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    Posted December 5, 2011 by
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Take a stand to end slavery

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    In Ukraine, people are not for sale


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     gadukraine, a group of Peace Corps volunteers in Ukraine last year, recruited teachers, students and other volunteers throughout the country last year to promote a toll-free hotline service operated by the International Organization for Migration that provides information about how to work, study and travel abroad safely. They also created a video public service announcement spreading the word and made a special version of the video for CNN’s Freedom Project, featuring groups from 23 of Ukraine’s 24 oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea taking a stand to end slavery.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    “In Ukraine, people are not for sale.” This is the message that more than 30 Peace Corps Volunteers and more than 1,600 Ukrainians worked to spread across the country.

    It all began in April, when volunteers Rachel Muhlstein, Alia Scheirman and Stephanie Somerman led more than 20 Ukrainian youth to educate their community about the issue of human trafficking and 527, the toll-free hotline service operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This event was the first in a series of projects, part of the “527 Campaign” organized by the Gender and Development (GAD) Council of Peace Corps Ukraine and the IOM to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

    “Every year thousands of Ukrainians become victim to human trafficking,” said Muhlstein. “Most of the time Ukrainians jump at any offer they get to go abroad without checking to make sure it is legitimate and safe. Our hope is that by educating others about resources like IOM’s 527 hotline more people will call this number and inquire about an opportunity to work or study abroad before accepting an offer.”

    IOM’s 527 hotline provides information about how to work, study and travel abroad safely and also gives callers an opportunity to ask questions about a specific work opportunities abroad. Most importantly, the 527 hotline connects victims of trafficking to services provided by IOM and IOM-affiliated organizations throughout Ukraine.

    Each 527 project began with a training seminar about the basics of human trafficking, specifically in Ukraine, then participants took to the streets with handmade signs and t-shirts donated by the IOM, which read “Ask me, what is #527?” on the front and “People are not for sale!” on the back.

    Catching the attention of local community members, participants in Nova Kakhovka advertised the 527 hotline and canvassed several busy streets, taking pride in their mission of educating others and distributing hundreds of pamphlets to passersby.

    “One of the most inspiring parts of this project was seeing so many students actively approaching community members to tell them about 527,” said Scheirman. “Community members stopped to read the signs that the students created and seemed generally interested in the information being shared.”

    Over the next few months, the 527 projects took place in all 25 oblasts of Ukraine and project organizers collected videos and pictures to create a public service announcements in both English and Ukrainian to further educate people and showcase the efforts of all those involved.

    “Combating human trafficking is a major pillar of the GAD Ukraine mission,” said Somerman, president of the GAD working group. “We work to educate Ukrainians about human trafficking through a variety of avenues, including our annual gender summer camps GLOW and TOBE, developing lesson plans and seminars for youth and adults, and by working closely with IOM to raise awareness of this important issue. To celebrate 50 years of the Peace Corps worldwide and 20 years in Ukraine, we thought it was the perfect time to unite volunteers in Ukraine around a common issue that affects every oblast and community, small and large, and take a stand against human trafficking.”

    For more information about GAD and/or the 527 Campaign please email gadukraine@gmail.com.

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