There are more slaves on Earth today than at any other time in history.
‘Slave’ is a word that sounds so ancient… so distant. It evokes images of bare backed men working in fields under the watchful gaze of slave masters and women cooking and cleaning for wealthy families in far off lands.
But today, slavery is much closer to home. While the majority of slavery in our world today revolves around labour exploitation, across Asia, slavery often looks like a little girl (or boy), born in rural poverty, sent to the city at age twelve or thirteen on the premise of finding work to help her family survive. With no other options, she survives by selling the only thing she owns, her body, for the pleasure of men.
Melville and Billabong Uniting Churches hope to eradicate modern slavery, and are taking part in the Ping Pong-a-thon this October.
Challengers will battle it out in their pledged timeslots at the ping pong table, while raising money for organisations combatting human trafficking and exploitation around the world.
Billabong’s event will run nonstop for 24 hours from 10.00am on Saturday 20 October to 10.00am on Sunday 21 October, while Melville’s event will run for 12 hours from 7.00am to 7.00pm on Saturday 6 October.
Adley Pekan, organiser of the Melville event, said he wanted to run the event so that other kids his own age can have happy and safe lives. Adley himself, is of primary school age.
“I want kids like me to be free and not in slavery; to be able to have fun and go to school,” he said.
The Ping Pong-a-thon is a quirky table tennis event with a serious mission. Around $1.25 million has been raised since the first event in 2011. The campaign supports eight organisations on the ground in South East Asia who are combating slavery in many different ways.
At the same time, participants are impacted and educated about the power they have to put an end to human trafficking once and for all. The Pong Pledge encourages boys and men to make a public commitment to value and respect all girls and women and to ask their mates to keep them accountable to this.
Adley said that he is hoping to raise $2 000 towards the cause.
“In my class, my teacher has a saying: ‘Try to make someone’s day better’. By donating to the Ping Pong-a-thon, you can make someone’s life better,” he said.
For more information, to donate or sign up to a team, head to pingpongathon.com and search for either the Billabong or Melville team.