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Abolitionists take on slavery – online

Changemakers.net hosts global competition for innovative solutions to human trafficking.

The emancipation network: Slavery survivors in Katmandu, Nepal, make handicrafts that are sold in the US to raise awareness of slavery.

Courtesy of The emancipation network

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How do you eliminate slavery and human trafficking? Modern abolitionists across the globe are tackling that question head on – and collaborating via the Internet on their efforts.

Through Changemakers.net, many have joined in a global competition to identify the most innovative antislavery programs and extend their impact.

More than 230 groups from 50 countries entered this summer's competition, titled "Ending Global Slavery: Everyday Heroes Leading the Way." Judges knowledgeable about slavery selected 15 finalists, and last week the online community voted for three winners.

"We're incredibly proud of our online community who stepped forward to collaborate, discuss, and draw out the most effective ideas in this issue regarding human dignity," said Charlie Brown, Changemaker's executivedirector, on announcing the winners Aug. 6.

An initiative of Ashoka, a global association of social entrepreneurs, Changemakers has run 20 competitions online to promote innovative solutions in areas such as water and sanitation, geotourism, ending corruption, and sports for a better world. All applications in a competition go up on the Web, where others can comment, learn from, and help refine the ideas and programs.

"We wondered if the topic of slavery would be so sensitive or taboo that it might endanger people doing the work," says Tito Llantada, director of competitions. "But many more applications came in than usual."

The three winning programs pioneer differing approaches to fighting the complex problem:

• Carpets for Communities, a Cambodian organization, carries out grass-roots interventions into child trafficking and labor, providing mothers with an income (rugmaking at home) so that their children can go to school instead. Children are often sold or forced into working so their families can survive.

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