July 30th is World Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and HOPE is helping to raise awareness of this important issue that affects millions of lives every year.
West Bengal, the area of India where The Hope Foundation works, is a vulnerable place for human trafficking. The area serves as a central location for intra and interstate human trafficking and women and children are high risk targets for the sex trade. Children are regularly rescued from the streets by HOPE’s Nightwatch ambulance. Their stories are as horrific as they are heart-breaking.
“Trafficking” is modern day slavery, where all rights are denied, the human spirit is crushed and life is lived in an invisible prison with no hope and no future. As many as 26 million men, women and children worldwide are today suffering in modern slavery.
In West Bengal, there are an estimated 30,000 trafficked men, women and children hidden in daily life. International borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, along with high crime levels promotes a climate of exploitation and toxic conditions for human trafficking.
HOPE works in 4 districts with the HCWS (Halderchak Chetana Welfare Society) to implement anti-trafficking projects. These projects follow two goals: to build the capacity of the community through awareness-building, and to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficked victims back into society.
HOPE projects include forming groups at village, area, and district levels, forming pressure groups for community-driven networking, advocacy, legal support, healthcare, psychological support and income generation support. HOPE has worked in partnership with HCWS for over a decade, and through our extensive work on eliminating trafficking in India, we have learnt that empowering families and creating sustainable futures is an essential component to eliminate trafficking forever. Next year we will introduce a poultry industry into this project, which will provide approximately 2,000 families with a new and long-term source of income. This will result in families breaking the cycle of poverty, forever, and enable them to place their children into school.