Invisible Traffick Visit Antrim Primary School

Today our Education Facilitator was at Antrim Primary School speaking to P6 & P7s delivering Invisible Traffick’s education pack, Visi’s World.

She talked about the relationship between child labour & chocolate, specifically Easter eggs & also the Fairtrade options available

She had baskets filled with Easter eggs as part of a game. She gave them a character, e.g., a 10 year old child labourer in the Ivory Coast and a 10 year old living in Northern Ireland, and a fair trade farmer

She then read out statements like, I can express my own opinions, I can buy sweets etc.

If that was true for their character, then they could put an egg in their basket. At the end they counted them and then the rest of the pupils had to guess who had which character depending on how many eggs they had.

The kids were great and asked so many questions!

At Invisible Traffick we believe educating children leads to change & change leads to action!

If we could visit a school you know please get in touch at chloe@invisibletraffick.org We would love to hear from you!

Invisible Traffick Clothes Swap

Our lovely Education Facilitator hosted a clothes swap in aid of Invisible Traffick!  Everyone attending was encouraged to bring 3 items of clothes to swap for another 3.  It was a lovely evening topped off by the Origin coffee bar providing tea, coffee and treats!

Thank you to everyone who came along, helped organise the event and made very generous donations all in aid of helping to free our local victims of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.

Guest Blog: Olivia Rana, Author of Elastic Girl

 “I had to do something to raise awareness of this issue of trafficking, and it was to write a book.”

 Olivia Rana

 

In 2011 I had very little awareness about the issue of trafficking. It wasn’t particularly prevalent in the media here, none of my friends talked about it, so in my mind it was something that happened in other places, something I didn’t need to bother myself about.

 

This detached and somewhat unfeeling attitude changed when I least expected it. I was playing with my baby daughter on our living room floor when a charity appeal came over the radio. It was for a charity called the Esther Benjamin’s Trust. The founder, Philip Holmes was talking about the work they were involved in with rescuing children from circuses in India.

 

Holmes spoke about how children as young as five years of age were “sold by their parents into circuses where they became prisoners, trapped in a world of unrelenting physical training, routine beatings, starvation and sexual abuse”.

 

As he spoke a shiver ran down my spine. My daughter is half Indian, her grandparents both from the Punjab region in the north of India. In different circumstances, in a twist of fate, she could have been one of those children. The problem of trafficking suddenly didn’t feel so far away.

 

Shocked by what I’d heard in that interview, I began to research the problem, specifically of trafficking into Indian circuses. Many of these children were trafficked from Nepal, girls there favoured for their fair skin. Desperately poor parents were enticed by traffickers offering their children a glamorous life in the circus, and a chance to earn some money. Quite often these children were sold for as little as £10 and were taken hundreds of miles from home to somewhere where they couldn’t speak the language and had no chance of escape. Many of them never set eyes on their families again.

 

©Paul McCambridge – Northern Ireland – 2018.
Human Trafficking, West Bengal, India.
Shilpa(16), was rescued after being sighted in a hotel come brothel catering for clients along the busy lorry routes north of Kolkata. She was trafficked by a man who’d she known for a while and had lured her with false promises of love and marriage. He sold her to a brothel where she had to endure 5-8 customers per day each paying Rs400(€5.60).

 

I couldn’t get these stories out of my head, stories about girls like Kumari Lama, who was sold to the circus when she was only five years old. Kumari was beaten unconscious with a rope, and fell thirty foot during a trapeze act. She couldn’t walk for three months, but was then forced back into the ring. Or Deepa, who had to rise at 4am every morning for hours of training and beatings. “Early in the morning the trainer used to teach us how to walk the tightrope, ride the unicycle, and jump from moving vehicles. If relatives from home came to visit, they weren’t allowed to see us. They would not even allow us to send letters; if they found us trying to send them they would beat us.”

 

©Paul McCambridge – Northern Ireland – 2018
Human Trafficking, West Bengal, India.
Schoolgirls wait for their bus home. Bus stops and train stations are vulnerable areas for women and young girls, as many have been trafficked from and through these areas.

 

Many of these young girls suffered sexual abuse by men in the circus, had to work seven days a week and received little or no pay. After reading all these stories, I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer. I had to do something, so I began to write.

