Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Yet, every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
Did you know that there are over 20 million people in slavery today? They are forced to work without pay, under threat of violence, and they’re unable to walk away. You can find them in brothels, factories, mines, farm fields, restaurants, construction sites and private homes. Many slaves have been tricked by traffickers who lure vulnerable people with false promises of good jobs or education. Some slaves are marched to work at gunpoint. Others are trapped by phony debts from unscrupulous moneylenders. Slavery is illegal everywhere, but it happens nearly everywhere.
One of the highlights of this term was the “Running to Stop the Traffick – 24 Hour Race”, founded by Chris Schrader, an LPC alumn, and Phillip Holmes (founder of Freedom Matters). It is an endurance event in which over 600 runners from 20 different local and international schools in Hong Kong competed this year, while raising funds and awareness to help fight human trafficking. The race started at 9:00am on November 23rd and was be run relay-style for a whole 24 hours around the beautiful Lugard Road on the Victoria Peak until the next morning. The charity supported, the U.K. based organization Freedom Matters, which helps rescue and rehabilitate children as young as 5 who have been sold into prostitution and modern-day slavery in Nepal.
Freedom Matters, as mentioned above, was started by Phillip Holmes, a British army lieutenant, who simply could not forget the dire conditions he observed on a trip to a Nepalese orphanage and rehabilitation center. After his beloved wife passed away Phillip decided to dramatically expand upon his commitment of funding one orphaned Nepalese student, to leading a holistic effort freeing hundreds of Nepalese Children trafficked into enslavement at horrific circuses, brothels and labour companies. In many cases, these children’s parents were promised education and jobs when in reality, they were submitting their kids to a life of enslavement. These children were often physically and sexually abused by their captors. In other cases, children had been kept in jails for years due to the debts of their impoverished parents. With a remarkably low budget, Freedom Matters has and continues to intelligently go through legal channels in Nepal and India to return enslaved children to their family when possible or otherwise to a rehabilitation centre the charity operates. Your contribution will work towards the expansion of these crusades to free victims of trafficking and rehabilitating them to lead a productive and sustainable lifestyle. As some recovered victims have nowhere to turn, Freedom Matters provides the adolescents with opportunities for employment or service. Many of the students for example learn Nepalese mosaic or craft making for profit, or win university scholarships and return to serve the charity with the skills they’ve acquired.
Equipped with tents, pullovers, food and drinks we hopped on a bus at 6:30 am that took us to the Victoria Peak. Most schools had already arrived and runners were already dressed in their sports gear. We set up the tent, then walked around to take a look at the location. Christopher Schrader had come all the way from the United States to give a passionate opening speech. Our first runners were Shuhei (Japan) and Gabe (New Zealand). Each school had one girl and one boy running at a time.
What at first seemed easy, turned out to be an incredible challenge for all runners. We were all amazed by their energy and determination, none of them gave up, not even when they got injured or had their noses bleeding. Our school’s Feel-Good-Squad, which I was a part of, was trying their best to keep our runners motivated. We even dressed up in crazy costumes. The moment an entire group of colorfully dressed people, Pikachus and dragons came running to the start line was unforgettable for everyone. The late night and early morning hours were the hardest. Exhausted runners were sleeping in the tents and everyone was trying to give the best while fighting the sleep.
Each of our LPC runner ran about 15 laps on average (one lap was 3.2 km!) and we came in fourth of all participating schools, with a total of 163 laps – 521.6 km! All schools together ran 11,219.2 km! I am incredibly proud.
We even made it in the news!
Watch this promotional video, featuring Horace (Hong Kong) and Lucy (UK)