables Roshan and others to spread freedom around the world.

Thank you.