Leaders from across the globe came together in New York City to celebrate their continuous efforts to help halt one of the fastest growing illegal businesses in the world. 

The Sophie Stenbeck Family Foundation and Reach for Change hosted the   Child 10 Awards Luncheon on Wednesday afternoon where they celebrated 10 individuals who have fought to protect children from abuse and trafficking. 

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children from the United States are currently involved in sex trafficking, according to Child 10. These children are part of a total of about 2 million children who are exploited yearly around the world. 

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“We committed to finding the 10 grassroots leaders from around the world who are fighting the trafficking and abuse of children,” said Sophie Steinbeck, president of the Sophie Stenbeck Family Foundation. “It is so satisfying to see these problems being recognized now and great advances like cutting edge technology is being developed to find exploited and trafficked children. This was unimaginable 15 years ago.”

Since first awarding a set of leaders back in 2014 with the first Child 10 Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, this year marked the first time the Child 10 Awards made its way to the United States. 

To launch the first American event in New York City, Child 10 partnered with Jolie Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, who was also one of the speakers at the event. Award-winning journalist Tina Brown was also the host of the event. 

“Modern day slavery is real in our lives. It’s not just something that happens in a far away land,” Jones said. “It’s happening here and although it seems unthinkable, right here in this country, U.S. citizens and our very own children are being exploited.” 

The honorees at the Child 10 Awards included Adoumkidjim Naiban of the Special Education Center for Children (CESER) in Chad; Anuradha Koirala of Maiti in Nepal; Arkan Asaad of Right 2 Choose in Sweden; Brenda-Deborah Shuma of the Gabrielle Centre in Tanzania; Cecilia Fiaka of Nneka Youth Foundation in Ghana; Cecilia Flores-Oebanda of the Visayan Forum Foundation in the Philippines; Elin Wernquist of The Child Rights’ Bureau in Sweden; Katie Albright of San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center in the United States; Kiiya JK of C-Sema in Tanzania; and Susan Sabaa of CRRECENT in Ghana. 

Fiaka works to support rural communities in Ghana to combat teenage pregnancy and drug abuse and offers summer camps and youth development seminars. 

“When we bring [the girls] together we are able to let them know that yes you can make it, yes you can become somebody in society,” Fiaka said. 

For Susan Sabaa, the mission for her organization, CRRECENT, is to support the re-integration of juvenile offenders and run crime prevention programs for children at risk. 

According to Sabaa, 40 percent of crimes in Ghana are by young people between 15 to 24 years old.

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“These are not criminals, they are victims. They are victims because they did not get the kind of opportunity you and I got growing up,” Sabaa said. “One child lost to crime is one too many and one child saved from crime is one enough.”

Anuradha Koirala, was honored for the work she has done in Nepal to help prevent trafficking along what is considered one of the busiest slave trafficking routers in the world. 

Koirala also works to provide education, information and economic empowerment while also enforcing border surveillance. She helps also fee girls from brothels in India, transporting them to Nepal and helping them get rehabilitated. 

“Close your eyes, think each child as your daughter. The pain from your heart will come and then only you will think that you have to do something for this child,” she said. “Let’s join hands together and make this world a better place for girls and women to live and lets make this society a trafficking-free society.”