Great news from our friend Maria Suarez in Los Angeles. She’s launching her own foundation to prevent child slavery in the U.S.
The Maria Suarez Foundation’s official launch celebration will be on Wednesday, October 22 at 6 p.m. at Burns Lounge, Fritz B. Burns Academic Center, Loyola Law School , 919 Albany St. , Los Angeles. RSVP here.
Maria’s own struggle to overcome slavery was featured in the FTS documentary Dreams Die Hard. She was sold for $200 at age 15. When her captor was murdered five years later, Maria was falsely blamed for the crime and imprisoned for more than two decades. For nearly 28 years, Maria was denied her freedom—first by an individual’s act of depravity, and then by a justice system lacking the knowledge and resources to identify her as a victim.
Since gaining her freedom in 2004, Maria has been working as an anti-slavery advocate, counselor, and public speaker. Maria and Jonathan Hong established the Maria Suarez Foundation (MSF) in 2013 to consolidate and support her efforts, and to work toward her vision of a world in which no child endures the trauma of slavery.
Her Youth Leadership Program is the cornerstone of MSF. It educates student leaders about the issue of modern-day slavery and empowers them to create projects and campaigns in their schools. Youth leaders receive theoretical anti-slavery training on a weekly basis by representative mentors from MSF. MSF mentors help discuss and equip the leaders with safe and practical ways to make a difference in their communities—both on and off campus. The Youth Leadership Program currently has 15 members and is operating in two high schools in the Los Angeles area.
Congratulations to Maria from all of us at FTS!