 

My novel, Elastic Girl came to me, based on the stories of many of these young girls. The main character, Muthu is sold into the circus at the age of eleven, and like many children who were trafficked into the circus she is excited about the prospects of a better life, and the opportunity to make something of herself. However her dreams soon turn into a nightmare when she is forced into a gruelling schedule of training and performances, and subjected to horrific abuse.

 

Through Muthu’s journey, Elastic Girl takes a stark look at the tragic realities of trafficking, but it is also a book about hope and about how individuals can overcome so much suffering. It makes us reflect on what we take for granted and it forces us to think about the subject of trafficking, rather than turning away from it.

 

Since writing Elastic Girl I’ve become so much more aware of trafficking on a global level and the fact that it doesn’t just happen in ‘other places’. Whilst it is more prevalent in economically deprived areas like Nepal and India, trafficking is also very much a growing problem here in the UK and Ireland. The National Crime Agency have reported that last year more than 5,000 potential victims of slavery were reported to UK authorities, and sadly the number of children thought to be victims has risen by 66% since 2016. This is only a fraction of the real problem, as many of the cases are never reported. It is our moral duty to try and combat this horrific problem in whatever way we can, though educating ourselves, supporting local charities such as Invisible Traffick, and petitioning for better public education and anti-trafficking legislation.

 

Since the release of my book I have had hundreds of people contacting me to say that Elastic Girl has shocked them and made them think about the issue of trafficking. ‘It will draw you out of your comfortable life and into a horrifying and cruel world, and is exactly what is required to create the change that is desperately needed’ (review from OnlineBookClub.org). I’m pleased that Elastic Girl is opening up the discussion on trafficking, and I hope that it will make people more compassionate and aware of the problem, both internationally and on a local level.

 

15% of profits from each book sold have been pledged towards the work of Child Rescue Nepal, a charity helping to rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking in Nepal.  http://www.childrescuenepal.org 

 

“Elastic Girl highlights the cruelties, indignities and injustice of child trafficking. An enlightening and gripping read.” Joanna Lumley.

 

Available now on Amazon.co.uk £7.99.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Elastic-Girl-Olivia-Rana-ebook/dp/B07777XP5Y

Volunteer’s Recruitment and Team Building Day

On Saturday morning we had our very first Volunteer’s Recruitment and Team Building Day. The morning began with a cuppa & a scone. Then Invisible Traffick’s video ‘No Hope’ was screened (watch it below).

Our director then spoke a little about how Invisible Traffick all started 7 years ago. She had been to a conference where Christine Caine (founder of anti-huamn trafficking charity, A21) was speaking about how girls had been packaged up into boxes like cargo and were transported across sea and in cars to their destination. On route many of the girls died from oxygen starvation and the girls who did survive were sexually exploited across Europe. Our director couldn’t believe that this was still happening in our modern day world. She came back from the conference and bought a packet of mash potato for dinner one evening which actually contained a ticket saying ‘You’e won!’. That packet of mash potato led to the director winning £500!! The Director explained how she knew the money was not her own and she used to to set up Invisible Traffick.

CINEMA VIEWING RAISES £405 FOR INVISIBLE TRAFFICK

Everlasting Piece

Last week one of our supporters held a fundraiser on behalf of Invisible Traffick.  She screened an Irish Comedy called An Everlasting Piece in an intimate private cinema in Helens Bay.  Twenty-five people came and a total £405 was raised from donations.  A few of the IT team attended & had a wonderful evening!  What a great idea for a fundraiser – could you host a similar evening? Get in touch!

GIVE AS YOU LIVE RAISES £250 FOR INVISIBLE TRAFFICK

W580 875275 Milestone Silver First
Give As You Live has enable 40 Invisible Traffick supporters to raise a total of £253.33 for Invisible Traffick FOR FREE!

The amount raised by our supporters is truly amazing, and we are so very thankful, this enables us to print more resource materials to distribute at our awareness campaigns. We need to heighten community awareness that Human Trafficking is really happening in our local communities in NI, Scotland, GB and Ireland. Thank you so so much.

If you shop online you can help us raise funds FOR FREE too. Follow this link to become a Give As You Live Invisible Traffick (Northern Ireland) supporter – https://workwithus.giveasyouli…

PUBLIC PROSECUTION SERVICE MARK ANTI-SLAVERY DAY

Pps3

The Public Prosecution Service hosted a round table event with criminal justice partners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and migrant representative groups on the subject of human trafficking and modern slavery at their Belfast headquarters on Friday, 20TH October.

