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Working Together to Build a World Free of Slavery

December 19, 2014

Dear Friends,

The Freedom Fund is not yet one year old – it will reach that milestone on 24 December – yet there is already much to look back on, and so much more for us to do.

The holiday season is a time to be thankful, and I want to express my deep gratitude to all of you for your continuing support and encouragement to the Freedom Fund and our efforts to end modern slavery around the world. We are confident that together we can build a world free of slavery.

But it is also a time for reflection. And I can’t help but reflect on the fact that as we celebrate the holidays, more than 35 million girls and boys and women and men continue to live in a state of servitude, in every country around the world.

This year I had the fortune to meet Kassach in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kassach had escaped from domestic servitude in Kuwait, after suffering abuse from the family enslaving her there, and more violence from the police – but with the support of community groups back in Ethiopia had been able to rebuild her life, and share her experiences with others at risk of trafficking. We will start working in Ethiopia next year to help prevent other women and girls being trafficked to the Middle East.

I think of a 15 year old girl I met in Varanasi, India, who had been kidnapped, raped, sold off into a Mumbai brothel, and then liberated by a local community organisation. She had the courage to file a complaint against her trafficker – only to suffer rejection and harassment from the local authorities. She and her family are courageously continuing their fight for justice. And we will scale up our support for legal interventions in India next year to empower victims and survivors and our local partners in the fight against the traffickers.

Of course, there is much to celebrate. Some brief highlights from our year:

  • In the first six months of our Northern India hotspot, 775 people were reported rescued and 711 reintegrated with their families, and over 1000 rescued children or survivors’ children were newly in education.
  • We also commenced a hotspot in Nepal, and are on track to commence new hotspots in Ethiopia and Thailand in 2015.
  • To support slavery survivors in India, we partnered with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and launched Putting Justice First: Legal Strategies to Combat Human Trafficking in India at the Trust Women Conference in November.
  • With our partners Polaris and Minderoo Foundation, we launched the Global Modern Slavery Directory, an online database of more than 700 organisations around the world working against slavery, and growing.
  • On 2 December we were privileged to be present at the Vatican when Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a number of other religious leaders signed a joint declaration against modern slavery. Freedom Fund co-founder Walk Free Foundation was instrumental in bringing the faith leaders together. You can learn more about this momentous occasion here.

Finally, I am pleased to let you know that the Freedom Fund is to receive a generous $6 million investment from the Stardust Fund. Molly Gochman, a New York artist and human rights activist, is the Stardust Fund’s donor advisor and will also join our board of directors in January. Molly travelled with us to Northern India in October and experienced firsthand the impact of the Freedom Fund’s work liberating and supporting victims of slavery and witnessed the transformative impact of freedom for both children and adult survivors. This will be the first significant investment in the Fund since it was established by our three founding donors Humanity United, Legatum Foundation and Walk Free Foundation. We look forward to working closely with Molly, who plans to increase the impact of the investment through advocacy for our aligned values and our shared commitment to achieving measurable impact in our work.

While the fact that more than 35 million people are trapped in slavery today may seem overwhelming, I truly believe that our work to build a coalition of generous investors, global experts, and frontline partners is already having an impact, and can help end modern slavery. With your continued support, we can ensure that millions of girls and boys, and women and men can escape servitude.

Thank you very much for all for your contributions to our success during our inaugural year. We are humbled by your generosity and look forward to continuing to work with all of you to achieve our ambitious goals in 2015 and beyond.

With deep gratitude,


Nick Grono


P.S. I have also included a link to our video, Together Let’s Build a World Free of Slavery, in case you missed it.

Written by
Nick Grono