What determines a child's worth? Where they were born or the income they produce? Today, the average cost of a child slave is $90.
What does $90 buy nowadays -- an iPod shuffle, a nice dinner out or a sweater, perhaps? As we near the holidays and contemplate gift giving, giving thanks and spending time with those dear to us, it's important not to forget children around the world who are nothing but a dollar value to some.
#GivingTuesday is a new national day focused on getting individuals, businesses and organizations to support charities and make a commitment to give. Similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday hopes to bring about a new tradition this holiday season -- not of buying, but instead seeing the value in giving.
At the Global Fund for Children (GFC), we are proud to be a part of this new tradition. As the Financial Times' seasonal appeal winner, we will be raising funds on #GivingTuesday that will directly benefit grassroots organizations helping to improve the lives of children living in unfathomable circumstances.
In October, along with Financial Times journalist Orla Ryan, GFC visited several of our partners in Senegal, Ghana and Haiti who have dedicated their lives to rescuing, protecting and educating children. In developing regions that face extreme poverty, children are subject to a life with limited educational opportunities and many are unknowingly sold into slavery by parents who are unable to provide for them.
According to the 2012 Trafficking Persons Report, Latin America has an estimated 1.8 million people in forced labor. Guatemala is one such country where children are highly vulnerable to labor exploitation. Our partner, Asociación El Refugio de la Ninez, a community-based organization in Guatemala City, ensures that at-risk youth who have been victims of trafficking, physical abuse or sexual exploitation receive comprehensive psychological and emotional support, transitional housing and legal services to help them safely and securely reintegrate with their families and continue their education.
In Eurasia, there are roughly 1,600,000 people in forced labor. Our partner Atina in Belgrade, Serbia provides direct assistance to women and children who are victims of labor exploitation and sex trafficking, with the aim of helping them overcome their trauma and gain the confidence to successfully reenter community life.
These are just a couple of examples of the grassroots organizations GFC supports who are on the ground reaching the world's most vulnerable children. We do all we can to let kids to be kids -- no matter what their circumstances -- and since 1997 we have awarded $25 million in grants to more than 500 organizations in 78 countries, touching the lives of 8 million children worldwide.
On #GivingTuesday, will you commit to give and help us make it possible to transform the lives of the next million children? Visit us at www.globalfundforchildren.org and read a special series about our work in the Financial Times beginning November 26, 2012 through January 31, 2013.
Kristin Lindsey is the CEO of The Global Fund for Children in Washington, D.C.
The Global Fund for Children (GFC) finds and invests in innovative, community-based organizations working with some of the world's most vulnerable children. Since 1997, GFC has invested $25 million in over 500 grassroots organizations in 78 countries, serving over 8 million children.
Follow The Global Fund for Children on Twitter: @GFCnews.