September 25th, 2013
11:29 AM ET

'Every Day in Cambodia'

Hollywood star and human rights activist Mira Sorvino joins CNN in Cambodia where sex trafficking is still rife and pedophiles staying in nice hotels want virgin girls.

Sorvino walks through a poverty-wracked town where some residents are known to have sold their children, and meets with the law enforcement team that wants to crack down on the trafficking gangs.

She is shown around by Don Brewster, a local activist who has dedicated his life to saving Cambodia's children.

Watch the trailer above for CNN's "Every Day in Cambodia."

Bras saving lives
February 12th, 2013
07:25 PM ET

Bras offer lifeline to rescued slaves

Editor’s note: Watch “Mozambique or Bust” on CNN International: Friday, February 15 at 1630 GMT, Saturday Feb. 16 at 1400 GMT and 2130 GMT, and repeats Sunday until Wednesday.

Denver, Colorado (CNN) – Tashina was trafficked for sex when she was 15-years-old. Ofelia, when she was 12.

Tashina finds it helpful to talk about it. “We lived in darkness,” she said. For Ofelia, talking about the past is too painful. She just winds up crying.

But both women smile broadly as they talk about their future. A future filled with promise and hope, thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger half a world away from their home in Mozambique.

Kimba Langas is a college-educated, stay-at-home mom in suburban Denver, Colorado. She says she grew up in a middle class family with loving parents, never wanting for anything.

“I am fortunate,” Langas said. “I was born at the right time, in the right country, under the right circumstances, so I've had many privileges as a woman growing up in the United States. I've had just about every opportunity I could want.”

Her life could not be more different from those of Tashina and Ofelia. And yet, today these three women are connected in a most unusual way. FULL POST

Bras saving lives
February 12th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

Oscar winner Mira Sorvino: We can all fight slavery

Editor’s Note: Mira Sorvino is an Oscar-winning actress and goodwill ambassador to combat human trafficking for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime which tackles human trafficking. She narrated CNN’s documentary “Mozambique or Bust” which first airs on CNN International on Friday at 1630 GMT and is repeated at various times through next week.

(CNN) - I am thrilled about the message from “Mozambique or Bust” - empowerment and hope, to both would-be abolitionists and those longing to escape a life of bondage.

This is the story of Kimba Langas and Pastor Dave, with no initial resources to speak of besides their ardent wish to help trafficking survivors, creating a non-profit that provides a way for girls rescued from sexual trafficking in Mozambique to build a sustainable livelihood for themselves.

It highlights the power of faith, ingenuity and the generosity of like-minded strangers who only needed to hear of the plan to pool their diverse resources and get involved. FULL POST

February 12th, 2013
07:14 PM ET

Mozambique or Bust: How you can help

Editor’s note: Watch “Mozambique or Bust” on CNN international Friday, February 15 at 1630 GMT, Saturday Feb. 16 at 1400GMT and 2130 GMT, and repeats Sunday through Wednesday.

There are several ways you can help the people featured in the CNN Freedom Project documentary, Mozambique or Bust, narrated by Mira Sorvino, an Oscar-winning actress and goodwill ambassador to combat human trafficking for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime which tackles human trafficking. She says everyone can play a part in the fight against human trafficking.

There's more information at Free the Girls about the program that provides donated bras for sex trafficking survivors. The organization currently supports women in Mozambique, but plans to start programs in four other countries later this year.

If you are interested in Mozambique specifically, you can reach out to Project Purpose.

You can also learn more about Truckers Against Trafficking, a group educating drivers about human trafficking. On the TAT website, there's also a training video that shows drivers how to recognize victims on the road.

And there's more about Mira Sorvino’s work for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the fight against human trafficking.

December 7th, 2012
12:14 AM ET

How one e-mail changed a little boy's life

Editor's note: "Operation Hope" will air on CNN International on Saturday, December 8 at 0900 GMT and 2000 GMT. It will also air Sunday, December 9 at 0200 GMT and 1000 GMT; and Monday, December 10 at 0300 GMT. Once it has aired you will be able to watch it in full on this page.

(CNN) – It was a short e-mail - a few simple lines. It appeared in my inbox on May 12, 2011. It had been forwarded several times until it found its way to me.

"I saw a story on CNN a few days ago and can't seem to get it out of my head," wrote American businessman Aram Kovach. "I want to somehow help this little boy."

