On a rainy Saturday morning this month, Hindson Her, founder of GOAT Basketball, Seoul’s largest amateur basketball troupe, met with Dustin Kerns and Eunjin Jeong, both employees of IOM Seoul, at Jamwon Han River Courts. They set up tents, hung posters and prepared for the arrival of23 teams and more than 100 spectators. This year’s GOAT Basketball 3rd Summer 3V3 Tournament was different, dedicated to one special person: a survivor of human trafficking, known as Sansa Rani. With the tournament, they would help a young woman in Indonesia start a new life. The rain, cultural, social and geographical distances didn’t matter.
At the age of 28, Sansa was a domestic worker from Indonesia who went through a whirlwind of abuse before being rescued on the side of a road in Malaysia. Sansa’s story came to GOAT through the International Organization of Migration’s (IOM) 6Degree.org initiative, a humanitarian crowdfunding portal that enables the public to donate and support the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of former victims of human trafficking. You can check out her case here: http://www.6degree.org/case/VC201507100616163461
“With GOAT we built a strong community of people who are not only passionate about basketball, but about social causes too” said Hindson. “Pointing our passion for the game towards good causes has always been a way to connect with the sport in a more meaningful way and with IOM in Seoul we have found a partner who can help us direct our dedication to helping an individual get back on her feet.”
As the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, with 162 member states and 480 field locations around the world, IOM has provided more than 70,000 people with humanitarian, medical, legal and migration support. This support includes helping individual trafficking survivors achieve social and economic self-sufficiency. While the organization has the expertise, human resources, processes and facilities to help these victims, the cost of shelter, medical or legal assistance, support with their journey home, education or skills development, job placements and/or help with establishing a small business to prevent re-trafficking, preclude it from expanding its efforts in this area.
“With 6Degree.org, IOM is bridging a divide between those individuals who have fallen victim to ruthless greed and those who are committed, generous and willing to reach out and help. I believe it is a testimony to the global awareness of this generation to see how this group of young, dedicated individuals have answered this call, rallied around their passion for basketball and are now helping a young lady halfway around the world overcome her trauma and return to self-sufficiency,” said Miah Park, Head of Office at IOM Seoul.
“When GOAT Basketball Korea approached IOM, we were immediately taken by how motivated and driven they were. They really wanted to help, so naturally we asked ourselves ‘How can we direct such a drive towards having the most significant impact’? 6Degree.org seemed to be the perfect match,” Park added.
The portal is focused on channeling individual contributions to individual survivors. IOM’s Case Officers who identify victims of human trafficking also work with the survivors on the ground and conduct a needs assessment to determine the specific amount of funding required to finance the implementation of support services, preparation and required follow-up for the survivor’s assistance.. With the consent of the survivor, IOM’s Case Officers then provide anonymous information about each victim’s case to 6Degree.org’s public users, who can choose to financially support the funding goal towards the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of the individual’s case.
Developed based on a partnership between Microsoft and IOM X, 6Degree.org adheres to IOM’s proven victim protection standards. Since a survivor’s anonymity is his or her most important form of protection, 6Degree.org does not use photographs of faces and modifies information that could compromise their safety or chances of a normal life. Each survivor’s story is told through interactive story maps, which strikes a balance between protecting the victim’s’ identity and telling a compelling and relatable story to potential funders. The interactive map, built on top of Bing Maps, allows users to follow the journey of each former victim, with significant milestones illustrated by bold, clickable icons. When clicked, the user is presented with a narrative elaborating on the survivor’s experience at that point in in their journey.
“When you go to 6Degree.org you can actually read individual stories of survivors. I clicked on Sansa’s case first because its funding goal was the furthest off from being achieved. The portal doesn’t use any photos or identifiable information. Instead, you read about her story through clickable milestones on a map. I like that. Sansa really had to go through a lot and I don’t need to see her photograph in order to want to help her. Her story helped me empathize with the challenges she faced but also allowed me to get a sense of her incredible resilience. When I read that she has since been reunited with her family and hopes to establish a small bakery business to support herself and her son, I thought that we at GOAT should definitely try and help her!” said Hindson Her.
Since its launch last year, 6Degree.org has received donations from users all around the world.
“GOAT’s benefit tournament is a good example of what we are trying to accomplish,” said Mike Nedelko, Digital Engagement Manager for IOM X and 6Degree’s Project Lead. “6Degree.org is not just another way to donate money. We are ultimately connecting individual users with individual human stories. This allows users to learn about the stories that survivors of trafficking rarely get to tell. As such 6degree.org not only provides dedicated individuals with a new opportunity to ensure their charitable contributions go directly towards changing the life of another individual, it also helps to develop awareness, build understanding and nurture conviction towards stopping human trafficking through the many actions of a united collective.”
And it worked! GOAT Basketball and IOM Seoul raised enough money, not only to complete funding for Sansa Rani’s case, but also to fund another case whilst making a significant contribution to a third.
Caption: International students from Malaysia and Indonesia share written notes of encouragement to Sansa.
Caption: IOM Indonesia shows their support for the GOAT event on 11 June 2016.