Here's something to think about: what would you advise Lincoln to do about modern slavery if he were president today? Start a conversation about that at schools, churches, dinner parties, book groups and community gatherings. It will let your friends know that slavery still exists, and that they should join you in helping to end it.
We have an amazing success story to report, an example that demonstrates our model of battling slavery through community action is working. One man's escape in India has been leveraged into freedom for 27 adults and 24 children.
The man, Ram ji, escaped from a brick factory and sought advice from a local community vigilance committee. These committees, trained by Free the Slaves and our local partners, work like a neighborhood watch for traffickers.
The committee asked Ram ji if he would help everyone escape the factory by returning and preparing them for a mass rescue.
Despite the danger, Ram ji went back. And when authorities raided the factory, 51 people put slavery behind them. One survivor summed up the excitement simply: "I'm running to freedom!"
Free the Slaves South Asia Director Supriya Awasthi was on hand to ensure authorities did a thorough job. She helped children climb into rescue trucks.
"As I lifted those kids," Supriya says, "I knew they would remember this day, and they would never get on another truck to be taken off to slavery."
You can see more photos and read Supriya's account of this rescue on theFTS blog. She's now following-up with villagers to ensure they don't fall back into slavery. Free the Slaves has supported 10 similar raids in northern India in the past year. You can learn more about our community-centered approach on our India webpage.
This summer brought a watershed victory for the corporate transparency and anti-slavery movements. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now requires companies to investigate their supply chains and disclose if their products contain minerals from conflict areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or surrounding areas.
If their products do contain "conflict minerals," companies must report what they're doing to ensure the profits don't go to abusive armed groups.
The new rule is important because conflict minerals not only fuel one of history's deadliest wars. Free the Slaves research has documented that rebel groups and army commanders force Congo residents into slavery at many mining sites.
Free the Slaves worked with other activists, corporations and investment firms to support the new reporting requirements. Congress directed the SEC to develop the new rule as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Four minerals are targeted for corporate disclosure: tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. All are commonly used to manufacture electronic devices – from cell phones and televisions to computers and high-tech components.
"It's an historic day, both for Congo and for the movement toward responsible investment at large," says Free the Slaves Programs Director Karen Stauss. The next step: persuading Congress to require companies to investigate their supply chains for all forms of slavery, not just Congo conflict minerals.
You can learn more about the impact of Congo slavery, and your connection to it as a consumer, in our mini-documentary: Slavery in Your Pocket.
If you work for the U.S. government, you've probably heard of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). It allows you to automatically make charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations directly from your paycheck each month.
We're proud to say that Free the Slaves has again been approved for these donations from federal government employees. Our CFC number is 11482.
Recurring donations, no matter how large or small, are vital so Free the Slaves can budget for ongoing frontline work in India, Nepal, Ghana, Congo, Brazil and Haiti.
If you're a federal employee, please consider making a recurring contribution.
If you're not a federal employee, you can still make a monthly gift to Free the Slaves through our website donation page. Contributions are tax deductable. Thanks!