Just six months ago Anita didn’t dare dream of a life beyond mind-numbing labor. The same kind of labor in the fields and quarries that her family has been forced to do for generations. Her entire village in northern India is in slavery.
Today, everything has changed.
Anita is in school. She loves studying Hindi and math. Some days she wants to be a teacher, others she wants to be an activist. She can dream now. It’s a new day. A new life. That’s what freedom looks like.
SLAVERY: THE BAD NEWS
There are nearly 30 million slaves on the planet today. That’s a staggering number. In fact, there are more slaves today than at any time in history. And we are talking real slavery. People forced to work without pay, under threat of violence and unable to walk away.
Slavery is not legal anywhere but exists everywhere. In India for example, entire villages have been in slavery for generations. That’s outrageous. We can do better. And we are.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Anti-Slavery experts say it is possible to end slavery in our lifetime. At Voices4Freedom, that’s the kind of global change we are interested in. There are lots of groups doing anti-slavery work, and no one group can do it alone. But in just three years, the AnonymousGood.orgsm community will help Voices4Freedom free at least 10 villages in India. That means putting an end to the daily terror and hopelessness of nearly 1300 men, women and children who were born, and would have otherwise died, in slavery.
Slaves from a remote village in northeast India are meeting clandestinely with front-line, anti-slavery activists from India (MSEMVS) and US-based Voices4Freedom. Despite fear of retribution from their slaveholders, these villagers are determined to find a path to freedom. They are learning that one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal against slavery is education.
EDUCATION AND SLAVERY
Many people don’t even know they are slaves. That is especially true in places like India where millions of villagers are illiterate, innumerate and isolated. Whole villages are enslaved by the same landholder families for generations because someone in the village borrowed money decades ago. Often the debt is as small as 18 dollars. The villagers believe they owe the landowner the money. Their work is just collateral and does not pay off their debt. They’re trapped. This form of slavery, known as debt bondage, is totally illegal. But in remote villages where no one is educated, no one knows their rights.
One of the most cost-effective, hopeful and sustainable ways to bring entire villages to freedom is through the introduction of transitional schools. Working with MSEMVS, Voices4Freedom’s project, Schools4Freedom, does just that. Bringing a transitional school (a teacher, books, a solar light, hot lunches and a simple covering) into an enslaved village is one of the fastest ways to break the cycle of slavery.
These children are on their way to freedom. They have been in a Voices4Freedom transitional school for six months. They are learning to read and write in Hindi and English. They already know their math tables to 20. They are also learning their rights and can never be fooled again.
EDUCATION IS THE PATH TO FREEDOM
Schools4Freedom acts like a Trojan horse, harboring a powerful weapon that goes undetected by slaveholders who often accept the school as somewhat harmless. But schools change the equation completely, operating as a source of education and transformation for entire communities. Not only do children learn their three R’s, but parents and children alike learn about their rights. They are taught how to organize together and act as a united front. Armed with education and information, slaves who were once vulnerable and exploited stand up and help to free themselves by refusing to work for corrupt slaveholders and forcing government officials to uphold the law. And it all starts with a school.
FREEDOM IN ACTION
Thanks to V4F’s partners at MSEMVS, many transitional schools are currently in place in India. After only three years, children who attend these school are able to enter government schools at grade level. In that same three years, adults free themselves by banding together to confront powerful slaveholders and claim their rights.
The people in this village are FREE. They painted pictures and made signs to tell others what was possible. This village alone inspired more than 100 other enslaved villagers to freedom. Freedom truly is contagious!!
In the AnonymousGood.orgsm community, there are people who have already begun the process and are supporting Schools4Freedom. That means we have a head start–383 people are on their way to freedom today. With your acts of Good and the support of our Champions 4 Good, soon it will be thousands. And that is really Good. Yay.
Life is Good!
Voices4Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping abolish slavery in our lifetime. We leverage education, media and entertainment to raise awareness about slavery, and we partner with front-line activists who are bringing slaves to freedom while attacking the systems that allow slavery to exist.
**Voices4Freedom is the parent organization of AnonymousGood.orgsm.