We’re all excited that Esperanza is arranging an evening of remarkable music on December 4th in New York to benefit FTS. Buzz is building in the media, too! We hope you can join us. There are still tickets available for the event at the City Winery.
Esperanza just recorded a personal video invitation for her friends and supporters in New York, and for abolitionists like you too!
This concert is an amazing opportunity to see a Grammy-winning jazz musician performing up close. Esperanza will host a meet-and-greet reception with VIP ticket holders, and she’ll be auctioning off personal items – all to benefit Free the Slaves.
I was asked by a journalist the other day why we “chose” Esperanza to be our “spokesperson.” The truth is that she chose us! She was quietly contributing to FTS when we noticed her name in the database. So I gave her a call – and she picked up the phone herself in the middle of a photo shoot. It turns out that Esperanza was already a fan of the FTS model of community-based action to end slavery. She immediately volunteered to help us do more. And that’s how the December 4th benefit concert was born.
If you live in the New York area, get your tickets now, or buy a ticket for a friend. It will be a night you’ll never forget.
FTS considers all our donors and supporters to be heroes. We’re proud to report that CNN also recognizes one of them as a hero, too.
Scott was chosen by CNN for founding Phoenix Multisport, a Colorado nonprofit that creates a physically active lifestyle for recovering substance abusers.
“Through such pursuits as climbing, hiking, running, swimming, road and mountain biking,” Scott’s group says, “we seek to help our members develop and maintain the emotional strength they need to stay sober.”
Scott founded Phoenix Multisport because he knows firsthand that recovering substance abusers need to change their lifestyle and circle of friends. It helped Scott put his own drug and alcohol abuse behind him.
“I want to help people find a better life being sober,” Scott says. “I had completely redefined myself, so I thought how could I give this to other people.”
It was Scott’s attraction to outdoor sports and the wilderness that took him high into the Himalayas of Nepal, where he came face-to-face with human trafficking.
Because of what he had seen, Scott’s family foundation became a dedicated supporter of our work in Nepal.
Now, you can support Scott, just like he has supported so many others!
The public determines who will become CNN’s Hero of the Year. Voting is underway now through November 28th.
Vote for Scott! Then watch him on CNN on December 2nd at 9 p.m. ET.
One of the most important things to happen to the anti-slavery movement in the past decade has been an infusion of resources from philanthropists who’ve decided they don’t want to live in a world with slavery in it.
And no one has been more generous than Pam and Pierre Omidyar.
Their story is featured in the latest edition of Forbes Magazine. The article’s title: “Inside eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Battle to end Human Trafficking.”
The story reveals that the Omidyars’ have donated $115 million to their foundation, Humanity United, which in turn funds 85 anti-slavery groups including Free the Slaves. They pledge to invest $50 million more.
The creation of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), of which FTS is a founding member, has been made possible by funding from Humanity United. ATEST has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts of America’s top anti-slavery groups to advocate for a stronger commitment from the U.S. government.
“Having the Omidyars’ names attached to the cause has helped legitimize it,” FTS co-founder Kevin Bales says in the Forbes article. “If you want a politician to pay attention to anything, put a billionaire’s name on it.”
Read more in Forbes about how a billionaire’s optimism (“all people are basically good,” says Pierre) has helped kick start the effort to free slaves worldwide.
All proceeds will benefit Free the Slaves projects throughout the world.
Esperanza will be joined by vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Gretchen Parlato for an eclectic night of music from around the world.
She will incorporate two groups for the show: a jazz quartet and the Chamber Music Society band.
Esperanza has been a dedicated friend of FTS. She donated a share of merchandise proceeds from her concert tour this year.
“I so admire the work that Free the Slaves is doing to abolish slavery,” Esperanza says, “in particular, their philosophy of breaking the cycle of slavery. With their help, former slaves have access to local education and become empowered to create change in their communities and find sustainable freedom.”
The FTS benefit concert starts at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4th at the City Winery in the South Village, 155 Varick St. It will include a live auction at the end of the night, with Esperanza acting as auctioneer. You definitely won’t want to miss it!
“I’m SO excited and grateful to be able to use my music to bring people together for this very worthy cause,” Esperanza says.
December 4th will certainly be a night to remember as we celebrate the anti-trafficking movement.
Please join us to appreciate how far we’ve come and how far we can continue to go in the future.
Tickets can be purchased through the City Winery website here.
Editor’s note: FTS Major Gifts Office Sarah Gardner accompanied several FTS supporters to Nepal. This is the first of several blog stories that we will post over the coming weeks. You can see videos of our flontline work in the mini-documentary Turning the Tide on the FTS website.
I have just returned from a remarkable journey. I had the honor of joining six donors as we visited Free the Slaves programs in Nepal for a week. Whether it was hiking up dirt paths far outside the Kathmandu valley, or riding up windy roads a few miles from the Tibet border, we managed to travel to some of the most remote places in Nepal. And there we found some of the most empowered women and girls I have ever met.
Having worked at FTS for nearly three years, I knew what to expect: Explanations of why our program works, how it works, and the fearless partner staff that is involved in the frontline day-to-day. I can tell you that seeing the work changed everything for me.
But I would rather focus on one of the reasons I work for Free the Slaves. I’ve learned that those affected by slavery TEACH US what ending slavery means. Without intending it, spending time in these communities is like holding up a mirror to our own lives. And some of these realizations were overwhelming and surprising.
My first realization was the importance of community. The power of our anti-slavery work in Nepal, and our work around the world for that matter, is that the women and girls work together, and look out for the well-being of each another. Karen Stauss, our Program Director, uses the term “neighborhood watch” to describe how a CVC works (a community vigilance committee is a group that organizes their neighbors against slavery). This really got me thinking. When was the last time you met with your neighbors to discuss a problem facing the entire community? In rural Nepal, where people have next to nothing, what is the one thing residents have? They have each other. And this didn’t happen on its own—the heart of our program work is the attitude that with the strength of the group, slavery can be beaten.
For instance, in the meetings the women and girls would sit very close to each other, often stroking each other’s arms when one talked about their past, or what they were looking forward to in their future. What stood out to me, is that the primary reason this work “works” is because there is complete “buy in” from those involved. There is no shame or embarrassment in needing others for support, which is very powerful. They often call each other sisters, and they lend members money or food when they need it.
The other thing that caught me off guard was that EVERYONE had a phone. We would be in tiny huts way up in the mountains, and a villager’s phone would go off in the meeting, the chirpy ringtone blaring. We saw fiber-optic cables running up along the side of the mountains, along dirt roads where there was often no electricity or running water. I mention this not just to say, “Everyone had a phone,” but to ask the question of what this CONNECTIVITY means. To have a member of Shakti Samuha (one of our local groups) come up to me after our meeting and say, “Will you Facebook me?” initially confused me because I had to come to terms with the fact that the rules of engagement are now very different. These are relationships where we can’t choose to be exposed to slavery and then when we “need a break” from the devastation, turn off this connection.
Of course in my heart I was already committed to this issue in this way, but the reality of this connection became real to me in a way it hadn’t been before. And it begs the question, how can this connectivity be used to help fight slavery? We talk about slavery being in our backyards, but what also happens when it is affecting our Facebook friends? While I still need to digest this reality more, I believe this kind of connectivity could make the issue of slavery much more personal in a world where it is often hidden and “so far away.”
Much more to come from our Nepal journals. Watch this space!