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.

That Kimba and Dave's brainchild of such an unlikely product, donated bras, could turn into a humanitarian gold mine in resale at the used clothing markets of Mozambique, proves anyone can make a difference with their heart, hands and mind in the fight against modern day slavery.

And the success the survivors enjoy selling the bras with the support of their NGO sends a signal to those still in slavery that if they can manage to get away, or accept others’ offers to help them escape, a dignified and self-empowering future is possible.

There is no reason that any of us should throw up our hands in despair at the overwhelming sadness of the plight of up to 30 million people living in bondage in the world today, thinking there is nothing we can do.  There is everything we can do.  It just requires passion, an assessment of our own personal skill set and some imagination.

U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 Global Trafficking Report

There is enormous goodwill out there, just waiting to be partnered with a good plan and this film is the proof. When Kimba realized she had no money to send the thousands of donated bras to Mozambique, the owner of a shipping company heard about it via CNN.  Lo and behold, the transatlantic leg of the delivery was supplied.

Then Truckers Against Trafficking volunteered with driving.  Every step of the way, those impassioned to help found their own, incredibly powerful way of doing so.

Pastor Dave started the wave with his decision to move his family to Mozambique to help girls escaping from sexual trafficking and each person afterwards caught it, amplifying the energy and effects of this initial wish to be of service.

After all, isn’t that what we are all here on the planet to do, to help others, to leave this world a better place than we found it?  Don’t we need to bequeath to our children a planet in which no one person is permitted to viciously exploit another in the name of profit, where all people are free to create their own destiny, and do their own good in turn?

Pastor Dave and Kimba thought so, and so do I.  They are proof that this dream of abolitionism is just one step away from reality and that step is everyone’s to take.

I was very honored to contribute to this Freedom Project Documentary. I admire its vital and in some cases life-changing reporting.  The light shown on the most grievous issues in the blight of modern day slavery, and the active solutions that succeed in fighting them, have done an incredible service to victims and survivors worldwide.

Studies have shown that wherever media attention is brought to human trafficking, the number of discoveries and rescues of victims, and arrests, indictments and convictions of traffickers rises significantly. The unflinching gaze on governments or individuals whose actions or inactions are allowing slavery to thrive have helped goad them to better their ways.

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Goodwill Ambassador to combat Human Trafficking, I have spent much of the past four years engaging with all aspects of the fight against human trafficking.  I have interviewed scores of people whose lives have intersected with modern day slavery, and my heart has been broken and then put back together by meeting the incredibly brave and altruistic survivors of this hideous crime.

I have become a victims’ and survivors’ advocate both globally and at home in the U.S. and am not content with simple awareness-raising; I always try to spur people on to actions that truly help stop trafficking in its tracks.

See how you could help

soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Max

    Go, Go, Nina Sorvino, and all the fighters for ending slavery. I love your assessments, and advice. I've decided to join in with this ( these?) project (s). Just gota get organized, and prioritised – – and – – activated. This is a start.

    February 13, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
  2. Max

    Well, I feel thaer's more for me to say here. As you say, NS, there is a lot of goodwill out there, LIKE MINE. So NOW after this artical I am already thinking of ways to find a „good idea to partner with“. Thanks. Let's hope my PASSION steps up to the needs of all this ….

    February 13, 2013 at 10:52 am | Reply
  3. Rasheed

    Call me a DOG right now, but I'll still say anyway that this is a TERRIBLE idea. How can you screen all "donors" as to their honesty and sincerety. Someone who's been listening to US right-wing talk radio might use the opportunity to send bras tainted with who knows what?

    The last time it was Smallpox. Would it be Ebola this time, or Anthrax?

    May NEVER happen, but you NEVER know!

    February 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • B ob Pribyl

      Come on Rach! Do you subscribe to X files?

      February 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  4. JohnnyNoname

    I am not sure why the U.S. needs to fight slavery at all. Our Founding Fathers thought that slavery was just fine... as long as it wasn't them being enslaved. Since our Founding Fathers are seen as God-like and infallible, it is logical to conclude that slavery is fine.

    February 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  5. themalaysianman

    You can't . People love slavery. If we want to end slavery , we must get to the root cause for it. And that is the hardest of all because people love it. Its called cheap labors and maximum profit . Its from the hearts of man. Its greed and lust that becomes wicked.
    People love cheap buys and the producers had to find cheap labors. Its a chain reaction. If all the people would accept enough as needed for self , then slavery will ceased to exit. It had to start with the rich down to the poor. For the earth had surplus for all. Can human accept this? If not slavery will continues and the talks are just like all the talks about peace. Its a dream that will never happen but the curse of humanity. All because of evil and wickedness in the hearts of man.

    February 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  6. Meng Xing

    The freedom is the only things what we need 。

    February 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  7. A Ridiculous idea!!

    Am I missing something here? USED under garments being shipped to "Africa". Has anyone considered the hygiene issues? What next used panties to be shipped? Would Americans or any one else appreciate USED undergarments being shipped to their daughters? I think not.

    This is a ridiculous idea. If you want to aid people set up a fund in country or buy the NEW Bras in country. For the record new Chinese, European and South African manufactured bras are readily available for purchase in Maputo, Mozambique.

    I also don't understand what is so difficult about shipping to Mozambique. I would first suggest the shippers stop thinking of Africa as a country-That would immediately improve their search for shipping options. They would soon realize they have many choices to ship to Mozambique. South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways to name a few all ship to Mozambique from the USA.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • Rivka

      I think it is safe to assume that they wash the bras first.

      February 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  8. Teri

    I know the founder of Project Purpose, the woman helping the girls who've been rescued. Unless you've been traded or sold, you have no idea the awfulness of slavery. These bras are washed, just as tee-shirts, shorts, or any other garments are washed. Maybe you find that wearing used clothing is beneath you, but I find myself shopping in resale stores for much of my wardrobe. How is that any different than these girls selling pre-owned clean bras? I find this piece inspiring. As to shipping, it's expensive.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  9. Foong Haw

    As a curious reader, how do these bras actually help these unfortunate women.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • Rivka

      Read the whole article.

      February 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  10. rexedie

    i admire Mira's dedication.... she did a movie a few yeas back ...about human trafficking .... she played an FBI agent. looks like she's carrying on with the task. Good on her.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  11. Joel aquino

    I liked ,very good , sorry i ,dont speak ingles congratuletion mira,oscar wonderfull

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  14. Todd

    I agree wholeheartedly with any efforts to stop child trafficking and admire celebrities who take a stance. However, I have a real problem with CNN's editing of the commercials for this program, in which Mira is seen outside the door of some hovel in Cambodia pronouncing to the inhabitants, "it is NOT OK to sell is NOT OK" It portrays her as oblivious to the fact that those people ALREADY KNOW THAT. These people act out of desperation and do not need pronouncements from Hollywood royalty about the rightness or wrongness of their actions. Solve the desperation and you will solve the problem. You will not solve it by sending the parents on a guilt trip. I am not acquainted with Mira's qualifications outside of her celebrity status, and she may indeed be as clueless as these commercials make her look, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to short-sighted editing.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Reply
    • rianlivingston

      Agreed Todd, this commercial is playing non-stop (or at least every 10 min where I am) and I can't help but think how odd this is – or at least seems. It appears as if she's just walking by someones home and family and pronouncing, "it's not OK to sell children – it's not OK.". Putting myself in a similar situation I think I would be livid (and probably violent) if a foreigner came walking up to myself and family pronouncing the same. Perhaps it is taken out of context in the commercial, but it really makes her and the situation seem foolhardy, arrogant, and ignorant.

      December 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
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