Survivor Engagement and Leadership
Free the Slaves works with survivor activists around the globe to document the injustice, insecurity and indignity of modern slavery and to support their activism for urgent action to eradicate human trafficking worldwide. We have helped pioneer a survivor-centered approach since our inception.
Survivor experience brings a unique perspective at local, regional and global levels. We are creating, strengthening and supporting locally-based networks of survivors to mobilize and educate communities and local decision-makers. The networks are aimed at enhancing survivor-centered leadership by providing capacity-building, advocacy, mobilization and movement-building opportunities to survivors. This enables innovative approaches when responding to modern slavery and supports effective coordination and learning. In Kenya, for example, Free the Slaves is promoting survivor empowerment and self-sufficiency, in a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach that ensures the protection of confidentiality.
Some of the Remarkable Survivor-Activists We’ve Worked With
No little girl dreams of becoming a sex slave when she grows up. That’s why Tina Frundt braves dangerous streets in the middle of the night to reach out to teens who are trapped. “I’m a survivor of sex trafficking,” Tina says, “and, quite honestly, nobody did this for me.” Read more | Watch her profile video
Josefa Condori Quispe
Josefa Condori Quispe left her small village in Peru at age 9 to work as a maid in Lima. After spending much of her life as a house slave, she managed to get an education and escape domestic servitude. She founded Yanapanakusun to fight the root causes of slavery, and she runs a shelter for young slavery survivors. Watch her profile video.
Roshan Lal grew up in a family of slaves, in an Indian village where slavery is common custom. Here, bondage is pervasive, crippling and conventional. Generations of villagers toil under slavery’s brutal routine and know nothing else—until now. As a slavery survivor, Roshan works as a paralegal to help free others. Read Roshan’s story here.
James Kofi Annan
James Kofi Annan was sold into slavery at age 6 and worked 17-hour days on fishing boats. He escaped, taught himself to read, opened a school, and now rescues child slaves from fishing villages. He does for others what he wishes someone could have done for him. Read more | Watch his profile video | Watch him rescue children from slavery.
Timea Nagy answered an ad to work temporarily in Canada. But when she arrived, she realized she had been tricked. After months as a sex slave, she devised a daring escape. She then founded Walk With Me to support other victims and train Canadian cops to recognize and respond to sex slavery. Watch her profile video.
Mamady Diamanka had traveled 500 miles to see slavery for himself, unaware that he would find a member of his own family trapped in a street begging gang. Without hesitation, he lifted his 12 year old nephew into his arms, away from danger, and helped return him to his parents. Read the story here.
The mistreatment of residents from Kukdaha was typical of Indian “brick belt” slavery. You might think that once freed, they would never want to make bricks again. But these survivors decided to do in freedom what they did in slavery. Except this time, they’d get paid and use the earnings to build new lives in freedom. Read their story here.
Seema & Kamala
Seema and Kamala sought jobs overseas—and were trafficked into slavery. They worked backbreaking hours for no pay and suffered dehumanizing abuse. Finally freed, these courageous women now help save others in Nepal from the same awful fate. Read Seema’s and Kamala’s stories here. See their video profile here.
Benita’s parents died when she was 13. Her older brother threatened to starve her or to send her out of the house if she couldn’t contribute to household expenses. One option was to find a husband. Instead, she went to the mines. Now, she’s free and teaching dressmaking skills to others so they don’t end up in slavery too. Read her story here.
It’s called the “brick belt” of India, a notorious region where debt bondage slavery is rampant and devastating. Enslaved villagers are threatened, degraded, shamed and sometimes beaten to death. It sounds like an impossible challenge for human rights activists. But it isn’t. The villagers of Sakdouri are proof. Read their story here.
Imagine being denied the right to govern your own life. Imagine being beaten, stripped of your dignity, deprived food, water, shelter, money, and education. That’s the reality of modern-day slavery. A man named Munnu, a slavery survivor in Northern India, decided to take action to bring slaves into freedom. Read Munu’s story here.
Elias & Nerisvan
Their living and working conditions were dangerous and dreadful. They endured frequent exposure to toxic chemicals. But now, the two are free. They’ve received critical medical care and thousands of dollars in compensation from the Brazilian cattle rancher who enslaved them. Read Elias and Nerisvan’s story here.
On Lake Volta in Ghana, child slaves are forced to work day and night on dangerous and deadly fishing boats. Mabel was one of them, trafficked into slavery by her own impoverished family. Today she is free and getting an education. For the first time, she is safe to dream about her future. Read Mabel’s story here. See her video profile here.
The "Cookie Raid" Teens
In rural India it’s a familiar sad story. Children are taken or tricked; families are left frantic to help but powerless to act. The Cookie Raid boys were lured from their homes in rural India and trapped at a bakery in a faraway city. They were finally rescued thanks to the power of Free the Slaves community organizing. Read their story here.
Veero took a terrifying risk to break free from slavery. She slipped away, alone and on foot, from a farm where men were kept in leg irons and women were guarded by armed thugs. She now shows others how they can walk to freedom, too. Read more | Watch her profile video