As 2021 draws to a close, I am proud to share a remarkable milestone. In the eight years since the Freedom Fund was founded, we have now directly helped one million people living in slavery or at high risk of exploitation.
We couldn’t have achieved this without the unwavering support of all our partners, funders and staff. Above all, I am deeply grateful for the tireless commitment of the frontline NGOs with whom we have had the privilege to partner around the world. Their courageous work to protect vulnerable populations, liberate and support survivors of modern slavery, and prosecute those responsible continues to have an enormous impact on some of the world’s most marginalised communities.
Among the many achievements that have gone into reaching this milestone, our grassroots partners in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Brazil have:
It’s easy to get caught up in the scale of these numbers, but behind these figures are real people deprived of their freedom to live, learn and earn as they choose. For me, it’s the Ethiopian women I met in a shelter in Addis Ababa, recovering from the trauma of having being trafficked into domestic and sexual servitude in the Middle East. And the young Burmese men who had been enslaved on Thai fishing boats and were now trying to rebuild their lives. And so many others.
While we are proud of this achievement and all that it represents, we are acutely aware that there are tens of millions still in slavery, and a huge challenge lies ahead of us all to measurably reduce this appalling number.
We are ever more conscious that the only way to structurally tackle extreme exploitation is by shifting power and mindsets. In the years ahead, we will continue to invest in direct grassroots support while deepening our focus on long-term, systemic change. We will be investing in networks of organisations, building coalitions to right power imbalances so that the system works for the most vulnerable, not against them.
Thank you once again for your steadfast support. I wish you a peaceful festive season and look forward to many more years of collaboration and partnership.