A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Derek Ellerman- The Polaris Project

When Derek Ellerman was studying at university, he read a newspaper article about a group of Korean women who had been trafficked into the USA and were living just a few streets away. There was little reaction to the news externally, but within it sparked a sense of questioning about why little was being done to help these women. He bumped into a neighbour in his building one day, Katherine Chon, and they started to discuss the issue. Realising they didn’t know all they did some research and discovered that sex and labour trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world, and it is not just confined to developing countries.

Their questioning led them to set up the Polaris Project, a community of individuals from policy planners to grassroots activists committed to combating the problem. They run support centre for survivors and work in advocacy roles- a combination unusually rare in the sector. Across college campuses they also host a ‘Slavery Still Exists’ Campaign, raising awareness of the issues on home turf.

To Derek it is as much about shelters as it is laws, where working at both end of the spectrum; intervention and prevention are crucial to success. There is a long way to go yet, but thanks to the Polaris Project, it is getting a bit closer.



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