Click here to find out how you can help

He was referring to a Freedom Project report that aired on CNN a few days earlier. The story, filed by Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner, was about a 7-year-old boy from Bangladesh who had been savagely attacked and mutilated by a gang that routinely kidnapped poor children and forced them into the streets of the capital, Dhaka, to beg for money, which they would then keep for themselves. FULL POST

November 8th, 2012
03:28 PM ET

Coming soon on CNN: Operation Hope

In May 2011, the CNN Freedom Project highlighted the story of a seven-year-old boy kidnapped off the streets of Bangladesh by a criminal gang that, according to authorities, snatched children, crippled them, and then forced them to beg.

When this young boy refused he was beaten, stabbed and mutilated. His injuries shocked everyone. But one CNN viewer was so outraged, he took a stand.

He offered to help the boy, and triggered a chain reaction of goodwill that spanned the globe – and changed the boy’s life.

In Operation Hope, CNN Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner charts the boy’s remarkable journey and the people who made it happen - complete strangers half a world away.

February 22nd, 2012
10:04 AM ET

Bras liberate women from sex slavery

By Lisa Cohen, CNN

Editor's Note: How can individuals help combat modern day slavery? Watch "Taking a Stand, Making a Difference".

Denver, Colorado - Staring down a mountain of bras in her basement, Kimba Langas knew things had gotten out of hand.

The stay-at-home-mom started collecting unwanted bras as a way to help women on the other side of the world. It started small through word of mouth, and then a Facebook page.

But the bras quickly overran her home in suburban Denver, Colorado. They were in her basement, in her garage, in her car. They were in bags, in boxes, in envelopes. Her husband, Jeff, tried to navigate his way around them, but it wasn't easy.

"He was constantly moving boxes out of his way to access his tools," Langas said. "Down in the basement is where he keeps his table saw and other large tools, so besides having to move boxes, he would suffer a scolding from me from getting sawdust all over the bras!"

And the neighbors were beginning to talk, too. "If the weather's nice I usually count and box up bras in my garage," Langas said. "The neighborhood boys who are always around playing in the cul-de-sac try to pretend they're not watching!"

Langas collects unwanted bras for a charity called "Free the Girls" which gives them to young women coming out of sex trafficking in Mozambique - not to wear, but to sell in used clothing markets where bras are a luxury item and command top dollar.

The girls can make three times the average wage, more than enough to support themselves and not be trafficked again.

Sitting in her living room packing boxes of bras with her four-year-old son, Wyatt, she reflects on how quickly the little project took off.

It was the pastor of her church who came up with the idea for "Free the Girls." He was planning on moving to Mozambique for missionary work, and called Langas to see if she would run the project with him. She thought it sounded like fun.

"One of the things that was so appealing to me for "Free the Girls," besides the catchy name, was donating bras," she said. "I had probably five or six bras in the back of my drawer. As women, you know, we buy a bra, don't try it on, get it home, wear it once, it doesn't fit. And it's one of those items where you'd like to donate it when you donate clothes to a charity, but you're not sure. Do we donate bras? What do we do with bras?"

Apparently, that sentiment resonated with women across the U.S.. Shortly after launching the Facebook page, the bras started coming. The response was much bigger than she expected.

"I remember in the beginning how excited I would get to pick up envelopes and small boxes, and wow, if a box had 50 or even 100 bras that was crazy," Langas said. "And all of us of sudden, you know, 800 bras, 1,000 bras, 1,250 bras.

"There was a drive in Arizona and the women collected 8,000 bras. There's a church in Tennessee that collected 3,000 bras. There's a group here in Denver that collected 1,250 bras. It's just one of those things that caught on and spread."

It spread so much that Langas had to rent a storage unit to hold them all. But now she has a big problem: How is she going to move 25,000 bras 10,000 miles (15,000 kilometers)?

A shipping container would cost $6,500; money she says she just doesn't have. When she hears about people traveling to Mozambique, she asks them to take an extra suitcase with them, filled with bras. But her goal is to raise enough money to ship all of them.

In the meantime, she is encouraged by the volunteers helping her and motivated by the young victims she is fighting for, happy to do her small part in the fight to end modern-day slavery.

"Eventually it is going to change," she says. "I know it is. And if it's not in my generation, I hope that my son gets to see major change and I hope, by the time he's out of college or maybe even my age, hopefully sooner, he will be like, "Slavery? What? Oh, I read about it in my textbook."

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Topics: How to Help • Solutions • Uncategorized