Editor’s note: Editor’s note: High school student Aditi Sinha was inspired to become an anti-slavery activist after attending Free the Slaves’ annual Freedom Awards show in 2008. With her friends and family, she recently put on a benefit show to raise money for FTS—which brought in over one thousand dollars! Thank you Aditi, Isha, Janani, Varshini and all your supporters for your amazing work!”
To “Be the change you wish to see in the world” one needs to start on one’s own without waiting to garner support. My association with Free the Slaves and many of its activists inspired me to take small steps on my own to wipe out the menace of slavery from the face of the earth. I am a “high school student” and my avenues are limited, but I have still pined to bring about a change in the world in my own small ways. Free the Slaves has taught me that no contribution is small and each of us can contribute in our own way to make the world a better place to live. I definitely wish to be “the change” and do all in my capacity to make the world a better place.
Over the past three years, Free the Slaves has become a huge part of my life. I first learned about the organization from Supriya Awasthi, South Asia Director of this organization during my visit to India in 2008. I was completely shocked that slavery still existed and that there are more than 27 million slaves in our world today. Supriya told me all about Free the Slaves, its mission, and its fight against the inhumane practice of slavery. Upon my return home, I attended the Freedom Awards, met many activists and witnessed all that was being done so selflessly to free the millions of slaves all over the world. I met Judy Hyde and Gwendolyn Oliver, who have ever since been guiding me about how I could get more involved with the organization.
Since my involvement with Free the Slaves began, I had raised friends for the cause, distributed literature, directed people to the Free the Slaves website, and started a chapter of Free the Slaves at my school. Now, I wanted to do something more, something that would have a greater impact, and something that would get all like-minded people together to work towards a cause. Last October, I began to think about organizing a fundraiser to raise more awareness about slavery and funds to help the organization. With the help and encouragement of my parents and my close friend, Isha Parol, I was able to turn this idea into reality. I discussed my plans with Gwendolyn and she offered me all her support. Later on, Janani Ravikumar and Varshini expressed their willingness and enthusiasm to work for the cause. I designed several flyers, distributed them to my teachers, classmates, and friends, thereby spreading word about slavery. So did my friends! Some local businesses were glad to support Free the Slaves with a donation. They also allowed us to leave our flyers with them for more publicity. At the outset, we were three friends who decided to perform for the audience, but with passage of time many others came forth, willing to donate their talents. Friends from my school were more than willing to help support the cause by agreeing to perform at a short notice. At the last minute, a lot of my classmates pitched in and offered to help set up, run tech, sell tickets, and do much more! It was overwhelming to see how so many of them stood up for the cause despite their busy schedules! We would have had a greater turnout had it not been Spring Break and a Friday!
Free the Slaves activists; Gwendolyn, Tawney, and Anne drove down all the way from Los Angeles to show their unwavering support and to speak to the attendees about the evil practice of slavery. Everyone was deeply touched by their simplicity and their passion for the cause. All this while, my parents and the parents of my friends unrelentingly worked behind the scenes as if promising that we would have their support like this whenever we did something worthwhile. By the end of the day we had raised about 1200 dollars! All my teachers, friends, family, and acquaintances stood in solidarity to support me in doing something that I had been so fervently wanting to do. Now we are a team and I know, when the next time we all plan a fundraiser together for Free the Slaves, it will be a much more successful endeavor!
Photo courtesy of Aditi Sinha