It's the time of year when it's customary to look back and reflect. What do I see?
If I limit my gaze to the Cuatro Corridos project, I see our premiere seven months ago in San Diego and successful performances before large audiences in Tijuana and Dallas since then. I remain grateful to our funders, the members of the creative team and my colleagues, all of whom contributed so much to bringing this opera to life.
I also see our collaborations with extraordinary organizations and great people doing the difficult, daily work of helping victims of human trafficking. It's been an incredible journey.
When I look at the larger issue of human trafficking, this is what I see:
- There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
- According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70 percent are female and half are children.
- The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims.
- Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking.)It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year.
- Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
- Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90*
That's the bigger, tougher picture.
Before Cuatro Corridos, my awareness of the extent of modern day slavery was practically nil. I imagined it occurring rarely and in remote locations. Now, I know differently.
There are so many organizations doing tremendous grassroots work who could use our support: the Cuatro Corridos forum participants in San Diego (Legal Aid Foundation), Tijuana (International Network of Hearts) and Dallas (Mosaic Family Services) are just some. The international organization Polaris Project has a website full of information and is making a difference on a global scale.
One of the most popular posts on social media sites recently has been a New York Times article on the value of the "selfie" - you gaze at yourself on a four inch screen, take a photo and shares it with the world.
In 2014, I think I'll try to keep looking out at the bigger, tougher picture and inviting others to do the same.
If you can see it, you can change it.
- Susan Narucki
*Statistics from CNN's Freedom Project and DoSomething.org.
Images Journey Emma Thompson and the Helen Bamber Foundation