Woman to Run, Bike & Swim for 27 Hours Straight, to Raise Awareness of 27 Million Modern-Day Slaves:
Paula Heron, a woman from Lexington, Kentucky will be raising awareness about modern-slavery by spending “27 straight hours of swimming, biking and running.” She’s doing this for the 27 million people enslaved in the world today. A noble cause indeed! Read more about Paula’s actions here (via WKYT).
Excerpt from Investigative Book, Tomatoland Sheds Light on Slavery in Florida’s Tomato Farms
The Atlantic has published an excerpt from a new book Tomatoland—about corruption in the tomato industry. This excerpt is about modern-slavery in Florida’s tomato farms, an issue that our ATEST partner Coalition of Immokalee Workers has actively organized and raised awareness about. Here is an excerpt of the excerpt:
Taking a day off was not an option. If Domingo or any of the others in the crew became ill or too exhausted to go to the fields, they were kicked in the heads, beaten with fists, slashed with knives or broken bottles, and shoved into trucks to be hauled to the worksites. Some were manacled in chains. One day a crew member couldn’t take it anymore and ran away from a field. One of the Navarretes got in his truck to chase him down. When the truck returned, Medel said that the man’s face was so bloody and swollen that he was unrecognizable. He could not walk. “This is what happens when you try to get away,” the boss said.
More from CNN’s Freedom Project: Demi Moore Will Host and Narrate an Hour-Long Documentary: “Nepal’s Stolen Children”
From the New York Times:
In the documentary, which will be shown for the first time on June 26, Ms. Moore meets girls as young as 11 who had been forced into prostitution and were rescued by a Nepalese nonprofit.
…Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, said of the documentary: “This wasn’t, ‘We’ll get more publicity if we work with someone high profile, so let’s go find someone high profile.’ This was, ‘Who are the leading players in this field?’ ”
One of them, he said, happened to be a famous actress.
The documentary comes in the fourth month of the CNN Freedom Project, an effort to investigate and bring an end to human trafficking, bonded labor and other forms of what advocacy groups say amounts to slavery.
Led by Mr. Maddox, CNN is taking a stand against slavery — an “easy position” to take, he acknowledges, but one requiring hard work in coverage, campaigning and following up.
“It’s an issue of fundamental humanity,” Mr. Maddox said in a telephone interview. “When that humanity has been violated, there is a moral responsibility to say that this is wrong.”
Editor’s note: Editor’s note: High school student Aditi Sinha was inspired to become an anti-slavery activist after attending Free the Slaves’ annual Freedom Awards show in 2008. With her friends and family, she recently put on a benefit show to raise money for FTS—which brought in over one thousand dollars! Thank you Aditi, Isha, Janani, Varshini and all your supporters for your amazing work!”
To “Be the change you wish to see in the world” one needs to start on one’s own without waiting to garner support. My association with Free the Slaves and many of its activists inspired me to take small steps on my own to wipe out the menace of slavery from the face of the earth. I am a “high school student” and my avenues are limited, but I have still pined to bring about a change in the world in my own small ways. Free the Slaves has taught me that no contribution is small and each of us can contribute in our own way to make the world a better place to live. I definitely wish to be “the change” and do all in my capacity to make the world a better place.
Over the past three years, Free the Slaves has become a huge part of my life. I first learned about the organization from Supriya Awasthi, South Asia Director of this organization during my visit to India in 2008. I was completely shocked that slavery still existed and that there are more than 27 million slaves in our world today. Supriya told me all about Free the Slaves, its mission, and its fight against the inhumane practice of slavery. Upon my return home, I attended the Freedom Awards, met many activists and witnessed all that was being done so selflessly to free the millions of slaves all over the world. I met Judy Hyde and Gwendolyn Oliver, who have ever since been guiding me about how I could get more involved with the organization.
Since my involvement with Free the Slaves began, I had raised friends for the cause, distributed literature, directed people to the Free the Slaves website, and started a chapter of Free the Slaves at my school. Now, I wanted to do something more, something that would have a greater impact, and something that would get all like-minded people together to work towards a cause. Last October, I began to think about organizing a fundraiser to raise more awareness about slavery and funds to help the organization. With the help and encouragement of my parents and my close friend, Isha Parol, I was able to turn this idea into reality. I discussed my plans with Gwendolyn and she offered me all her support. Later on, Janani Ravikumar and Varshini expressed their willingness and enthusiasm to work for the cause. I designed several flyers, distributed them to my teachers, classmates, and friends, thereby spreading word about slavery. So did my friends! Some local businesses were glad to support Free the Slaves with a donation. They also allowed us to leave our flyers with them for more publicity. At the outset, we were three friends who decided to perform for the audience, but with passage of time many others came forth, willing to donate their talents. Friends from my school were more than willing to help support the cause by agreeing to perform at a short notice. At the last minute, a lot of my classmates pitched in and offered to help set up, run tech, sell tickets, and do much more! It was overwhelming to see how so many of them stood up for the cause despite their busy schedules! We would have had a greater turnout had it not been Spring Break and a Friday!
