Three years ago, a small group of friends were gathering on the South Coast of England to talk about human trafficking and what they could do to play a part in combatting it. A year later, Escape magazine was launched in the capital city of Moldova to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and heads of education. A Member of Parliament spoke on what a significant contribution the magazine would make. This is why I am a firm believer in the contribution small groups of people can make in addressing this issue.
If I take a step back and consider some of my personal motivations for getting involved, Stella Rotaru’s work comes immediately to mind. Stella has worked for several years with the International Organisation for Migration in Moldova as their Repatriation Specialist. I originally learned of Stella by stumbling across an article about her work in the New Yorker. This article really did a job on me. I was so incensed by the capacity of traffickers to deceive and the regularity with which they changed their strategy while we, as NGOs, sat in a consultation, thinking up a response that may take another year to deliver. I was desperate to see a resource in place that would keep step with traffickers and continue informing the countries’ young people about how they might be recruited.
I remember meeting our partners in Moldova for the first time and asking if they had heard of Stella. I was pleased to hear that they knew her and would arrange a coffee meeting with her. I was so full of excitement in meeting her; the anticipation had built because I realised that in Stella I had a Heroine, someone to aspire to be like. Unlike many of today’s celebrities, I was going to meet and later get to know someone whose life and efforts were worthy of being celebrated. We abolitionists need role models just like everybody else.
Photograph by Bela Doka, www.newyorker.com
Stella and the team at IOM have advised on content for Escape and continue to participate in its distribution. Stella shared these thoughts about the magazine:
“I remember the first time I was given a copy of Escape magazine. Although my work wasn't focused on youth prevention, I knew this was an area that needed attention. Everyday we are bombarded by content – from online advertisements to print ads in magazines. A major challenge we face in preventing human trafficking is cutting through that clutter, getting out our messages of hope. And what I noticed about Escape was that by combining pop–culture with social issues, this magazine had a real opportunity to reach the youth of Moldova. It's bringing much needed issues to light and opening avenues for the youth of Moldova to discuss topics from relationships to human trafficking. The youth are the future of Moldova and it's vital that they are reached in a way that is appealing to them. And by supporting the work of Love 146 in Moldova, you are supporting an organization that is working to empower Moldova's future leaders.”
I wanted to give you the opportunity to meet Stella and hear about the work of IOM in Moldova by watching this short film from Witness Al Jazeera. The film mentions government camps for at-risk youth to which the Escape Moldova team have been invited in order to distribute Escape magazine. This enables the team to input trafficking prevention content into the camps nationally. We would value your help in increasing our circulation and capacity. Please visit the Europe Prevention page and choosing your appropriate currency.
European Operations Director