Inspired to fight slavery

Students around the world have been inspired to take up anti-slavery projects. They come from the richest countries and developing nations but everyone can find modern day slavery on their doorstep. Here they explain what they're doing and why.

Valentina Wicki

Zurich, Switzerland

I attend the Inter Community School Zurich. Although our school has always been committed to community service and global issues, human trafficking was not really a main topic.

In the past five years this has changed. We have held art auctions, fashion shows, Christmas markets, all to benefit and raise awareness for human trafficking.

Many of these projects have been run by students and focus on trafficking in Switzerland and Romania.

Personally, I have been part of a human trafficking awareness group since middle school. Last year, I created a graphic novel for a Grade 10 project, aimed at informing teenagers about this issue. I also raised some money by selling copies of this work. But most importantly, the research and involvement has exposed others and myself to the horrible realities that millions of people face around the world.

Adam Crittenden & Cynthia Jutras

Hong Kong

We live in Hong Kong and are the student coordinators for the Liberty Asia Students Against Slavery group.

In Hong Kong, the issue of slavery was rarely discussed. The issue remained hidden and there was little to no victim protection.

Today, Hong Kong is aware. There is so much student activity and emerging media coverage that Hong Kong has started to wake up to the fact that being tier 2 in the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons Report since 2009 is not exactly something to be proud of.

Students are aware of the illegal sex trade in Southeast Asia and have developed strong relationships with two amazing NGOs in Cambodia. Our regular contact over the years with survivors of the sex trade has ensured the relationship is based on mutual trust.

Melody Lim


In the past, human trafficking was a taboo subject within the international community.

No one would talk about as it as it was considered unpleasant and morbid. Most people were unaware of the situation's severity and often dismissed it as an irrelevant topic because it did not directly impact them or their way of living.

While I was attending an international school in Shanghai, China, I was involved in Eden Ministry which is an organization that rescues women from forced trafficking. They provide a shelter where the ladies can recuperate from psychological, emotional and physical abuse through counseling. Eden teaches jewelry-making as a new source of income and this is sold in bazaars hosted by international schools or communities.

They are also involved in helping pimps close down their businesses and to turn over a new leaf with honest paying jobs. Eden also creates preventive measures against trafficking.

When jewelry booths were set up in various international schools and communities, this created the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking.

We were able to create conversations with both adults and older teens about the situation's severity.

The responses were positive as people were more informed and they felt less intimidated by the topic. They were also given various suggested ways in which they could help such as buying the jewelry, being more aware of the products that they are purchasing or hosting a charity event.

Although their contributions appeared to be of little significance, the impact created from these simple actions had bigger implications on the industries that exploited from human trafficking.

Personally I was able to sell the jewelry of one of Edenʼs jewelry designers. This encounter was significant to me because the designer was a former victim of human trafficking. I was able to befriend her and seeing her face light up as people complimented and bought her jewelry simply made all the effort I had put in worthwhile.

Anah William

Dubai, UAE

Remember the Forgotten (RTF) is the name of our community theater group here at a private school in Dubai. We aim to raise awareness on global issues, specifically Human Trafficking, at our school.

For our first project in 2013, our group presented a pantomime to the middle school student body about the trafficking of a child servant. We also created a short video on organ trafficking and presented it to the high school at an assembly. We wrote and performed a dramatic interactive theatrical piece on world hunger for the elementary school.

So far we have a blog, a Facebook page and a twitter account to archive our work while raising awareness on this topic to a wider audience.

Nicolas Catalo

Luanda, Angola

I attend Luanda International School where I run a project on raising awareness of child trafficking for the school and the wider community. This project has been attempted in the past at our school but there had not been so much community involvement.

To initiate this project and start getting the word out about the events to come, I have been speaking at school assemblies, handing out informative brochures, and selling custom made bracelets.

So far with the help of both my school and the people with which I work with, this has picked up very rapidly and I am currently contacting nongovernmental and international organizations such as South African Counter-Trafficking Programme, Terre des Hommes, Save the Children U.K. and Angolan Women’s Organization.

Chris Dryden

Lima, Peru

I am a Canadian living in Lima, Peru where I attend Colegio Roosevelt, in Lima.

Human Trafficking has been an issue in Peru's past, especially regarding indigenous people in the Amazonas who are constantly coerced into prostitution.

Last year, I built a house through the NGO "Techo" for a family displaced from human trafficking in the Amazonas who moved to Lima to escape debt bondage.

Lovishniakri Sekaran & Manasvi Dwaraknath

Chennai, India

Here in our school, American International School Chennai, we have started a club called Global Issues Network which is a chapter based upon the international organization itself. In the club we address several issues such as poverty, education for all, global infectious diseases, and human rights.

In our middle school syllabus, modern slavery is discussed and students produce a short documentary video regarding a specific sub-topic of modern slavery such as forced labor, child trafficking, etc.

Over the summer, Manasvi and I contacted several organizations relating to the field. We were addressing the fact that we would like to help out apart from simply raising awareness and raising funds.

Many of the organizations did reply gracefully stating that as high school students, we only can play the role of raising awareness and raising funds. However, we have been actively seeking ways that we can play a larger role in fighting against modern slavery and child trafficking.

Chase Hommeyer

Varanasi, India

I graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, California last June. I was accepted to Princeton University, but I am currently taking a gap year through Princeton’s Bridge Year Program.

I am living in India for 9 months and working full-time at an NGO in Varanasi called Guria that fights human trafficking and forced prostitution in Northern India.

Although the San Francisco Bay Area is considered a human trafficking hotspot for the U.S., practically no one in my high school was aware of the issue at all. Our school has clubs and groups dedicated to fighting all sorts of social ills, but it seemed that nowhere was the term human trafficking ever mentioned.

