From Slavery to Freedom
Free the Slaves has interviewed slavery survivors around the globe to document the injustice, insecurity and indignity they’ve endured. Their narratives are powerful testimony to the need for urgent action to eradicate human trafficking and modern-day slavery worldwide.
Dodzi | Ghana
Orphaned as a baby, Dodzi was adopted by an impoverished local woman who trafficked her into fishing slavery on Lake Volta. She spent years as a labor and sexual slave. Today she is learning new skills to support her daughter in freedom. Read her story here.
Uncle Mamady | Senegal
Mamady Diamanka had traveled 500 miles to see slavery for himself, unaware that he would find a member of his own family trapped in a street begging gang. Without hesitation, he lifted his 12 year old nephew into his arms, away from danger, and helped return him to his parents. Read the story here.
Kukdaha Village | India
The mistreatment of residents from Kukdaha was typical of Indian “brick belt” slavery. You might think that once freed, they would never want to make bricks again. But these survivors decided to do in freedom what they did in slavery. Except this time, they’d get paid and use the earnings to build new lives in freedom. Read their story here.
Seema & Kamala | Nepal
Seema and Kamala sought jobs overseas—and were trafficked into slavery. They worked backbreaking hours for no pay and suffered dehumanizing abuse. Finally freed, these courageous women now help save others in Nepal from the same awful fate. Read Seema’s and Kamala’s stories here. See their video profile here.
Benita | Congo
Benita’s parents died when she was 13. Her older brother threatened to starve her or to send her out of the house if she couldn’t contribute to household expenses. One option was to find a husband. Instead, she went to the mines. Now, she’s free and teaching dressmaking skills to others so they don’t end up in slavery too. Read her story here.
Setsofia | Ghana
Modern slavery tears families apart. Setsofia’s bedridden mother sold him to traffickers in a desperate bid for money. He was trapped for five years. His sick mother died, but community outreach and pressure won him his freedom. He says, “It is an obvious dawn of a new day.” Read his story here.
Francis | Ghana
Francis’ father was a slavery collaborator. He sold many vulnerable children to traffickers, even his own son. For his crimes, Francis’ father was paid $10 a month. Trapped on Lake Volta, Francis was beaten and abused—he still has a scar on his chin. His mother saved him by taking a stand. Read his story here.
Sakdouri Village | India
It’s called the “brick belt” of India, a notorious region where debt bondage slavery is rampant and devastating. Enslaved villagers are threatened, degraded, shamed and sometimes beaten to death. It sounds like an impossible challenge for human rights activists. But it isn’t. The villagers of Sakdouri are proof. Read their story here.
Munnu | India
Imagine being denied the right to govern your own life. Imagine being beaten, stripped of your dignity, deprived food, water, shelter, money, and education. That’s the reality of modern-day slavery. A man named Munnu, a slavery survivor in Northern India, decided to take action to bring slaves into freedom. Read Munu’s story here.
Elias & Nerisvan | Brazil
Their living and working conditions were dangerous and dreadful. They endured frequent exposure to toxic chemicals. But now, the two are free. They’ve received critical medical care and thousands of dollars in compensation from the Brazilian cattle rancher who enslaved them. Read Elias and Nerisvan’s story here.
Roshan | India
Roshan Lal grew up in a family of slaves, in an Indian village where slavery is common custom. Here, bondage is pervasive, crippling and conventional. Generations of villagers toil under slavery’s brutal routine and know nothing else—until now. As a slavery survivor, Roshan works as a paralegal to help free others. Read Roshan’s story here.
Mabel | Ghana
On Lake Volta in Ghana, child slaves are forced to work day and night on dangerous and deadly fishing boats. Mabel was one of them, trafficked into slavery by her own impoverished family. Today she is free and getting an education. For the first time, she is safe to dream about her future. Read Mabel’s story here. See her video profile here.
The "Cookie Raid" Teens | India
In rural India it’s a familiar sad story. Children are taken or tricked; families are left frantic to help but powerless to act. The Cookie Raid boys were lured from their homes in rural India and trapped at a bakery in a faraway city. They were finally rescued thanks to the power of Free the Slaves community organizing. Read their story here.
Nartey | Ghana
Disability forced Nartey’s mother to traffic him into slavery. He lost all hope as a child slave in a fishing village on Lake Volta. Community education efforts brought his family back to freedom. His mother is learning sustainable skills—and he is back in school. Read his story here.
Richard | Ghana
Poverty and ignorance forced Richard’s grandmother to traffic him into slavery. He spent seven years as a child slave on Lake Volta. At her funeral he saw a chance to be free—and was courageous enough to take it. Read his story here.
Emmanuel | Ghana
Emmanuel was robbed of freedom and an education when his mother sold him into slavery. On one terrifying expedition, Emmanuel nearly drowned when an older slave threw him overboard and left him for dead. But he survived the horrors of slavery—now he is enrolled in school and dreams of a bright future. Read his story here.
More Survivor Stories
Many recipients of Free the Slaves Freedom Awards are slavery survivors who are now anti-slavery leaders. See their stories here.