“Why art? We want to reach youth in ways that are meaningful to them.”

“Can slavery be abolished once and for all? We are at a tipping point. We have the knowledge, we have the resources, but it’s a willingness.”

Those were the words said by the Founder of the NO Project, an award-winning campaign raising awareness about human trafficking and slavery around the world – through young people and art.

By using dance, videos, music, art and creative writing, the NO Project targets people aged 16-25 in ways that are most meaningful to them. In this way, they commit themselves to ensuring children and young adults are aware of the pervasiveness of modern-day slavery.

Why focus on young people?

Millions of people around the world are currently in forced labour, bonded labour, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, or are even forced into selling their organs. And despite the fact that modern-day slavery exists in nearly every supply chain in every business around the world, it is an issue that is widely misunderstood – as well as under-acknowledged.

That’s why the NO Project focuses on youth.

NO Project

[Image credit: The NO Project]

The Founder of the project, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future; tomorrow’s policymakers, business leaders and activists. She told the IPF:

“School books aren’t tackling modern-day slavery, universities aren’t tackling it. But it is the world’s fastest growing crime. Unless youth have knowledge of the crime now, how on earth are they going to address it in the future?”

She went on to note that it was also important for them to place a special focus on young people because they are the ones who are most vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking.

“Why youth? They are the targets,” she said. “Traffickers can sniff vulnerability – economic vulnerability, emotional vulnerability. Obvious vulnerability – that’s where the traffickers are. They will do what it takes to make someone feel special… They will invest a lot of time grooming, making them feel special, making them feel older, grown up.”

NO Project

[Image credit: The NO Project]

Why focus on art?

The NO Project is committed to producing art that shows victims of slavery as empowered individuals – and not people who are defined by their situation.

When asked why they have chosen to tackle this issue through art, the Founder explained:

“We encourage respect, dignity and integrity. It’s important that the victim isn’t defined. That they aren’t stuck in their situation. They have a future.”

NO Project

[Image credit: The NO Project]

They have recently launched a new project, Gold Costs More than Money, a video to highlight the vital need to ethically source the gold in our jewellery and phones. Tying in with the UK’s Fairtrade Gold campaign, it is a reminder of the blood that goes in to our everyday projects. I want people to see there is Fairtrade jewellery, there are Fairtrade phones.”

She directs me to resources like Slaveryfootprint and madeinthefreeworld so that consumers can ensure they are ethically sourcing their products.

NO Project

[Image credit: The NO Project]

The NO Project’s ethos is summed up by her closing words:

“Change is gradual. We have to take baby steps. We just want justice for the future.”

“Sustainable change is in the little plants, not the old trees that will fall down.”

“Six year-olds are learning about recycling. Everyone knows. We are addressing the physical crisis, but the social aspect, there’s nothing.”

To find out more about the NO Project, visit their website and like them on Facebook.