The event marked Anti-Slavery Day which was on Wednesday, 18th October and formed part of a week-long series of events on the subject.

Representatives from the PPS’s Serious Crime Unit joined officials from the Home Office and the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit to update delegates on a series of cases and policy initiatives.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, opened the event which was attended by a range of organisations and agencies including the Department of Justice, Invisible Traffick, Migrant Help, Flourish NI and Women’s Aid.

Mr McGrory said: “The trafficking of human beings is a heinous crime which demeans the value of human life. The exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children by predatory criminal groups is something that no civilised country should tolerate. It creates victims who are often some of the most vulnerable members of society. Separated from family and friends with no access to financial help or support, perhaps unable to speak English or communicate with those who may be able to help them.

“I can assure you that we adopt a robust and consistent approach to the prosecution of such cases and will continue to work robustly with others here and in other jurisdictions to make our community a hostile place for traffickers, organised criminals and those who exploit the vulnerable.”

Specialist prosecutors from the PPS’s Serious Crime Unit updated delegates on recent trends and statistics around human trafficking and on the Director’s commitments to tackling modern slavery and human trafficking, which he signed along with the DPP of England and Wales, and Scotland’s Lord Advocate in February 2016.

Both the PPS and PSNI highlighted the importance of interagency work in tackling human trafficking and modern slavery, and two case studies were presented and discussed. The event concluded with an informative question and answer session.

HALIFAX FOUNDATION PROVIDE FUNDING FACILITATING PRESENTATION OF VISI’S WORLD TO PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN NI

Halifax

Our IT NI Director and Visi’s World Education Pack Co-ordinator receiving a certificate from Halifax Foundation, for recieving funding to facilitate the presentation of Visi’s World to Primary Schools in NI.

INVISIBLE TRAFFICK DOES STRICTLY COME DANCING

Strictly Come Dancing Blog

It was ‘Strictly’ the best foot forward for Invisible Traffick at the beginning of April, with our very first ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ competition. It was an evening packed full of guys, girls, glitz and glamour at the Culloden Hotel, which was throughly enjoyed by everyone who attended. We would like to extend a massive thank you to our very own volunteer and dance enthusiast, Debi Vauls, who did a fantastic job of organising the event under the guidance of ‘Ballroom Blitz.’

Under the glitter ball, twelve couples bravely went head to head and toe to toe, to perform a variety of classic ballroom dances, ranging from the Samba to the Charleston, the Jive, Argentine Tango and the Cha Cha Cha, following ten weeks of intensive dance training. Debbie and Michelle from ‘Ballroom Blitz’ did a fantastic job of putting our couples through their paces in training and most would agree that these twelve have blossomed from amateur dancers with two left feet into semi-professional dancers! Of course, we need to congratulate our ‘Strictly’ champions and winners of the night, Marleta Bailey and Cathy-Ann Akbar! You both did a fantastic job and performed an amazing routine, well done to each of you!

Alongside our dancers, we had four fantastic judges, BBC radio presenter Gerry Kelly, Q Radio presenter Gareth Stewart along with Nanette McCoy and Gary Faulkner. Not to forget our brilliant hosts, TV presenters Paul Reilly and Sara Moore.

The event was a brilliant night, full of fun, laughter and competition. However, most importantly, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ raised a fantastic amount of money for Invisible Traffick, with the donations reaching a grand total of £12,524.70! We wish to extend a huge thank you to each and everyone of you who donated, supported and volunteered to assist with the running of this event, we couldn’t do what we do without you all! The money which was raised will go towards supporting Invisible Traffick’s Helpline for victims, which was recently launched in March.

DUBROVNIK HALF MARATHON

Half M ItAt the end of April, two of our amazing supporters, Andrea McCormick and Lisa Crawford ran in the Dubrovnik Half Marathon in Croatia. They both ran 13.1 miles as part of the David Hanna Fitness Team in aid of Invisible Traffick and raised an incredible £457.20. These girls deserve a massive round of applause, not only for completing the half marathon, but also for raising this fantastic amount of money; all of which will go towards the work of Invisible Traffick and our mission of eradicating human trafficking! Thank you to everyone who supported them and well done girls!

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