Walk for Freedom and the end of slavery

Human trafficking is destroying lives, but the A21 Campaign is taking action.

By Kimberly Linares, Staff Writer

Walk for Freedom is an annual global fundraising and awareness event where thousands of abolitionists take millions of steps in hopes of abolishing slavery within the 21st century.

Walk for Freedom is coordinated by the A21 Campaign, a non-profit organization that fights trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced slave labor, involuntary domestic servitude and child soldiery. A21 came about when motivational speaker Christine Caine walked through the airport in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 2007 and noticed a number of posters with pictures of girls missing. After long research, she discovered that the girls were being trafficked. Caine decided to take action and, with her husband, founded A21 in 2008 in the hopes of educating people about trafficking.

“[Human trafficking] happens when the world closes their eyes and pretends something isn’t happening. When you no longer care about the process of how something gets to you but you just want the end result, then you close your eyes to what’s going on,” said Caine on an interview for End Slavery Now in a blog article.

The Walk for Freedom takes place on October every year, with the purpose of shaking the foundation of slavery. Abolitionists walk in single file lines wearing black shirts with the message, “abolish slavery with each step.”

“The world without slavery is possible, and while human trafficking is destroying lives, we know that freedom will have the final word,” said Caine on a video published on the A21 website.

Traffickers use different methods when trying to recruit a victim. Known ways in which A21 survivors have been trafficked globally have been because of false job advertisement, sold by family, abduction, trafficked by a friend or false immigration.

“I was drugged and made to beg on the streets during the day, and at night I was forced to have sex with foreigners,” said Rose, an A21 Thailand survivor, on a video.

The child advocacy program in Thailand houses the police and A21 program, meaning that when the police finds a child that is a potential victim of trafficking, they are able to bring the child to a safe environment filled with psychologists, doctors and resources needed to help victims undergo this difficult hardship. Despite Rose’s horrific story filled with abuse, Rose walked out with a future, receiving her life back. A21 was able to place Rose and her sister back in Cambodia with a foster family.

The signs of human trafficking are easily recognizable. If another person controls the individual or if there are signs of physical abuse, bad health and malnutrition, such clues help identify a slave victim.

A-Teams are an extension of A21 these teams are made of abolitionists that use their time, talent and influence to fundraise and educate others by spreading awareness on a topic that has been ignored by society.

“I knew I wanted to do something about human trafficking. A-Teams has equipped me with the resources to turn my passion into action,” said an A-Team member.

Slavery is the fastest-growing organized criminal enterprise in the world, making more than $150 billion every year, according to A21.

The operational strategy – and the heart cry of the organization – is to reach, rescue and restore, all of which positively impacts the survivors in the hopes of bringing back the lives of those that have momentarily lost it.

The 2019 Walk for Freedom interest form is now available on the website at a21.org/walk. It will take place on Oct. 19.

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