HERE'S THE STORY:
Kids Saving Slaves
Kestral Bruce, Kaden “KK” Kessel, Jack Mete, and Max Sever
Did you know that today slavery is illegal everywhere but it still happens everywhere? It is estimated that there are at least 27 million people currently enslaved around the world, which is double the number of Africans enslaved during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Of those slaves, over 8,000,000 are children. In Haiti alone, it is estimated that ten percent of the population under 18 is in some form of forced labor. And this is not happening only in poorer countries; each year, thousands of slaves are trafficked into the United States where they work in fields, mines, restaurants, homes, factories, and many other locations. In fact, there are an estimated 14,500-17,500 men, women and children trafficked into the U.S. every year. Human trafficking is the modern-day slave trade.
We are a group of 6th graders in Dr. Paul Astin’s class at Mariposa School of Global Education in Agoura Hills. Our class of 24 students has chosen different problems in the world to target through research and fundraising. In addition to the problem of child slavery that our table group is focusing on, other students in our class are fighting the problems of childhood cancer, environmental pollution, and the lack of education in many parts of the world.
So why did we choose child slavery? Well, about half of the slaves in the world today are under the age of 18, and two children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation. To be clear, slavery does not mean not liking your job, or having to do chores you don’t want to do. It means working without pay or with very low pay and not being allowed to leave your job. While many people are tricked into becoming slaves by being promised a paying job, in some situations, parents actually sell their children into slavery out of desperation. Imagine a family in Ghana that has a ten-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. There is a good chance that the parents are working full-time every day, including weekends, and still don’t have enough money to feed the family or pay for school fees. They might very well sell their daughter into slavery to simply have enough to eat. The situation today is especially horrific because the average cost for a slave sold in the world in modern times is $90, much less than what slaves used to cost. The world population is now so large that the average price of slaves has come down because there are so many vulnerable people. This means that slaves are more expendable today and can be treated even worse than they were hundreds of years ago.
As students, we feel very bad about the situation of modern slavery. However, we also feel lucky that we get to live in a place where we aren’t being sold into slavery. We believe that together, we can end slavery in our lifetime. Everyone has a part to play, including governments and people alike. Many of the things we use today, such as clothing, computers, cars, and cell phones are often made with slave labor. However, we can avoid products that are connected to the slave trade if we focus on purchases that utilize fair-trade and direct-trade networks, and if we buy sweatshop free products.
Before we began our research, we never really thought there were slaves in the world today. So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that there are, in fact, tens of million slaves around the world, many even in our own country.
To raise money to support organizations that are fighting child slavery, our class has made a CD of original music called “One Step Closer,” using a group of electric keyboards in our room. Seventy five percent of the money we earn from donations and CD sales will go to a Washington-based non-profit called Free the Slaves and the other 25% will support an organization called Love146. If you want to make a difference, you can buy our CD or simply donate and we will forward your donation to an organization working to end slavery. In fact, for less than the price of seeing a movie with a friend this week ($14), you can provide a year’s schooling for a freed child slave in Ghana. In India, $150 can fund a raid that frees a small group of sweatshop children, and helps them lead a decent life, one that every child deserves. Our personal mission is to raise enough money by selling our CD to free fifteen slaves, and to know that we made a difference. Please help us by telling people about the seriousness of the problem of modern slavery. You can find a link to buy our CD or make a donation at a website we have created calledwww.KidsSavingSlaves.org.
- There are 27 million slaves in the world today
- 2 children per minute are trafficked for exploitation
- Slavery is illegal everywhere, but it still happens everywhere, even in the U.S. and the U.K.
- $90 is the average cost of a human slave
- Trafficking in people is the second most lucrative crime in the world
What You Can Do
- Educate yourself: learn about slavery (links at our website)
- Only buy fair-trade coffee and sweatshop-free clothing: they’re more likely to be slavery-free
- Buy our CD or donate. All of the money will go to organizations trying to solve this problem. Our goal is to free 15 child slaves.www.KidsSavingSlaves.org
- Tell your friends: raise awareness
Our teacher, Dr. Paul, is a professional jazz pianist and everyone in our class has been taught how to play an electric keyboard. He invited a professional saxophone player, Rob Kyle, to come to our class and record a CD with us. We used original compositions that we created in trios and quartets on our own to produce the CD, which we’re selling to raise money for our cause. You can buy the CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/onestepcloser