Human trafficking remains a serious issue worldwide, with more than 50 million victims estimated to be suffering from this crime at any given time. Sadly, fewer than 1% of victims ever get help or are even identified. But nonprofit organizations like Everfree are working to change that. And Pax8, a leading cloud Marketplace, has partnered with Everfree to do our part in making a difference.
Two organizations, Willow International and 10ThousandWindows, each previously worked in this space for a combined 16 years, helping hundreds of human trafficking survivors before joining forces to form Everfree. Everfree provides a comprehensive program to combat human trafficking at its core by offering survivor-informed, local led, and scalable solutions for survivor care and trafficking prevention.
The organization works closely with local communities and law enforcement to help identify and rescue victims of trafficking, ensuring their safety and providing immediate support. Once survivors are rescued, Everfree offers a range of services, including education, residential aftercare programs that provide safe shelter in a supportive community, individualized case management, food, trauma counseling, and medical and psychiatric care. And in partnership with survivors, EverFree’s Empowerment Centers provide holistic economic empowerment services, such as education scholarships, vocational training, and job placement, helping survivors to attain lasting freedom.
With their four-pronged approach of “Educate, Equip, Protect, and Empower,” Everfree also empowers communities, frontline responders, and survivor leaders with knowledge and solutions to stop human trafficking before it starts.
How Pax8 joined the fight
Pax8 connected with Everfree through a Women in Channel event where employees met Kelsey Morgan, co-founder and Chief Program Officer of Everfree. The organization’s mission to uplift survivors and fight human trafficking in Uganda left members and colleagues impressed and inspired.
“We were just completely gobsmacked by what she’s been able to accomplish,” says Mandy Melby, Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Services at Pax8.
The research Everfree presented was compelling — the devastating statistics reveal that more than 80% of survivors are revictimized, and an alarming one in four victims are children.
“Regardless of where you come from and your experiences and where you live, you know that this is a problem that is completely unacceptable,” Melby says.
As Everfree expanded its work into the Philippines, Pax8 found partnering with Everfree to be a natural fit. Because this problem has only become more prevalent with the advent of technology, Pax8 felt duty-bound to get involved. And due to its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, we felt we could make a real impact prior to the cloud marketplace going live there.
“Unfortunately, human trafficking is often enabled by technology and the internet,” Melby explains. “But technology is also the thing that can potentially liberate people from these circumstances.”
Pax8 and Everfree in the Philippines
Pax8 recently sent six employees to the Philippines to see Everfree’s work firsthand. The team had the opportunity to engage in outreach activities and connect with survivors as they visited the streets of Cebu and taught classes on everything from Microsoft Office to building resiliency.
Lyndsey Hoffman, Vice President of Social Impact for Pax8, described the experience as extremely immersive and life-changing.
“It was amazing being able to give back and create this kind of connective tissue of sharing that privilege of knowledge, either through schooling or life experience, and helping to empower others that don’t have the same equitable access that we’ve had,” she said.
The role technology plays in human trafficking quickly became crystal clear during the delegation’s trip. Indeed, a 2020 report showed a 125% increase in recruitment into trafficking through Facebook and a 95% increase via Instagram compared to the previous year.
“Everyone had a cell phone; everyone was on a social media site. … It was an ‘a-ha’ moment for us,” Hoffman says. She emphasized that lack of education, resources, and support are factors contributing to trafficking, rather than victims being held against their will. This realization prompted Pax8 to leverage our technological expertise.
“We had the opportunity to see the full journey and identify ways that we could support and leverage the Pax8 ecosystem to help provide solutions and to be able to connect them to other organizations, like our partners and vendors,” Hoffman said. “It becomes, ‘how do we offset the role technology plays in this issue by helping survivors and connecting them to the tech ecosystem so that they can build solutions together?’”
One way in which Pax8 plans to help in that regard is to hold a hackathon to help EverFree further develop its Freedom Greenlight app. This tool helps survivors pick their own path to freedom through a wellbeing self-assessment that a case manager can then use to develop a care plan with them.
“It’s a combination of creating a community around them, using both our time and skills, but also continuing to support financially,” Melby says.
How Pax8 partners are helping
The collaboration between Pax8 and Everfree has sparked a wave of support from partners and vendors. At the recent Pax8 partner event Beyond 2023, Pax8 sold custom merch and EverFree bracelets that raised more than $20,000 for Everfree, plus Pax8 made a $60,000 donation, which Hoffman says can provide 10 years’ worth of housing for survivors in Cebu and an overwhelming number of participants asked how else they could help.
“We had a ton of partners at Beyond reach out and say, ‘I want to do some pro bono work, can I help donate laptops? Can I help you with a marketing plan?'” Hoffman says.
“Whether through financial support or time and talent, we want to create a path for everyone who’s in this ecosystem to be able to help in some way,” Hoffman says. “It might seem an insurmountable problem from the outside, but now having seen firsthand the ways in which organizations like this are helping survivors, it’s clear that every bit of help is welcome and needed.”