Ati* (real name changed for privacy
and protection), originally from
Indonesia, was enslaved in domestic
servitude in the U.S. for ten years
before being rescued.
We met at Dawn’s Place, where she
recovered and I volunteered.
With the help of our volunteer group, Ati—
and other survivors of human trafficking and
commercial sexual exploitation—practiced English,
learned American customs and developed
friendships in dignity and freedom.
We did this during activities like quilt-making.
On weekends when survivors didn’t have
medical or psychological treatments or
weren’t learning vocational skills, we’d visit
local botanical gardens or a café. We’d
photograph our hands or feet so that their
faces would not be revealed.
While at Dawn’s Place, Ati learned English,
self-confidence and new job skills. Today she is a self-
sufficient member of the community.
She had always dreamed of getting married—
something that could happen only in freedom. Last
year she married.
Only in freedom
can we work toward our dreams.
For 10 years, Ati endured a life that is the
plight of 29.8 million people today,
according to the Global Slavery Index. She
was a slave—unpaid, unable to leave, and
subject to violence or threat of harm.
There are more slaves today than at any
other time in history.
Why does it still exist?
Slavery still exists because of four
Together, they form a strong, well-oiled machine.
People who are homeless, hungry, illiterate, in
crisis or caught up in war or a natural disaster
are vulnerable to exploitation and deception.
Human traffickers exploit vulnerable people
through labor and/or sex. According to the
International Labour Organization, human
trafficking is a $32 billion industry.
Consumers who buy sex or unfairly-traded
goods keep that business strong.
When we don’t demand and purchase fair-trade
coffee, tea, sugar, tomatoes, makeup, soccer balls,
rugs and other products, WE keep it going.
Until WE—as a society—demand that modern
slavery stops, it will continue.
Rotarians to the Rescue
In addition to the projects mentioned
in the April program, here are other
great Rotary projects that
strengthened vulnerable people and
A Motorcycle for Field Workers at
Bal Vikas Ashram
a center for boys rescued from slavery in India
The motorcycle allows field workers to check on the safety and
ongoing health and welfare of boys after being reunited with their
families. Three Rotarians (including me on the motorcycle) saw
the motorcycle and liberators (eyes blanked out in the photograph
for their confidentiality) in 2010.
A Higher Wall for Punarnawa Ashram,
a center for girls rescued from sex slavery in India. When a new road
was built next to the center, it effectively shortened the wall surrounding
the campus, allowing traffickers potentially to get into the center and re-
capture the girls. So members of the Rotarian Action Group Against
Child Slavery and clubs in England, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
provided funds to make it higher.
Solar Streetlights for Punarnawa Ashram.
I loved this project because the streetlights allowed girls to
study in the evenings even though there isn’t consistent electricity.
When I visited the center in 2011, the lights made me feel a lot safer
and made it possible to walk around campus after dark. Furthermore,
the girls learned to install the lights, providing them another skill.
Rotarians are helping disable the monster
of human trafficking because they are
addressing slavery’s four components.
They are strengthening vulnerable people.
They are learning to use their country’s
human trafficking hotline #s.
They are switching to fair-trade products.
They are no longer turning a blind eye… and they’re telling
their fellow Rotarians about the problem.
Want to be one of those Rotarians who
is fighting human trafficking?
It’s not as hard as you might think.
What if we could teach children to
read, provide them with food,
and free an enslaved village…
all in one project?
Actually we can.
Because that’s how creating
sustainable freedom works.
It all starts with a school.
Keep reading this
One World Rotary e-Club
program to find out
Thanks for listening, helping and
fighting the monster together.
Cover image: Girl crying,
painted by survivors of child