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Have you ever had a situation that challenged everything you thought you knew? I had one of those when I met a young girl called Hannah in Liverpool, England.

I had just started working after completing my Bachelor’s Degree as a 22 year old drug treatment counselor. In this role one of my major, and most difficult, tasks was running police cell sweeps assessing the needs of children who had come into contact with the Police.

Hannah told me she had an older boyfriend. When I asked her a little more, however, it became clear that in fact it was a series of older men she was being passed between. After a comprehensive assessment it became clear that although Hannah was 16, due to some severe trauma she had suffered she had a mental age of 10 – and yet she was being trafficked, exploited, and raped by a series of men on a daily basis through the children’s home that should have been providing her care.

CEO Nick Evans Speaking at Hopeland’s 2018 Gala

I came across many disturbing cases in this job but Hannah’s case particularly upset me. I knew I had to try to do something about it and so I raised it with my superiors. Having done so they immediately told me to drop it. Clearly there was no appetite to help Hannah. This attitude would never sit right with me so I raised it again, and again, and again, and always got the same response. I should drop this now or my young career would be ruined. 

This episode taught me some uncomfortable, but important truths:

When children are out of sight, they are out of mind;

Children raised in less fortunate circumstances are much more likely to be trafficked or abused and need our help;

We must always challenge existing practices when they are wrong;

Powerful and haunting experiences like this one are what has led us to create Hopeland: children need someone to step up and fight for them so that they can have the safe, loving family they deserve.

I’m so pleased with the progress Hopeland has already made and I’m excited to share with you Hopeland’s 2018 achievements:

Hopeland’s first campaign ‘All Children Count’ has now received support from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who has called for $1billion of extra funding to ensure all children are counted. The UN Foundation’s Global Mom’s Challenge also recognized our FAMILY campaign and called on its supporters to get behind our work.

Hopeland has also been at the forefront of several important partnerships this year, including ReThink Orphanages, Destination Family, and work with The Share Trust. I am also proud that my incredible Co-Founder, Deborra-lee Furness, again hosted the Global Citizen Festival with her husband Hugh Jackman in Central Park. Our new video featuring Deborra-lee also debuted at the Festival. I was also proud to see Deborra-lee recognized for her work at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Disruptor Awards.

Global Citizen Festival 2018

      Our important advocacy work continued as we have connected the Australian and UK Government’s experts on Modern Slavery as we further develop our FAMILY campaign which has the goal of testing the impact of direct cash transfers and support services on female-led households in preventing family separation, increasing education, and reducing violence.

Hopeland also held its first ever Hackathon at the Boston Consulting Group’s NYC offices and partnered with Paramount Pictures on its new movie Instant Family which explores the reality of adopting and foster care in America.

All this progress makes me so proud to be the CEO of Hopeland and I am so excited for 2019. I’m sure, though, that you are wondering what happened to Hannah.

The story ended with me sat in a community center in Liverpool with an investigator interviewing one of the men involved in the ring that they had exposed. In spite of the threats to my career I persevered. Working hard to do what was right taught me this:

Just because you didn’t cause the problem doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the solution.

By being part of Hopeland’s family you are being part of the solution!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Mohammad Ullah Mirdha says:

    Excellent work. Many Many thanks to hopeland for such an excellent initiative for the helpless children from all over the world. I am Mohammad Ullah Mirdha from Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Bangladesh there are so many helpless children with no family & no education. I want to work with hopeland for these helpless children in Bangladesh. Thanks

  • Michelle says:

    This is BRILLIANT someone is finally mobilizing to take on these issues….I can’t speak for what takes place abroad…as I live in the US and only know what our limited news coverage shows us of other countries and their issues…but I AM a former foster child–and I was NOT safe in foster care. The abuse that started at home only got worse and more varied once I was placed in the US foster care system. People turn a blind eye here in to what really goes on. They don’t want to know that foster children are often mentally, physically, and in my case and so many others, sexually abused, not once..but often, sometimes for years. You have no one to turn to for help. The adults around you don’t want to believe what you tell them, and once you reach out for help but are not believed, you don’t try again. I’m in my forties now and have come to terms with much that had happened back then….but it never leaves you….and it affects everything your life…from education to jobs, relationships….there is NO aspect of your life that the abuse and trauma you went though doesn’t touch. I can’t get the girl I should have been back. I can’t go back and save her…I’ve become someone else…I don’t know who the girl I once was might have otherwise turned out to be. I am left with the cold title of ‘foster care survivor’ …. and no one should have to ‘survive’ those who are supposed to keep them safe. I became a foster parent myself in my late twenties…thinking that I could make a difference…be that person that was never there for me…but the foster care system is so broken, that more often than not…I was simply a witness to more trauma, and often my hands were tied when I most needed to help a child. The problems within the foster care system are systemic…and I don’t know what the solution will be. I just know that more children are hurt every day and languish for years inside foster care…their lifetime expectations for anything dwindling away….and it doesn’t stop. Once a child turns eighteen, in many states they are simply given a small, very small check…and turned into the streets. It is a national disgrace that no one will acknowledge and a crime that repeats itself, doggedly clinging to it’s victims, following them their entire lives. Thank you…so very much, for taking on these issues; and thank you to Coldplay…who led me to your site.

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