human trafficking

SIGEF Project Awards winner talks about her action in Latin America

El Pozo de Vida, the SIGEF Awards winner of 2016
El Pozo de Vida, the SIGEF Awards winner of 2016

This year’s edition of SIGEF focused on innovative solutions for a better future in various fields such as social entrepreneurship, technology, climate, environment and sustainability. In this perspective, SIGEF hosted exceptional speakers, innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists all along the conference to defend their ideas and make a positive change in the world.

As every year, a SIGEF project awards ceremony was organized to celebrate the best participating projects that contribute to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and promote social good around the world. This year, 20 projects were presented to a jury of international experts and specialists in different fields. The winner of this year’s competition was “El Pozo de Vida A.C.”, an organization that grapples with human trafficking and sexual exploitation through innovative prevention strategies, integral support to victims, empowerment, healing and opportunities for girls and women coming out of the sex industry.

“We work against human trafficking, not just child trafficking but also adult human trafficking because we believe in freedom for everyone.” says Kathleen Gately de Delgado. Kathleen is a young passionate woman, who came all the way from Mexico to Marrakech to represent her organization and share her interest with the rest of the world. “El Pozo de Vida” is operating mainly in Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil. It started six years ago by building a safe home for underage trafficking survivors. Later, the team opened a transition home for girls over 18. Today, “El Pozo de Vida” is operating in two more employment programs. One for women who are 23 to 52 years old working in the red light district, and another for migrants in immigration centers. “In these programs we use development, education, vocational training, psychological and medical care to reach to and help them heal from human trafficking“, says Kathleen.

El Pozo de Vida’s team focuses on prevention of human trafficking on a large scale for better efficiency. First, their concept was about sharing human trafficking victim’s stories on DVDs; but they soon realized that DVDs were outdated and that people were now using smartphones. Thus the virtual reality simulators. They called this prevention program “Awake”. It’s already been launched in Mexico with five five female victims from different places in the world telling their upsetting stories. “The reason trafficking happens is because people dehumanize another person. But, when you hear their voices, when you see them face to face, you connect with them and no longer see them as a statistic, but as a real person”, explains Kathleen.

Also, through virtual reality, the viewer gets closer to the portrayed person. “Hearing and knowing that these are their words, this is what they wanted to say, and these are the questions they have for the world. There is something that touches your heart”, she adds. And these virtual reality simulators did make real change; in schools, for example, children and parents now have a better understanding of the dangers of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. “When we show the program, for example, they don’t get to go right away to the happy ending, because the idea is to talk about what trafficking is and what’s happens after. The story in the middle until the final end gets someone to say: I want to make a difference”. The idea is to screen it in schools and stimulate students to “make a difference” just with small gestures, like sharing on social media and starting to see the dangers.

Kathleen cried when receiving the SIGEF2016 award for best project. On this matter, she expressed gratitude to Horyou and enthusiasm to do more for her organization in the future.

Written by Ghada Jalal

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