120x90It’s a three-peat! America’s premiere charity evaluation organization has given its highest designation to Free the Slaves for the third straight year.

The four-star rating indicates that Free the Slaves “adheres to good governance and other best practices,” says Charity Navigator President and CEO Ken Berger, “and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way.”

Only 10 percent of organizations rated by Charity Navigator receive the “exceptional” score for three consecutive years. This indicates that Free the Slaves “outperforms most other charities in America,” Berger says. It demonstrates to the public that Free the Slaves “is worthy of their trust,” Berger says.

Free the Slaves earned this rating because of our efficient spending practices. We spend 85 percent of every dollar on programs and services. You can review our complete financial disclosure forms on our website donation page.

Slavery in This Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. The New York Times. “Bill on Crime Against Women Passes in India.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/world/asia/india-bill-toughens-penalties-for-attacks-on-women.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

2. The Washington Times. “Child Sex Trafficking: Vote for Courtney’s House to win $50K award!” http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/speaking-out/2013/mar/22/child-sex-trafficking-vote-courtneys-house-win-50k/#ixzz2OHB4hLtu

3. CNN Freedom Project. “Toddlers freed from brick kiln bondage.” http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/20/toddlers-freed-from-brick-kiln-bondage/

4. Thomas Net. “Conflict Minerals Showdown Heats Up.” http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/2013/03/19/conflict-minerals-showdown-heats-up/

5. Supply Management. “Companies must check supply chains for ‘modern-day slavery’.” http://www.supplymanagement.com/news/2013/companies-must-check-supply-chains-for-modern-day-slavery/

6. Vancouver Sun. “Temporary workers deemed modern serfs.” http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Wednesday+March+Temporary+workers+deemed+modern+serfs/8122472/story.html

7. Ghana News Daily. “Former Ghanaian child slave nominated for World Children Prize.” http://www.ghananewsagency.org/social/former-ghanaian-child-slave-nominated-for-world-children-prize–57725

8. TriplePundit. “Hershey’s Still Lagging On Child Labor.” http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/03/child-labor-chocolate/

9. UNICEF. “In Pakistan, addressing the root causes of child labour.” http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan_68289.html

10. Reuters. “U.S. working out what to do with Congo ICC suspect.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/19/us-rwanda-warcrimes-idUSBRE92I0K620130319

Christy Gillmore presenting at conference | Photo: Lehigh University

Slavery is a global problem, but it can be overcome.

It’s a simple but important message.

And I was honored to deliver it at Lehigh University’s recent event on human trafficking and modern slavery.

The presentation paralleled the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the world’s principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.

My talk focused on the scope of slavery today. People can be enslaved in their own communities, or trafficked across borders. They might be sex trafficking victims, or domestic slaves, or trapped in debt bondage, or forced to work with toxic chemicals at a young age. They may work in agriculture, mining, fishing, construction, or hospitality. Poverty, violence, and inequality contribute to slavery.

But my presentation was also about hope. We can do something about slavery. We can empower the people that are the most vulnerable to slavery to reject it.

The Lehigh University program was webcast live from the campus in Pennsylvania to the U.N. conference.

About 150 students, faculty and staff attended the event at Lehigh, while others watched the webcast, including a group all the way in Burma. The audience was captivated by stories of slavery inside the U.S., as well as stories of slavery in Nigeria (such as child marriage).

Lehigh University Event Poster

The Q&A sessions deepened the conversation.

I was asked why slavery is an issue that should be important to everyone. I told the audience to recognize that slavery may be in many of their consumer products, and we must all be smart consumers and support companies working to root-out slavery in their supply chains.

The event was so successful that a group of Lehigh talked about starting a Free The Slaves student chapter.

Thanks to Lehigh University for sponsoring such a wonderful event!

Slavery in This Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. CSR Wire. “Hershey and Barry Callebaut Lag Industry in Addressing Child Labor.” http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/35342-Hershey-and-Barry-Callebaut-Lag-Industry-in-Addressing-Child-Labor

2. Supply Management. “Australia to stamp out supply chain slavery.” http://www.supplymanagement.com/news/2013/australia-to-stamp-out-supply-chain-slavery/

3. The Michigan Daily. “Students protest for 27 hours to raise awareness about slavery.” http://www.michigandaily.com/news/students-protest-27-hours-raise-awareness-about-slavery

4. The Huffington Post UK. “A Voice for Victims: Why Funders Should Support the Fight Against Modern Day Slavery.” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gina-miller/modern-slavery_b_2859671.html

5. Candy Industry. “Ben Affleck, Theo Chocolate launch Congo chocolate line.” http://www.candyindustry.com/articles/85617-ben-affleck-theo-chocolate-launch-congo-chocolate-line

6. The Guardian. “’Shameful’ failure to tackle slavery and human trafficking in the UK.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/mar/09/shameful-failure-slavery-trafficking-uk

7. Mt Shasta News. “Dunsmuir coffee shop fights human trafficking.” http://www.mtshastanews.com/article/20130313/NEWS/130319924/1001/NEWS

8. Independent European Daily Express. “Fighting Sex Trafficking in Brazil – in Fiction and Reality.” http://www.iede.co.uk/news/2013_1246/fighting-sex-trafficking-brazil-fiction-and-reality

9. Sudan Tribune. “Sudan will soon pass law to combat human trafficking: MP.” http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45826

10. Voice of Russia. “Modern slavery in the UK.” http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_12/Modern-slavery-in-the-UK/

James Kofi Annan | Photo: Romano for Free the Slaves

Readers of the FTS Blog may remember the heroism of Ghanaian slavery survivor James Kofi Annan. He received a 2008 Free the Slaves Freedom Award for his work to rescue children from fishing slavery, as well as his work to educate children to prevent the spread of slavery.

Now, James has been nominated for a World’s Children’s Prize. The award promotes children’s rights and global educational programs. Candidates for the prize are nominated by children aged 10 to 18 throughout the world. Then, kids vote for who will win. The online ballot box is now open. Voting ends on October 1st, 2013.

James certainly deserves the nomination and hopefully he’ll win the prize. He lost his childhood at age 6. James’ parents sold him into slavery because they felt they could not afford to feed or school him. He worked under horrible conditions in fishing villages from sunrise to sunset. He was barely fed and hardly had any shelter.

At age 13, James escaped. He befriended children in a school and used their books to learn to read. He worked to feed himself and put himself through school, eventually earning a master’s degree. He became a banker, but decided to leave banking to work full time helping free kids from slavery.

“By rescuing others, I feel I’m rescuing myself,” James says. “I feel that I’m correcting the injustice that was done when I was young.”

James’ organization is called Challenging Heights. It operates a rescue shelter for more than 60 children and a school for 700 students of different ages, and helps communities organize to resist child trafficking.

“James is a passionate advocate for children and dedicated to ensuring that no child ever ends up enslaved as he was,” says FTS Ghana Manager Christy Gillmore. “He understands the root causes of slavery and works to empower communities and children to protect themselves from slavery. He brings children home and makes sure they never go back.”


In another development, James has been selected as a “Change Leader” for an organization called Reach for Change. The group promotes social entrepreneurship as an instrument to advance children’s rights. They support “passionate, result-driven, competitive and involved” people who give their voices for change for children.

James certainly is that. Congratulations to James on his recent honors.