Annual Impact Report

2021

As a country, we have endured many types of collective trauma brought by health and economic crises and natural and man-made disasters, but I’ve seen Filipinos come together and rise each time. With your support and partnership, I expect to witness the power of a renewed sense of resilience and collective action as we move forward. remain healthy, present, and focused.

The year 2021 marks Voice of the Free’s 30th year in the fight against human trafficking. Regrettably, the ripple effects of the pandemic have magnified pre-existing problems in the Philippines such as displacement, unemployment, labor issues, and online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, making the fight against trafficking an arduous journey. However, ihas also challenged us to rethink our strategies.

 
 

We at Voice of the Free vow to continue combining partnership and movement building, prevention efforts, protective care services, and policy and advocacy to combat human trafficking and modern slavery in the country. But global issues such as modern slavery are something we cannot resolve in isolation — we must continue working in collaboration with other changemakers and social innovators to achieve fundamental social impacts. And so, I express my deep gratitude to our stakeholders for the relentless support, service, and commitment to the slavery movement for the past three decades.

Impact of the Pandemic

Reduction in OFW Deployment

OFWs still Jobless 3 Months after Returning Home

Estimated Unemployment Rate in August 2021

3.88M

3.88M

Jobless Filipinos with Fresh Lockdowns

264%

264%

Increase in OSEDC Cases during Quarantine

279k

279k

Recorded Cybercrime Tip Reports

In the Philippines, thousands of local and migrant workers have lost their jobs and livelihoods, bringing more families closer to poverty and vulnerable to trafficking. A 264% increase in incident reports of Online Sexual Exploitation Cases (OSEC) was recorded during the first three months of government-imposed lockdowns. The same upward trend is likewise observed in domestic abuse and violence cases. The pandemic has brought major setbacks in multi-stakeholder anti-trafficking efforts, leading to rising of other forms of human trafficking and new challenges to monitoring forced labor cases.

Still, Voice of the Free is committed to empowering Filipinos from all forms of modern-day slavery through Protection, Partnerships, Prevention, and Policies.

There’s still plenty of work to do, but we continue looking for ways to improve our strategies and bring every Filipino closer to freedom.

 
 

Response to the Pandemic

Voice of the Free implemented multiple strategies to alleviate the impacts of the pandemic on food and job security, especially in vulnerable groups.

29,894

individuals
reached

5,675

families
reached

17

key locations
reached
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Agapayan para kay Kababayan

The Covid-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis — it’s a struggle for food, income, and security, especially for socioeconomically vulnerable families.

Through the support of the Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation and Skoll Foundation, VF has provided emergency food packs, hygiene kits, and primers on COVID-19 safety and human trafficking to 4,600 families to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and natural disaster - Typhoon Vamco.

These efforts ensure that these communities access information and basic needs, alleviating their vulnerability to abuse, exploitation, and trafficking.

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Work-Skills Connect

Work Skills Connect PH is an online community platform created by Voice of the Free to respond to the massive displacement of local and migrant workers. It aims to connect displaced migrant and local workers to decent work and livelihood opportunities in their area. Job seekers can access helpful information on available government services and decent opportunities to reduce their vulnerability to unsafe migration and human trafficking.

The program was piloted in Negros Occidental, a province in Western Visayas, where it has reached 1,519 job seekers since the WSC's launch in August 2020.

Voice of the Free partnered with government agencies and civil society organizations including Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), PESO Offices, and the Overseas Filipino Worker Federation of Negros Occidental to offer comprehensive assistance to displaced workers.

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Community Pantry

Voice of the Free amplified its efforts against Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (OSAEC) by partnering with community pantries and community kitchens in identified OSAEC hotspots within Metro Manila in June 2021.

Give what you can, take what you need.

Community pantries are community-led food banks that operate by the idea ‘Give what you can, take what you need’ where people can donate food supplies to provide to those in need. VF partnered with four volunteer organizations running community pantries to supplement their food supply and distribute informational flyers on human trafficking, OSAEC, and helplines. An estimated 2,200 benefited from the donations coursed through VF.

Various Programs for Our Four Pillars

Protective Care Services

Quarantine and Isolation Area
A quarantine facility beside the survivors’ dormitory was constructed to increase the center’s capacity and allow the admission of new referrals without compromising the health and safety of the case management team and survivors staying at the shelter. The facility is also useful for isolating survivors or VF team members who exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 to ensure that everyone’s health is prioritized.
Healing and Recovery Programs
Raising Hope Project
ReNEW Program
Healing Farm

Partnerships & Movement Building

iFIGHT Movement
In March 2021, Voice of the Free, in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and Department of Education, launched the iFIGHT webinar series that aims to equip youth leaders to advocate and act against human trafficking. Topics include Trafficking 101, Online Safety, Digital Advocacy, Youth Leadership and Volunteerism, and Building an iFIGHT Chapter.

