In December, CNN visited a school for escaped slaves and their children in Mauritania, a West African country that was the last in the world to abolish slavery, and where an estimated 10% to 20% of people are still enslaved.
There, in a small, concrete building surrounded by dusty streets, 30 women who escaped slavery are learning new skills - sewing, cooking, hair braiding - that they plan to use to start small businesses.
iReport wants to show these women that the world supports them in their fight for freedom. What can you do? It's simple:
Share your message of hope and include the phrase "Nahana maakum," which means "We are with you" in Hassaniya, the language these women speak.
A selection of your video messages of hope will be shown in the school, and they may also appear on CNN. (Check out some of the submissions we've received so far in the compilation video above.)
[Update] Here are some of the submissions so far, coming from all around the world:
Hossain Riazati and his wife hold a Baha'i devotional gathering once a month at their home in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, for friends and neighbors of different races, religions and backgrounds. On Sunday, the group recorded a message of hope for the former slaves in Mauritania (“Nahana maakum, we are with you.”) He read the CNN piece about slavery in Mauritania on Sunday and was happy to see the Monday piece on “how you can help.” He says, “We all can take a part according to our capacity and resources in making a difference toward betterment of the world.”
Twin sisters Laura and Anna Green are seniors at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Laura is studying social work and her sister is majoring in justice and peace. “I've often wondered how, in life's gambling game, I ended up with a privileged life while others have to suffer on a daily basis,” she says. “If we want to make any changes in our world, we have to take action. We have to advocate for those who have no voice.”
Rummel Pinera, a salesman in the Philippines, also recorded a message. He says he was shocked to learn that “slavery is still quite a big institution in Mauritania.”
Xavier Stone, a student at the University of Miami in Florida, was moved by the story of slavery in Mauritania and wanted to do “whatever I could to make a difference.” French is not his native language but he felt it better conveyed his message. The English translation is: “You are not alone. You are not lost. If you want freedom, we are with you. I am with you. Nahana Maakum.”