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Preventing Human Trafficking And Slavery

Raj Melville

Preventing Human Trafficking and Slavery 

An audience of over 50 people packed the Tantric India Bistro on April 5th to hear five dedicated organizations speak about their activities around the world to Prevent Human Trafficking and Slavery. In this day and age, one is amazed to learn of the extent and pervasiveness of this practice. Audience members were surprised to hear that though slavery is outlawed around the world, the practice of indentured servants and of selling people into various forms of servitude continues in all quarters of the globe including affluent westernized nations. One of the organizations estimated that over 27 million people are enslaved in various professions around the world.  

The five organizations presented different aspects of work being carried out to help end this scourge, to help free people who are being exploited and enslaved, and to rehabilitate and support the affected by providing them with education and livelihood.  

  • Beatrice Fernando founded the Nivasa Foundation as a Sri Lankan survivor of trafficking herself. She poignantly described her own and other survivors stories, of being locked up as an indentured servant in a foreign land, of being beaten and not having any place to turn to. She also spoke of the hundreds of women who are still caught in this cycle of oppression not being able to visit or see their family and children for months, sometimes years. Her organization focuses on supporting the children of repatriated victims by providing them with support and education.  You can learn more about their work and help them at: http://www.nivasafoundation.org/index.html
  • Urmi Chakrabarti a counselor at MataHari/Eye of the Day described the work their organization does dealing with the thousands of cases, of people, mostly women and girls, who have been trafficked. They help the trafficked to lobby for their rights and connect them with groups that provide services to support them as they transition out. Their website is: http://eyeoftheday.org
  • John McDonagh and Shobha Narasimha board members of The Emancipation Network described the work their organization does to help rehabilitate and reintegrate survivors of slavery by giving them the tools to rebuild their lives and create a livelihood. Working with rescue shelters, they help teach skills that will provide them with a stable environment. Their organization also has an online store where jewelry and other accessories made by survivors may be purchased. The entire operation is certified to Fair Trade standards and provides a safe and protected environment for the survivors to work. You can see some of the wonderful products at their site at http://www.madebysurvivors.com/
  • Flying in directly from India to the venue that evening, Shanti Muthu spoke in great depth about the work Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA or in English the Save our Childhood Movement), undertakes in India to help prevent child exploitation in sweatshops around the country. BBA works together with government authorities to rescue children and reunite them with their families.  It works aggressively to raise awareness of child exploitation and to proactively prevent use of child labor. Once freed, BBA also works on rehabilitating the children to recover from the physical and mental stresses they have undergone.  You can learn more about their work at http://bba.org.in/
  • Eric Goodwin, Founder and Central Team Member and Tiffany Chen, Central Team Member. Human Trafficking Students (HTS) described the work of their newly formed organization that is working to increase academic engagement with the subject of Slavery/Human Trafficking. They have been working across campuses to build awareness and coordinate the various student and academic efforts in support of this cause. They can be reached at  http://humantraffickingstudents.webs.com/

The stories were emotional and personal in many cases and moved the audience to action.  The interaction and networking continued past the time allocated for presentations. The attendees feedback was universally positive and many expressed a desire to attend future such events to learn more about innovative social organizations such as these.  

The purpose of these monthly events is to help create a networking hub for greater Boston where social entrepreneurs can meet and exchange ideas and connections with others who are interested in social impact. This will be a regular monthly feature at Tantric India Bistro on the First Monday of the month under the joint sponsorship of Mary Sen, proprietor of the Tantric India Bistro, The TIE Boston Social Entrepreneurs Group and NETSAP Boston. The next event will be on May 3rd from 6.30 onwards and the organizations presenting will all be centered around “Education” both here in the US as well as around the world. For more information, visit: http://www.meetup.com/Social-Entrepreneurs-Group-Boston/

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