Looking through some old postcards, I came across some I had bought at the Nelson Mandela Touch Gallery when I visited Sydney, Australia. There’s someone who has truly touched the world! You’re probably wandering what this could possibly have to do with human trafficking? You may have a point!
But I want to share this symbolic artwork with you because not only does it bear uncanny resemblance to our own STOP THE TRAFFIK symbols, but I believe it really reflects our message too. As the world descends on South Africa for the World cup, what better reflection on freedom than Nelson Mandela himself.
The first picture is an exact replica of Nelson Mandela’s “freedom key” of his cell on Robben Island; the second depicts his left handprint. If you look twice, you will notice it has been altered to reflect Africa in the centre of his palm. But it is the third image of the hands of child victims of AIDS that kind of got me thinking. It got me thinking about the thousands of African boys today who are trapped on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast (visit our Chocolate Campaign to find out more www.stopthetraffik.org/chocolate).
Nelson Mandela said in his book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’: “I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.”
I’d like you to take this message of Freedom and think of ways you might be taking someone’s freedom away from them without even KNOWING. The aim is not one of guilt, but one of empowerment. I want to get you all thinking about how you might be giving a helping hand to the traffickers allowing them to get away with what they do, however indirect and insignificant you think it is.
Let me start. When I eat a chocolate without traffik-free certification, I support companies that might buy cocoa from abusive farms on which children have been sold to work; their only compensation- a lost hope for a better life.
There are many opportunities that traffickers exploit which you and I are part of. Think of what those could be. It may be not noticing something suspiscious at an airport, in a hotel lobby, your favourite restaurant or at your local grocery store. It may be not knowing who your neighbour is. If we start by thinking about how we actually HELP THE TRAFFIK, we can begin to put our hands together to STOP THE TRAFFIK!
Maybe we need to start seeing ourselves as part of the trafficking chain and not just part of the solution; A living human rights legend also once said: “Freedom is INDIVISIBLE; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them; the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.”
Also, visit the Touch Gallery: www.touchofmandela.com/au
And put your own print on freedom with one of our projects here:
“…for with freedom comes responsibilities” (Nelson Mandela).