Here is a heartwarming update from two 2010 Freedom Award winners!
One of the most moving moments from the 2010 Freedom Awards occurred when Wilberforce Award winner Roger Plant announced from the stage that he was donating his cash prize to another award-winner, JEEVIKA. Founded by Kiran Kamal Prasad, Karnataka, India-based organization JEEVIKA works to eradicate bonded labor.
Roger’s father, Arthur Plant passed away just a month prior to the awards ceremony. So, Roger said, he was giving the money to remember his father, and to honor JEEVIKA’s work: “I hope [JEEVIKA] can use [the money] for a series of small grants. Let’s call them the Arthur Awards to show how even small sums can change people’s lives. I want to hold just a little amount back to go there in a year’s time to get to know the beneficiaries and see the impact on their lives. And I then hope to build bridges between thsi real work on the ground and the policy world, convincing others to use their money to tackle the causes of slavery, and help those who suffered from it.”
Watch video of Roger Plant’s Freedom Award acceptance speech below. To see the 2010 Freedom Awards in their entirety, go here.
JEEVIKA’s founder Kiran Kamal Prasad honored Roger’s request, and staged the Arthur Awards earlier this year. Kiran wrote about the ceremony on JEEVIKA’s website here. And, he sent Roger a letter detailing the program. Roger and Kiran shared this message with Free the Slaves, and we are sharing it with you now. Read the letter after the jump!
Later on this year, Roger will go to Karnataka, India, to visit with Kiran and the Arthur Award winners. We’ll keep you updated on the developments.
We received some exciting news today from India. 2010 Harriet Tubman award winning organization JEEVIKA works in Karnataka, a state in southern India where slavery in the form of bonded labor is prevalent. JEEVIKA’s founder Kiran Prasad works largely with the Dalits—a community historically put at the bottom of society, and disproportionately placed into bonded labor. Slavery is illegal in India, but societal pressures and prejudices allow it to prevail. Prasad and his staff empower the community with knowledge of the law, and support survivors of bonded labor through the long, legal process of emancipation.
Today, Kiran sent news that 102 bonded labors have been officially freed. They have all received release certificates, legally absolving them of obligations to their slave masters.
Earlier this month, Kiran, accompanied by former bonded laborer and current JEEVIKA community activist Shivanna Puttaiah, received a Freedom Award at a star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles. We are moved—and delighted—to see these photographs of Kiran presenting others with the gift of freedom.
In an email sent to FTS staff, Kiran said, “I emphasized the need to continuously identify the bonded labourers and rehabilitate them until the bonded system is wiped out.”
Despite seemingly insurmountable economic and social obstacles, JEEVIKA has helped guide thousands of former slaves toward freedom. To find out more about their work—and to donate to the organization—go here.
Karnataka, India—September 15 was JEEVIKA Day, a celebration of anti-slavery activism. For the first time ever, activists and representatives from local government convened for a public dialogue on the extent of slavery—and the government’s role in combating it.
Since 1990, the Indian NGO JEEVIKA has been working to end bonded labor and slavery in the state of Karnataka, India. Slavery is outlawed in India. But many are not aware of their legal rights, and bonded labor flourishes.
Headed by former Jesuit priest Kiran Prasad, JEEVIKA representatives go door-to-door to alert slaves that the law is actually on their side. They help bonded laborers file court papers and guide them through the legal process of emancipation and debt relief.
Because of their exemplary work, Free the Slaves has given JEEVIKA the 2010 Harriet Tubman Freedom Award, presented annually to one community-based organization that demonstrates how slavery can be dismantled and destroyed.
Here, exclusive to Free the Slaves, Kiran shares his reflections on JEEVIKA Day. (Text has been edited for length).