By Megan Kelly

Education + Human Trafficking

Recent headlines about alleged sex trafficking in Florida bring to the forefront one of the reasons that Tailored for Education’s work is so important. Explaining why children need uniforms and the importance of access to education is the easy part of our job. Explaining what could happen to these children if they do not attend school is the hard part. The exploitation of children, including child labor and human trafficking, is a dark subject which frankly, is unfathomable. It’s one of the largest issues facing humanity today, yet not one we see in daily headlines. World’s Children estimates that there are more slaves in the world than the population of London, New York, and Los Angeles combined. That’s over 20 million people.

Furthermore, UNICEF estimates that 28% of trafficking victims are children and reports that “Children who are poor, have minimal education, lack vocational skills or have few prospects for job opportunities are most at risk of being trafficked.” In many cases, children fall victim to human trafficking when they are falsely offered the promise of an education and a better life. Tailored for Education’s partner organizations in Haiti tell us about restaveks­­—children sent by their parents to live in domestic servitude when the parent is unable to provide basic needs. In desperation, the parents believe they are creating an opportunity for the child. Unfortunately, these children are often treated poorly, never receive the promised education, and instead become victims of sexual and physical abuse. The reality is that the restavek system is modern slavery and human trafficking.

When we visited partners in Kenya, children there told us they are more likely to be kidnapped if they do not have a school uniform. A child in a uniform is a statement; a uniform signifies to the community that the child is accountable to be somewhere. We know that providing children with school uniforms is no panacea to end human trafficking. However, we strongly believe that providing required school uniforms will ensure that children have a place to be­—mitigating an alternative desperate decision or sacrifice in an attempt to receive an education. Furthermore, we believe providing opportunities for children and women to pursue education and seek gainful employment could disrupt the trafficking supply chain.

Since 2014, Tailored for Education has partnered with Horizons Vocational Training Institute in Cambodia to provide uniforms to 45 young women. Horizons empowers female survivors of trafficking and sexual abuse by providing access to education, quality skills, and dignified employment so these young women can contribute to their families and communities. Horizons women live in a house together where they catch up on the education they missed, usually 7-9 grades. They receive medical, social, and emotional support as they work towards a brighter future.

Upon completion of the 9th grade, Horizons women qualify to attend Hotel School. After two years of training they have an internship and then job placement in Cambodia’s tourism/hotel sector.

A snapshot from Horizons success in 2018: 16 girls (100%) passed the grade 9 exam, 22 girls held internships, and 8 girls secured jobs in 4 and 5 star hotels. Tailored for Education is so proud for our part in helping empower these survivors who are now thriving!

Call to action: If the news about day spas in Florida upsets you, and you’ve read this blog and find yourself cringing at the content, do something! Help us expand our work with organizations like Horizons who strive to keep women and children safe from kidnappers and traffickers. Tailored for Education believes access to education is the best path to prevent such atrocities. Together we can provide uniforms to impoverished children around the world and make school their only option!