Some friends of mine and I learned about human trafficking randomly, during research for a school project. We were shocked and appalled by the sheer size and organized, systematic nature of the issue. So, we decided to take action. We worked for weeks and created a day-long art and information exhibit at our high school that was designed to simultaneously evoke emotion and spread awareness. Each of our art pieces was focused on a certain aspect of human trafficking and was accompanied by our specific research findings for that aspect. It was an enormous success! Nearly the entire school attended our exhibit, and the community was buzzing for weeks after about it.

Because of this experience in my community, not only was I inspired to continue fighting this issue, but I also became aware of the fact that there is so much I don’t know about it. Human trafficking is a complex, deeply entrenched problem, and I knew I needed to step back and learn more so that I could approach the issue in a more informed way.

Princeton connected me to a small grassroots NGO called Guria. I am so lucky to have this chance to work for an organization on the rise. He doesn’t like to brag, but our founder Ajeet Singh has been widely recognized in the media for his innovative initiatives and has received many awards, most notably The Week India’s “Man of the Year 2011” and the CNN-IBN’s “2011 Real Heroes Award” in India.

Recently, Guria has been making bigger waves in the international community. This September, Ajeet was invited to be the sole speaker at the launch of The Freedom Fund in New York City and we recently released a bold report documenting 100 cases of severe police negligence in sex trafficking, rape, and child prostitution cases. Our work has gained the attention of many high-up officials in the Indian government. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh even ordered a special inquiry on the report.

The Guria team also succeeded in Varanasi in creating India’s first child-prostitution-free red light area!

Hopefully my year in India is just the beginning! I want to not only make a difference during my time here, but also make connections and learn skills that can contribute to a lifetime of service. Personally, I would love to connect to people around the globe fighting human trafficking and become part of the awareness movement. There is strength in numbers, but more strength comes from connections amongst those numbers.

Deeva Chablani & Shina Peng

Kobe, Japan

We are co-leaders of the child trafficking group at Canadian Academy in Japan.

The goal of this group is to spread the awareness that child trafficking is not an issue far from home. As leaders, we feel that the majority of our community is oblivious to the fact that child trafficking is an international issue.

We have begun making the members of our group aware of the issues that we need to cover, and we are preparing to reach out to the rest of our community.

We plan to do this through public service announcements and fundraisers that will be covered by CA’s media crew to show progress in our community and inspire progress in others.

Isabel Duque

Quito, Ecuador

I am a senior at Colegio Alberto Einstein. I believe that previous to the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Nigeria, a lot of the students here were not aware that human trafficking is still a concern in the 21st century. I myself was not aware of the magnitude of the issue in our modern global society until then.

Now, faculty and students at our school are trying to inform more people about the issue. Our first effort to raise awareness was back in April, when we participated in the #BringBackOurGirls effort -- which campaigned for the freeing of the abducted Nigerian girls. We also informed the middle school students on what exactly was happening, why we were all wearing red and taking the picture, so that they would be aware of what had happened in Nigeria.

Talking about human trafficking in school is still in its early stages, but we want to be part of the movement to raise awareness for the issue.

Shayann Hendricks

Atlanta, GA

Since finding out about the problem of human trafficking, I have had an immense interest in combating it. Learning of the issue as a freshman at Atlanta International School, and realizing that the victims of this vicious crime were my age and younger, I joined a community action, and service group that fought against the issue. In my sophomore year I became the leader of the school’s anti-Human Trafficking group and since then have worked to spread awareness and educate the community about this problem. Our group of 14 students has taken part in activist lobbying, hosted information sessions, raised funds, and participated in multiple training sessions to better understand the problem we are battling.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to spend additional time exploring and developing my passion for the issue. I received a grant from my school, which allowed me to travel to Bogota, Colombia, and spend two weeks working with multiple anti-human trafficking organizations there.

I worked initially with a group called Colombianitos. Their team, with bases all over Colombia, works against the guerilla group FARC. I spent my time with Colombianitos working with young children and getting involved in their education program, teaching the children math and English, and conducting interviews with families that had fled from the FARC.

I was also able to work with a group called Fundación Esperanza. This group works closely with the United Nations and the Colombian Government, lobbying and drafting anti-human trafficking legislation. I learned about their drafting process, and worked extensively with Oscar Gomez, their founder, documenting his work with anti-human trafficking in South American countries.

After returning from Colombia, I presented the information I had gathered to a global marketing and advertising firm in Atlanta, the Charles Jordan Group. They hoped to create a product that could generate revenue, which they would then donate to anti-human trafficking groups in South America.

I spent the summer interning with them as a researcher extensively studying their product and their consumer market, as well as how they might link their product to the fight against human trafficking, and the organizations they might donate to. It was an opportunity for me to learn about the economics of human trafficking, and how funding can be crucial bringing about change.

Jiyoung Park

Hong Kong

I am currently studying in the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

In 2013, a small group of university students began to realize the density of modern-day slavery through an international advocacy organization called International Justice Mission (IJM), which first initiated the campus-wide awareness raising campaign called “Stand for Freedom” where students stood for 27 hours on campus to raise awareness (27 hours to represent the estimated 27 million modern-day slaves around the world).

One thing that has changed considerably is the “Stand for Freedom” team itself. We currently have four core members, including myself. This year we are striving to be more structured and concrete. We have also partnered and connected organizations such as Liberty Asia and Partner’s International. Not only have they provided us with quality advice, but they have also linked us with rehabilitation centers in Cambodia and India respectively, where we channel the funds that we raise through bake sales.

I always keep in mind this statement made by Abraham Lincoln, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”