The Elkes Impact Awards were established in recognition of the tremendous work local advocate survivors and civil society organizations are doing in their communities. Local survivors and organizations too often do not receive widespread acknowledgment of their work, despite their efforts being central to the fight against slavery.
In 2020-2021, despite the challenges posed by factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, war, and growing inequality, among others, movement leaders tirelessly continued to be resilient in the fight against modern slavery at the local level. From Africa to Asia to Latin America, thousands of advocates and grassroots organizations fought to end modern slavery and make the world a freer place.
The Elkes Impact Awards were created to shine a light on efforts and the tangible impact survivors and local organizations are having. They are an opportunity for the global movement to take inspiration from the recipients as well as encourage them to continue their excellent work. The awards were named after Dan Elkes, a visionary leader who established the Freedom from Slavery Forum to bolster the grassroots anti-slavery movement. The Forum focuses on bringing together key actors to identify and implement practical solutions to eradicate slavery around the world.
Most Impactful Survivor Advocate Award
The winner of the Elkes Impact Award for Most Impactful Survivor Advocate is Grace Kalekye Mwangangi of Kenya. Grace was selected based on her incredible achievements and courageous efforts, as well as being an embodiment of using her experiences to aid others. Grace was brave enough to go undercover with the help of the BBC to reveal her traffickers and the sex trafficking ring in India that trafficked women and girls from different parts of Africa. Grace’s commitment to ending human trafficking in inspiring to all. Through this award, we recognize her strength, resilience, hard work, and achievements in eradicating modern slavery.
Most Impactful Community-based Organization Award
The winner of the Most Impactful Community-based Organization Award is the Survivor Network of Cameroon. The Survivor Network’s objectives include: rescuing enslaved individuals; sensitization campaigns against human trafficking and modern slavery; and, reintegrating survivors into their societies. The Survivor Network is involved in advocacy efforts, vocational training, and has started to give seed capital to survivors to start small businesses. The Survivor Network of Cameroon was selected for its passionate efforts in advocating against human trafficking and dedication to rehabilitating survivors of modern slavery. The Network truly put their community first and spared no effort in eradicating modern slavery. Through this award, we recognize their dedication, raise their organizational profile, and celebrate their grassroots impact.
This year’s recipients will receive their plaques and be celebrated by the movement during an awards ceremony at the Global Freedom from Slavery Forum. As winners of these prestigious awards, Grace and the Survivor Network will each receive a grant of U.S. $1,000 and access to skills-building opportunities to assist in their continued fight for freedom and justice. Additionally, they will be recognized as ambassadors for the anti-trafficking movement and the Freedom from Slavery Forum. Their voices, insights, and dedication to eradicating modern slavery will no doubt benefit the movement as a whole. We look forward to following their great work in the future.
Free the Slaves serves as the Freedom from Slavery Forum secretariat.
Brittany Hamzy is the Free the Slaves Program Officer, Policy, Advocacy and Movement Building