In our research, Free The Slaves (FTS) has observed communities formerly in ruins because of slavery and trafficking, stand up and begin to experience freedom. With freedom, exponential improvements in social and economic development along with women’s empowerment begin to occur. This phenomena is known as the freedom dividend and is experienced not only by those no longer enslaved, but by the entire community.
We know that the freedom dividend is real. But until now, there has been no quantitative documentation of it. Recognizing the importance and benefit of rigorous analysis and research, Free the Slaves, along with our partners in India, has started the process of trying to measure the freedom dividend.
We are piloting household surveys in seven communities in two Indian states where rates of slavery are high: Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Working with our local partners there, DDWS and MSEMVS, we are researching the economic and cultural gains achieved by anti-slavery programs.
Nearly 200 surveys have been completed. And on Saturday November 6th, 15 volunteers gave up their weekends to help Free the Slaves process all this information. It was a massive project.
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Volunteers spent their mornings learning about our project, and getting trained in the data entry process. Then, the rest of the day was occupied with work. It would take 80 to 90 hours for one person to enter all this data. Our volunteers completed the task in just six!
Several volunteers said they were touched by a clip we aired from the documentary ‘Triggering Hope’ (produced by Free the Slaves), which depicted debt bondage in Varanasi, India, and the work of FTS anti-slavery partner MSEMVS. One volunteer said:
“I watched the video and was shocked when I realized that I had input data from Mina Devi’s survey, who herself spoke in the video. Even if it wasn’t actually the same Mina, because I think that’s a pretty common name, the experience has still tremendously touched me and has made me realize how truly easy it is to make a positive difference—to be a change—in the world.”
Thanks to all the volunteers who made the data entry day a success and for making a positive difference for Free the Slaves, our partners in India, and lives of those who one day will be free.