I just returned from 10 days in Russia meeting with the young people who've been testing the Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking. It was a great trip and the feedback they gave me was invaluable.
Russia has one of the highest rates of child trafficking in the world, so it was a strategic place to test B2F. Russian orphans are particularly at-risk because once they leave the orphanages at age 16, they have nowhere to go, no job, no money, no contacts, not even a place to stay that night.
Traffickers are waiting to befriend them and lure them into the highly lucrative sex trafficking industry. It's a multi-billion industry so you can imagine the fight for these kids.
Our goal at Born2Fly has always been to cut off the supply line of kids -- to reach kids before the traffickers do.
Thankfully a group of young adults in Russia is making sure that happens. They are the interns, staff, and young people who've been part of the B2F test program at youth centers in 3 cities throughout Russia.
Former orphans protecting orphans
The interns who taught B2F are former orphans themselves. They were passionate about B2F and took their role in the test program very seriously. We spent hours meeting with them, listening to their feedback and ideas, and hopefully encouraging them.
The information they shared was priceless. I never could have done this simply by email so I'm very grateful to the many partners of B2F who helped send me to Russia to meet with these young people in person.
Where do we go from here?
This past Wednesday was the final day of the test in Russia -- and our year-long 5-country test phase is now officially over. (Woo hoo!)
Based on feedback from Russia, Thailand, Bulgaria, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic, here is B2F's upcoming agenda:
Next 60 days:
1. Produce finalized versions of B2F wordless book and kids curriculum based on feedback from 5 test countries.
2. Translate B2F kids curriculum into more languages (currently in English, Spanish, Russian, and one of the languages of the Philippines).
3. Begin distributing these materials (digitally and in print) to groups all over the world who've been patiently waiting for them.
4. Develop the "Dream Big Campaign," an anti-trafficking program specifically for teens and young people including Powerpoint customized for different countries. This was the recommendation of the interns in Russia.
5. Distribute via YouTube, websites, etc.
6. Create B2F and "Dream Big" apps and other digital material. Some of these will be country-specific.
7. Work with tablet developers and manufacturers to create a B2F "One Tablet Per Child" program (similar to the One Laptop Per Child program) with low-cost tablets pre-loaded with B2F and "Dream Big" anti-trafficking materials for kids, teens, and young adults. (If you're a tablet developer/manufacturer and want to partner with us, please email me.)
As we say in the south, I have a "full plate." I'm very excited about this focused direction for B2F's future.
Thank you for partnering with B2F to make it all happen. Together we will accomplish our goal of reaching kids before the traffickers do.