Free the Slaves activists; Gwendolyn, Tawney, and Anne drove down all the way from Los Angeles to show their unwavering support and to speak to the attendees about the evil practice of slavery. Everyone was deeply touched by their simplicity and their passion for the cause. All this while, my parents and the parents of my friends unrelentingly worked behind the scenes as if promising that we would have their support like this whenever we did something worthwhile. By the end of the day we had raised about 1200 dollars! All my teachers, friends, family, and acquaintances stood in solidarity to support me in doing something that I had been so fervently wanting to do. Now we are a team and I know, when the next time we all plan a fundraiser together for Free the Slaves, it will be a much more successful endeavor!
Photo courtesy of Aditi Sinha
Editor’s note: Alison Leuchtenburg, outreach intern at Free the Slaves was leader of Team Free the Slaves for the Stop Modern Slavery Walk this past Saturday. Below is her report from the event:
Congratulations to our partner DC Stop Modern Slavery for organizing a terrific Walk Against Modern Slavery on Saturday. The weather was perfect, and the turnout was fantastic with over 2000 registered walkers. A special thanks to all of you who joined the Free the Slaves walk team. I was glad to meet so many of you at the resource fair after the walk.
It was truly amazing to see so many people and organizations involved in the fight against modern slavery. Volunteers held signs and shouted slogans along the walk, and there was even one man dressed as Abraham Lincoln.
The resource fair had some great speakers, including Freedom Awards laureate Tina Frundt, who was inspirational as always. There was also live music with Crash Boom Omar of the band Crash Boom Bang, and Lamont Hiebert who is also the co-founder of Love146.
This was a real visual demonstration of how far we’ve come in raising awareness, with over 2000 walkers and more than 20 organizations, all doing their part to fight slavery. Saturday was a powerful sign that the tide is turning, and together, we will end slavery forever.
Editor’s note: Alison Leuchtenburg is the current outreach intern at Free the Slaves. She will be the leader of Team Free the Slaves for the Stop Modern Slavery Walk on October 3rd, when thousands of anti-slavery activists and organizations will gather at the National Mall to raise awareness about slavery. (To join Team Free the Slaves—or for more information on how you can support the walk, go here.) In this blog entry, Alison talks about how she became an anti-slavery activist.
I am often asked how I got involved in the anti-slavery movement. I am now approaching ten years of involvement, thanks to an incredible teacher, Mariann Nogrady.
When I was thirteen, my eighth grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Nogrady, did a unit with us on modern slavery. We were outraged, and wrote letters to our representatives, telling them that slavery still exists and we want them to do something about it. We weren’t very clear on what we wanted them to do, but we wanted something to be done.
In high school I joined Unitarian Universalists Against Slavery. In 2003, Barney Freiberg Dale, founder of UUAS, invited me to go with him to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly to help represent UUAS. There I helped staff an informational booth, one we shared with Free the Slaves. That was where I met [Free the Slaves President] Kevin Bales for the first time.
As a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I invited Kevin Bales to speak in my Hunger in a Global Economy class, as well as a class in the women’s studies department. That event sparked the idea to create a group at UMass dedicated to fighting slavery. A couple years later, former Free the Slaves intern Steve Hoeschele and I founded the UMass Anti-Slavery Club.
As president of the UMass Anti-Slavery Club, I recruited new members, organized meetings and staffed an informational table in the campus center. I also planned the first Freedom Walk, soon to be an annual event. The Freedom Walk was a five mile fundraising and awareness-raising walk through campus and town. We carried signs, sang old freedom songs like “We shall overcome,” and told curious passersby about modern slavery. All told, we raised just over $1000.
Being in that walk was a great moment. I felt a connection to the freedom fighters of old, as well as all the ones working for change all over the world today. We sang the words, “deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall all be free someday,” and I could feel the power of those words echo throughout my being. There is nothing so exhilarating as being a part of a movement.
Today I work for that movement full time, as a Free the Slaves intern. Every morning I go to work with people who believe as I do, that “we shall all be free someday,” and have dedicated their lives, as I have, to making that happen. And every evening I go home knowing that the work I did that day will help to free slaves and end slavery.
The Stop Modern Slavery Walk at the National Mall in Washington, DC is right around the corner. And Free the Slaves is looking for people to join our team!
If you are on DC on Saturday, October 23, we want you to walk with us. To take part, go to http://walk.stopmodernslavery.org/, and register. Select “Join a team,” and pick “Free the Slaves”! Bring friends, neighbors, families, distant acquaintances, bitter enemies—all are welcome.
Joanna Castle Miller, on her blog Marginalized People wrote a piece today about why she plans to walk against slavery:
“It is to join physically with the many men, women and children who are currently wandering against their wills.
While we walk the streets getting somewhere important, window shopping, working out, goofing off, or even raising money for a great cause, we often forget that wandering for pleasure is a luxury.
In walking for marginalized people, we can act out with our bodies the migrant life.”
For more information on Team Free the Slaves, contact us. See you at the National Mall!