Voice of the Free continues broadcasting through GFM OneLife Radio to reach remote indigenous communities in South Cotabato and Sarangani Province who have little to no access to the internet. Through its 45-minute radio program every Sunday, VF provides protective information against Trafficking in Persons among the tribal communities often taken advantage of by the traffickers. The radio program reaches 10,000 households from both provinces.
We Stand As One
Zonta Club

Prevention Program

Community Watch Group
Bantay Komunidad sa Dumandan

187 women registered as members of the BK Dumandan social enterprise that serves as a venue for multiple livelihood opportunities

156 members assisted in registration and contribution to social protection services

15 partner market hubs

Policy and Advocacy

Philippine Senate
Psychological First Aid and Stress Management Training for Senate Legislative Staff

Voice of the Free, in partnership with the Association of Committee Secretaries (ACeS), hosted a webinar series centered on Psychological First Aid, facilitated by a professional psychotherapist to help the officers and staff of the Governance and Legal Concerns Cluster and the Economic and Socio-Cultural Cluster of the Senate of the Philippines improve their psychological and mental health amid the pandemic. The sessions addressed the importance of protecting one’s mental health to provide care for others effectively. The series also highlighted stress management techniques that can be applied in their personal and professional lives to help participants overcome challenges brought by the pandemic.

Message of Hope

I am now living with my family, and I am thankful for the psychosocial support — from counseling to livelihood assistance— VF has continued to offer. Recently, I completed a one-month social entrepreneurship training. The training gave me the chance to look for other ways to earn when I became unemployed due to the pandemic. I started a small food business which became my primary source of income during that time. Online counseling has also always been useful in helping me understand myself better. And now, thankfully, things are slowly going back to normal. I am employed as customer support in the online store and at the same time attending school.

Center of Hope gave me so many opportunities that equipped me with skills and knowledge that have helped me cope and live my life. Everything I’ve learned led me to better opportunities.

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Let us bring back the smile in Daniel’s face.

Daniel

Daniel* was rescued in October 2021 after a neighbor reported physical abuse perpetrated by the child’s guardian. Daniel was found with bruises on his face, neck, and legs, and cigarette burns on his ears.

According to the initial investigation, the guardian bought the child for 3,000 pesos on Facebook. Voice of the Free is coordinating with authorities for the continuing investigation. Daniel is now staying at the Center of Hope and will be eventually referred for permanence of placement.

*An alias is used to protect the victim's identity.

Crazy About Sports

What began as tennis training is now a full sports program at the Center of Hope including tennis, karate, and volleyball.

Crazy About Sports (CAS) is a group that aims to nurture children's passion for sports. In 2020, the group offered scholarship grants to girls who have shown potential and dedication in sports. Scholarships have so far been given to four survivors. Three scholars are currently in college while one is finishing her studies under the Alternative Learning System education program.

All survivors under Voice of the Free's care are encouraged to join at least one activity to foster their physical strength, social skills, and discipline. Center of Hope also offers other non-CAS strength training and physical fitness activities such as boxing and ballet.

Center of Hope

Legal Assistance

Recreation

Counselling

Rest

Education

Gardening

Music Sessions

Backyard Farming

Expense Allocation

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The pandemic has tested our individual and collective resilience. Despite the overwhelming challenges, Voice of the Free has remained committed to protecting and empowering the most vulnerable. We adopted new methods and strategies to provide essential services to our beneficiaries and the people needing our interventions during this trying time.

The impact that we have accomplished is all thanks to our hardworking and dedicated staff. Thank you for your outstanding service and dedication. I would also like to thank our Board of Trustees for their expertise and guidance. On behalf of the Voice of the Free team and survivors, I express our sincerest gratitude to our donors, partners, and volunteers — our allies in the fight against human trafficking — for supporting our programs. Your contributions enabled us to sustain our work, helping us reach more individuals, families, and communities and mitigate their vulnerabilities to all forms of abuse during this crisis.

And finally, to our beneficiaries, the survivors, and communities we work with, thank you for being paragons of change and hope. As we steadily regain our footing as an organization, we aim to help more individuals in the years to come.

Along with our pillar programs, we’ve also lodged anti-human trafficking efforts into disaster response initiatives, community-led projects, and various online activities.

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