The premiere of the film by Dominika Kulczyk and CNN. ‘Fighting for Mercy’ is a moving story about modern slavery

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  • The premiere of the film by Dominika Kulczyk and CNN. ‘Fighting for Mercy’ is a moving story about modern slavery

Domestic slavery is the everyday life of hundreds of thousands of girls in Tanzania. The documentary by CNN International and Dominika Kulczyk tells the story of Mercy Esther. At the age of 8, Mercy was taken from her home village and brought to Kenya, where she was forced to work as a servant. She was never paid, was beaten, and was deprived of any chance for education.

Mercy, 16, made a successful escape attempt and was taken into the care of the Tanzanian organisation WoteSawa. Its founder, Angela Benedicto, was herself a victim of domestic servant slavery in the past. Now she dedicates her life to saving girls who, like Mercy Esther, have experienced modern slavery. WoteSawa cooperates with the Kulczyk Foundation.

The story of Mercy Esther is a symbol of female strength, a fight for our rights, a symbol of rebirth. It is embodied not only by the main character of the documentary, but also by Angela, the founder of the WoteSawa organisation that cooperates with us. But for her determination, thousands of girls in Tanzania would still be doing slave labour. It is extremely valuable that together with CNN we can show this touching story to the world for the first time – says Dominika Kulczyk.

‘CNN Freedom Project’ is a project that includes, among others, a series of CNN International documentaries, which were created in cooperation with Dominika Kulczyk and the Kulczyk Foundation. The ‘CNN Freedom Project’ was launched in 2011 and also includes a collection of reports and articles that address human trafficking in all its forms. The project raised over $24 million for organisations fighting modern slavery and publicised over 1,000 stories that happened on five continents.

WoteSawa is a Tanzanian NGO that helps children who have fallen victim to human trafficking and slave labour. It was founded in 2012 on the initiative of Angela Benedicto. WoteSawa runs shelters in Mwanza and Kasulu (Kigoma region). The rescued girls receive the necessary help – a roof over their heads, food, health care and psychological support. The organisation also conducts vocational training.

The Kulczyk Foundation supports WoteSawa's activities for girls rescued from slave labour in domestic service. The two organisations work hand in hand to carry out their projects in the districts of Mwanza and Ngara.

We bought the girls from Tanzania sewing machines and materials. We train them in sewing reusable sanitary pads. Girls learn a profession that will allow them to support themselves, which really helps in the fight against modern slavery. Sewn pads are given to girls and women who experience various forms of poverty, including period poverty. We also fund classes to raise awareness about menstrual health and sexual and reproductive rights. This is a necessary help – adds the President of Kulczyk Foundation.

Tanzania is the largest and most populous country in East Africa. More than 60% of the population lives in rural areas with limited access to drinking water and sanitation. Poverty and difficult conditions force children to emigrate to cities in search of work. It is estimated that over one million children in Tanzania work as servants. Most of them are girls, which is the result of a deeply rooted tradition.

Some of them are victims of human trafficking. Many girls run away from home to escape domestic violence or forced marriage, becoming easy prey for human traffickers. Away from their families, girls are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse. They often do not receive remuneration for their work, they work all day without adequate food and no chance for education. Many of them suffer physical and psychological violence.

The documentary will be broadcast on CNN International at the following times (GMT):

  • Saturday, March 18, at 5:30 AM
  • Saturday, March 18, at 4:00 PM
  • Sunday, March 19, at 6:00 PM
  • Monday, March 20, at 4:00 AM


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