Contribute $25 Per Year to Proven, Grassroots Projects that Carefully Use Your Funds to Create Lasting Change… & I’ll Personally Double It
Kolab was an industrious little girl. Born to poor parents in rural Cambodia, she worked hard on the family farm; cleaning the house and tending the rice fields during the day, then collapsing each night in exhaustion. That was before she turned seven.
To her surprise and disappointment, Kolab learned that her “parents” weren’t actually her biological parents; they were opportunists who had purchased her shortly after birth for $1000 USD. Kolab could have guessed that she was being exploited for labour, but what could she do?
By age 13, Kolab’s “parents” had enough and rented her to another family, where she was again beaten and made to work long into the night. One evening, while the mother was out, the father raped Kolab; this is how she lost her virginity.
Eventually Kolab escaped these predators, only to be thrown into an even darker life. Kolab was taken by a gang, who drugged and raped her into submission. The gang then started selling her to local men and rape-tourists from nearby countries like Vietnam and Japan, up to 50 times per day; they even filmed it.
Kolab, terrified and effectively alone, started wondering, “the world is so big with many girls and women, why has this happened to me?”
I’ll try to explain the answer, fair warning: it’s heart-breaking. But first, a little about who I am, and why I’m sharing a story like Kolab’s.
I’m Michael Alexis – Children’s Rights Advocate, Investor & Philanthropist
I’m Michael Alexis and I started this project because I believe child exploitation is a solvable problem. A little about my background:
- I’m a lawyer, and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. I went to UBC Law in Vancouver, and worked with one of Canada’s largest firms, Miller Thomson LLP;
- I work as a consultant, with former and current clients like Ramit Sethi, Andrew Warner, Derek Halpern and Nick Gray;
- My writing and projects are mentioned in the New York Times, Financial Post, Forbes, Inc, and dozens of other online media.
Why am I fighting child slavery? I don’t know who the most vulnerable group in the world is, but no one can reasonably deny that children exploited for dangerous work or sex are far from the bottom. That’s reason number one.
Reason number two is awareness. My former professor, Ben Perrin, dedicates his career to fighting modern slavery. Ashton Kutcher, Not For Sale, Walk Free, The Exodus Road, and dozens of other organizations reached me with their message. I’m thankful that awareness is growing, and allowed me to recognize real slavery when I saw it on the streets of China and Southeast Asia.
In one sentence: there is a ladder that takes us from awareness to support to action, and I’ve been climbing it for awhile.
Ready to Fight Child Slavery?
Statistical Evidence of Child Slavery Around the World
There are 29.8 million slaves in the world, and that’s only a guess, some estimates are as high as 50 million. In 2000, UNICEF reported that 30 to 35 percent of sex trafficking victims in Cambodia are children.
Here’s what we know for sure:
- Human slavery is a profitable, multibillion dollar industry;
- Slavery is most visible in extreme poverty regions of Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, but is present in the U.S, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, China and in nearly every other country;
- Children are systematically exploited for profit, either to do dangerous forced labour, to sell drugs, or to be sold to rapists;
- The acceptable amount of slavery is zero.
Here is a map that shows the percentage of the population enslaved around the world. Darker regions indicate higher rates of slavery.
The above map can be misleading. In America the enslavement rate is just 0.02%; it’s not zero, but it sounds so small, right? The U.S population is nearly 320 million, which calculates to 64,000+ people in slavery, the equivalent of a small city.
Here is another map that shows world-wide slavery in absolute numbers. Notice that America, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and China are all darker; indicating that their large populations obscure the fact that they harbour millions of people in slavery, and those that enslave them.
Even with these data maps, it’s easy to dismiss slavery as something that happens somewhere else, but the reality is haunting. Slavery happens in our communities, and people in our lives are indirectly contributing to this industry every single day. Once you start to peel back the curtain, it’s disturbing just how close to home slavery actually is.
So what can we do about it?
How to Fight Back Against Child Slavery
I built a fund to fight child slavery. Throughout the year, the fund is allocated to field partners that have proven results and operational transparency. The partners may change, so I rigorously research each one to make sure they are credible and use the money efficiently. I have a strong preference for small, grassroots initiatives where the founder is directly involved.
The fund fights slavery in four ways:
1. Preventing vulnerability. Children become more vulnerable when their families lack education and financial stability. A portion of the fund goes to alleviating poverty.
Example Partner: Pencils of Promise
2. Extracting current victims. Helping current victims is urgent. There are a number of professional organizations that gather evidence and push authorities to conduct raids. A portion of the fund supports these agencies.
Example Partner: The Exodus Road
3. Supporting former victims. Because of their trauma, these children have complex psychological and physical health issues. Many children relapse or are pulled back into slavery. A portion of the fund supports the organizations that provide after-care to victims.
Example Partner: SHE Rescue Home
4. Influencing sustainable change. I believe child slavery is a solvable problem, but it requires systemic change in how governments and communities operate. I am searching for partners that work to influence this change.
Will You Contribute $25? Pledge to End Slavery
The fund is ready, and it needs your support to grow. I’m asking you to commit $25 per year to help. I will personally double the first 100 contributions; so you give $25 and I’ll give $2500. 100% of the funds go directly to on-the-ground programs. I will send an annual transparency email letting you know exactly how the money was used, and to the extent data is available, the impact we made.
