I came across the organization Children's Rescue Initiative in a Facebook post by their founder Bruce Ladebu. In looking through their website, http://www.thechildrensrescue.org/, I was touched by their photo albums of children in slavery and children rescued from slavery. Their organization frees children and families and provides safe houses with after care treatment and schools for them to develop their education and help with the transition back to society. Here are just a few images from their site.
Here is a boy working on a rug loom. Often this is where they eat, sleep and work with little food and rest. Many children have their finger tips burned to callus them to avoid going raw while working on the loom. Children enslaved in the looms often suffer severe respiratory problems from the rug fibers in the air and enclosed spaces.
These boys work under the abusive hand of a brick factory owner. Unless they are rescued, they will probably not live to be teenagers.
Bruce and Robert with a group of children in one of our schools!
We rescued these precious girls after we heard that the oldest sister had been raped and was pregnant by the slave owner. Our team went in and forcefully took the family and got them into a safe house.
We rescued this entire family from brutal conditions in a brick field
Bruce and Robert in ceremonial clothing given by the village where we are opening up a new school. This group of boys were all rescued from brutal slave conditions.
The Children's Rescue Initiative is currently focusing on major projects in Pakistan and Rwanda. Their work is dangerous and sometimes they are forced to use debatable tactics, such as buying children out of slavery, to save them. I like what they say about this on their website.
"We are taking and sometimes buying children out of slavery. We have paid money for many children. This is controversial, however in the very dangerous places where we operate, we must do things properly in order to avoid attacks and rioting. We use a variety of methods to free children. We NEVER deal with slave traders, only those who "own" the children. We negotiate debts that have kept these children in bondage. As of 2011, we have freed several hundred children from slavery."
I understand both sides of the argument on buying children out of slavery. But given the areas Children's Rescue initiative is operating, their experience in those areas and seeing some of the things they have accomplished, I think it's sometimes a necessary precaution to free these children.
I know I would be hard pressed to look into the eyes of an enslaved child, especially if it were my own, and not essentially pay a ransom for their freedom. This approach can lead to slave owners making a profit off organizations willing to pay for their freedom, only to go and enslave more children to work their fields, looms, brothels and other horrible situations no child should endure. It does not address the long-term means to end slavery, but it does address the immediate needs of that child. It's a tough dilemma that can vary on a case by case basis.
You can learn more at http://www.thechildrensrescue.org/.