I want to say thanks to Bill and everyone else here for all the warm birthday wishes yesterday. I'd also like to share with you all an email that I just sent to Democracy for America members about an issue that's very important to me.
DFA Member -
As you read this email, I am in rural Thailand near the border with Burma with 20 mostly young people from all over the world who have walked over 200 miles so far to raise money for five organizations on five continents which fight human trafficking. The whole 15-day walk was organized by a 23-year-old American woman and a 23-year-old Thai woman who met while volunteering for victims of Thailand's devastating floods in 2011.
Yesterday was my birthday, which I spent on this walk. I would love it, as a birthday present, if you could go to FreedomToWalk.org, learn more, and donate to help save people who have been trafficked, and to work to prevent trafficking.
Human trafficking is, short of genocide, the most evil form of humans devaluing other human beings. The traffickers make money by exploiting children and adults of both genders not only for sex, but for forced labor. Governments often turn a blind eye because of corruption, or simply because this is a hard problem to deal with and powerful people in or near governments make a lot of money if they don't have to pay a workforce.
The most vulnerable are the likeliest victims. Adolescent girls in the US and abroad are sold into brothels after they are lied to about legitimate job opportunities. Small children are simply kidnapped in India or Africa to provide 15-hour days of labor for no compensation. Even able-bodied men in China are forced into a cycle of indentured servitude all over the world, from which they cannot escape.
A lot of progress has been made. Moldova, which was one of the most notorious centers for traffickers in Europe, has made huge strides in reducing trafficking based there. And President Obama made fighting against traffickers one of the main issues in his speech to the UN this year.
For my birthday, I ask that you support my efforts, and those of many others with a contribution to FreedomToWalk.org so we can bring awareness and hopefully an end to this international travesty.
This has been a long, hard political year, and for the most part, we won a lot more than we lost. But I remind you that the purpose of these political fights is to create real change. We won the election. Now we have to act to force change. Keep up the fight. FreedomToWalk.org.
Warmly, and another year older,
Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
Founder, Democracy for America