PEOPLE FOR CHILDREN: A Vision to Stop Child Trafficking

Bibiana Ferraiuoli, Executive Director, The Ricky Martin Foundation

The right of just being a child is under constant threat of disappearing in many parts of the world. Social and economic forces beyond their control are jeopardizing their dignity. These are tragic losses. They represent a loss of possibilities. They represent a loss of innocence, joy and laughter. They represent a future foreclosed.

The Ricky Martin Foundation was founded at a time when children around the world faced bewildering situations that leave them vulnerable to human trafficking. Child labor, sexual and labor exploitation, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking, and modern day slavery are some of the most heartbreaking manifestations of this crime, which foreshadows an epidemic crisis.

Once they are extricated from these terrible situations, to overcome their repercussions, children must develop resilience and self-esteem. They must develop the type of optimism that lies behind every success. Caring adults must play a vital role in this process. Ask any child who overcame adversity and you typically uncover a story of an adult or peer who inspired them, a mentor who convinced them that anything is possible with perseverance.

Doing this has become their mandate. They seek to heal and to nurture. They also seek to inspire and empower. They help those that have already been victimized and we also try to prevent further victimization. The Foundation advocates for the well-being of children around the world in critical areas such as education, health and social justice. Their principal program, People for Children, condemns child exploitation as a result of human trafficking.

The Foundation provides children a safer world through the creation of awareness campaigns, community programs, investigations, participating in global forums as well as by operating facilities that promote our mission.

Actor and singer Ricky Martin, its founder, knows that “the fight to deter this heinous crime is one of the most challenging issues faced by society today: too dreary and overwhelming to be understood by many. Around the globe many authorities lack the capacity to fight the powerful forces that generate these crimes. Without a concerted effort that musters the required resources, exploitation will continue to take our innocent. My dream right now is seeing the abolition of modern day slavery, and human trafficking."

The Ricky Martin Foundation (RMF) is a leading voice and has made great strides in advocating for children's rights around the world. Seeking solutions that address child exploitation systematically, it has developed a comprehensive array of initiatives that include advocacy, investigation, education, and prevention. Global Awareness enables us to inform the world of this heinous crime and mobilize people by participating in forums, workshops, media interventions, and advocacy efforts. Working in partnership as well as by following a multi-sector alliance model involving civil society, inter-governmental organizations, and the private sector solidifies our mission. To be effective in their goal, RMF advocates for the prevention and protection of this most vulnerable segment of the population against all forms of exploitation.

Educating the public, other organizations, and corporations on the national, regional and international scope of the problem of human trafficking through awareness campaigns, briefings and their website can deter this atrocity. As popular educators, RMF aims to serve as a catalyst for global awareness efforts on the grave issues regarding child exploitation.

The denial of child slavery and other crimes against children is a form of collective blindness. RMF is in the field to gather stories, make them public and muster support for practical solutions. With its investigative arm, the Foundation is seeking to shed light and draw attention to an injustice of epidemic proportions. Its ultimate objective is to mobilize public support for policies that prevent this modern scourge.

"Let's practice compassion and give love to these victims" says Ricky Martin. “We know what children are most at risk of being exploited. Based on this understanding, we have developed educational initiatives to address the root causes of this problem. The empowerment of children is absolutely essential to break this cycle of violence.”

Beginning in Puerto Rico, RMF operates centers to impact children holistically with a comprehensive educational service that addresses their academic, health, and emotional needs. The insights gained from this initiative is providing support to the investigative efforts and guide the design of innovative solutions that give at risk children the support and empowerment they need to take control of their lives.

The Child Development and Prevention Center at Loíza, Puerto Rico, known in the beautiful Caribbean Island as Centro Tau, is RMF's new flagship project, serving as a safe haven for these at risk children. It will seek to transform their lives through evidence-based interventions. Alternative educational models will be used to foster a loving environment that addresses each child's very particular intellectual, social, and emotional needs.

Germany’s RTL Foundation selected the Ricky Martin Foundation Child Development and Prevention Center in Loiza, Puerto Rico, as the international project among other four other projects to be recipients of donations received during their renowned RTL Spendenmarathon. The Center allows children and youth at risk to receive emotional and educational alternatives that will maximize their potential as dignified human beings, proud of their culture and heritage. Most importantly, their right to be children will be safeguarded.

“No one should be exploited and deprived of their freedom. We believe every child has the right to be a child. As a public charity, we have discovered that we are not alone in this fight." Ricky Martin