You may have hesitations about giving, so let’s talk about the five beliefs that stop people from donating:
- You believe your donation is too small to make a difference. You are right. $25 on its own won’t move the needle, but this isn’t a solo action; it’s a collective one. If $5000 can pull three kids out of slavery, the numbers will compound over time.
- You believe money isn’t the problem. You are right. The problem is abusive perverts, cultural acquiescence, corrupt institutions, extreme poverty, and dozens of other factors. It’s a behemoth to fight. Your funds will put people on the field with the tools in their hands to give these kids a chance.
- You believe your money won’t directly go to helping people. You are right. I expect at a large scale, charities become more difficult to manage. This is a small effort and I am one of the top three most frugal people you know. I promise you that your donation will actually help people, and I will get the maximum leverage out of every single dollar.
- You believe you need the money for yourself and your family. You are right. Life is expensive. I can understand why $3 per day ($1095 per year), or even $30 per month ($360 per year) seems like too much when you are trying to pay rent and buy groceries. I’m asking you to commit $25 per year. If you are reading this, then you can choose to afford it.
- You believe slavery isn’t your problem. You are right. This isn’t a “you problem”, it’s an “everyone problem”. We are members of humanity, and I hold every one of us accountable to get this right. We got lucky and weren’t born in an area with rampant slavery. Not everyone is as lucky as us, and they need our help.
Are you willing to donate $25? I’ll double it. Join the pledge to end child slavery.
The #1 Reason to Join the Pledge
Look, there are a lot of reasons you may not donate to charity, but let me give you one more reason you should. Recall Kolab, the young Cambodian girl who was forced into labour, sold into slavery, and exploited by a dangerous gang for profit.
After two years, Kolab had earned the gangs trust, and hidden away enough money to try an escape. She did run away, and at the age of 15 experienced freedom for the first time in her life. It didn’t last, she was caught by the gang and forced to make more sex tapes.
On her second attempt, Kolab did get away, and found work in a massage parlour. Eventually a police raid pulled Kolab out of the system, and an organization supported her in starting to build a normal life. Kolab has dreams for the future, “I have decided to study hairdressing in the [organization’s] center to make a living. I’d like to become a good hairdresser or a staff member of [the organization], so I can help other victims.”
This is a powerful example of how people and resources can pull children out of a life of slavery they can’t escape on their own. Here’s another reason to support this cause, her name is “Sarah” and was forced into prostitution in Thailand…
Rescue Report | Northern Thailand | 2010.08.31
There was a line of young women behind a glass wall. They were sitting on high bar stools, with heavy make-up and short skirts, numbers pinned to their shoulders like cattle. Customers were choosing them one by one.
Then, they brought in Sarah. She was from a neighbouring country; dressed in street clothes, head down, hands fiddling nervously with a napkin. She was 15 and her mother sold her to pay off debt. Sarah’s virginity had been sold three days prior for $600 USD.
Sarah couldn’t speak the local language, was kept under close watch daily, and had no access to communication. She had been slipped illegally across borders and had no way to get home. Sarah was alone, scared and being sold for rape multiple times a night.
Here’s where it starts to get better…
Investigators were able to record the sale of Sarah, capturing evidence that could be passed to trusted authorities, and asked the government to conduct a raid. It was believed that 10 or more girls were also being held against their will at the same brothel.
The investigators, several NGOs, government and police agencies conducted a raid. It was a professional operation, which took the course of three days and resulted in the discovery of eight underage victims and the arrests of the brothel owners.
It took time, money and concerted effort, but Sarah was free.
This is the founding story of The Exodus Road, a charity that hires and equips investigators to fight child slavery by collecting evidence and supporting raids. This is just one approach of many, and one more story of countless.
I believe that modern slavery is a solvable problem, and that we have a moral duty to combat it. When I think about what these kids go through, every night, the question I ask myself is, “how could you give anything less than everything you can?”
If these ideas resonate with you, then I invite you to join me and start fighting back against a system that allows exploitation. It’s $25 per year, let’s pledge to end slavery.
Questions & Answers
Q. How will the money be used?
Throughout the year, the fund is allocated to field partners with proven results. My top priority is impact per dollar, and a long term focus on sustainable change. A portion of the fund fights each stage of enslavement: prevention, extraction and rehabilitation.
Q. Why is this an annual contribution?
We’ve learned from our field partners that lack of funds is only part of the issue, and that instability in funding can be even more damaging than not having the money in the first place. Charities need to plan resources ahead of time, so a regular, stable contribution helps them do so.
Q. How will I stay up to date on what’s happening?
I will send you an annual report with how the funds are used, and to the extent data is available, the impact we made. If enough people request it, I can send more frequent updates.
Q. Do I get a tax receipt?
Right now tax receipts are not available. If this project has enough interest, I will register it and start issuing charitable receipts.
The “Zero Harm” 30 Day, 100% Money Back Guarantee™
You may think it’s a little weird that I’m backing your donation with a 30 Day, 100% Money Back Guarantee. And it is weird, but it’s important that you have no regrets in supporting this cause. For up to 30 days you can take your $25 back for any reason; just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why “Zero Harm?” Because your actual donation will stay in the charitable fund, and I will send you $25 of my own money in its place. That way, it’s me that absorbs the refund and not the victims of trafficking.
Press “Donate Now” to Contribute $25 / Year
Donation Match: I will personally double the next 100 contributions; you give $25 and I’ll give $2500. Your contribution matters. ♥
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