As we set our sights on 2023, it’s a great time to reflect on where we are and what that entails for our mission for the year ahead and beyond. Our CEO, Lucy McCray, shares her thoughts and goals with you in a statement here.
The last few years have stretched and strained us all in so many ways. From COVID to lockdowns to political unrest, environmental changes, and many others. Compassion fatigue and overwhelm at all the world is dealing with are real. But still, you, our community, continue to show up for those who are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.
We are just beginning to understand the long-term effects of the pandemic, especially for those who are already vulnerable. Last year, new global estimates of the prevalence of modern slavery were released. These estimates show that there are an estimated 50 million people living in conditions of modern slavery today. Roughly one in every 150 people globally. Concerningly, this is an increase of 10 million people in the last five years.
The long-term effects of COVID, namely, changes in economic conditions—decreased work, decreased wages, decreased sales of goods and services—have impacted the most vulnerable, who have no margin or savings to protect themselves in times of crisis. These people have been forced to take on more loans to make up for changes in income, have been forced to pull children out of school to decrease expenses, and have been forced to take risky jobs in order to make ends meet. This, combined with armed conflicts and climate change, has contributed to estimated increases in the prevalence of trafficking.
However, even with these dim outlooks, we find hope. You and our staff stand in the gap for these vulnerable children and their families. We continue to provide scholarships to those we have identified as at risk. We have continued to raise awareness of the ways trafficking is changing, and we have continued to come alongside the community to build supplemental sources of income, so that when economic shocks occur, they are not as devastating.
We are excited for the coming year and rising to meet the challenges of the moment.
Here are our goals for 2023.
- This year, we are building on our fifteen years of experience to begin sharing our proven child trafficking prevention model with other organizations. After decades of focus on rescue and aftercare, the anti-trafficking movement is finally recognizing the importance of prevention. We want to share our model with others to help accelerate their success, and, ultimately, for more children to be protected and have bright futures ahead.
- We aim to continue to use research, data, and management as the foundation of our prevention programming.
- As the world continues to re-open, we want to reconnect with our incredible community—folks like you, other NGOs, government agencies, and of course, the students and families we serve. You make our work possible, and together we are breaking the cycle of trafficking at the source. I look forward to getting to know you all even better.
- Our final goal: to continue to be an outstanding employer for our staff. You cannot care for others unless you care for yourself first. We continue to commit to paying well, providing ample time to rest, and providing other benefits that allow staff to decompress, destress, and practice self-care.
We cannot do this work without you. Whether you have just joined us, or have been with us for the last fifteen years, we are so thankful to you. To those who are on our board, are part of our support community, our volunteers and advocates, and our staff, we thank you. We cannot do this work alone, and we are so honored to have such an incredible community of people with us in this fight. We are excited about all 2023 has to bring and are thankful we get to do it together.