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Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

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liberation

Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]

PostBALES

I feel a complete certainty about what’s very meaningful to me right now. One is my son, who’s 13, and the other is my work on contemporary slavery. Both give me enormous amounts of pleasure and meaning.

A lot of people think it must be discouraging and depressing to work against slavery, but I have to tell you that it’s not. There are currently 27 million people in slavery all over the world, but that’s the smallest percentage of global population that’s ever been in slavery in history. The money currently put into slavery by the global economy is the smallest percentage in history. Slavery is against the law in every country. There is a long line of abolitionists who have gone before us. We’re now standing at the end of the line, at a point in time when slavery can really be brought to an end.

My interest in abolishing slavery began as curiosity. When I first became aware of contemporary slavery I was a university professor of research methods, statistics, and sociology. I found it very hard to believe contemporary slavery existed. When I looked into it, all I found were anecdotes – no facts. And that led me to the next step, which changed my life.

I went out in the field to do research to understand what modern slavery was about. I began to see the brutality firsthand. I saw the desperation of the people in slavery and the damage it does to them and it broke my heart. It changed me to the point where I couldn’t stay in the classroom any longer. I felt a strong calling to use my skills as a researcher, a writer, and a teacher to help.

The transition to working directly for the abolition of slavery, though scary and often difficult, has been fulfilling and exciting ever since that first step. There are parts of what I do that aren’t my favorite parts, but I almost never feel that I want to do something else. I’m doing what I most enjoy doing.

Certainly, there are times when I need to take a break. Hanging out with my son, doing things together, provides an enormous relief for me. I also take my kayak out to a secluded river and look at trees and wild animals and birds for a while, empty my mind of the rest of the world, and find refreshment that way, too.

Calling and liberating go hand in hand for me. I was drawn to a calling I couldn’t say no to. And, in fact, that calling taking over control of my life has been the greatest liberation I’ve ever experienced.

- Kevin Bales

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