“There are millions of slaves in the world, more than ever before.” is a numbing quote I face daily. About a year ago, our A21 office in South Africa filmed our very first Can You See Me? Campaign. But it wasn’t until 3 am on a Saturday morning where I stood in the streets of Cape Town asking myself “what the actual hell am I doing right now?” We had three full days of filming. Now that is tight, like worship-leader-skinny-jeans-tight.
Every morning, for the past four years, I’ve been greeted by a bold statement: “Abolish Slavery Everywhere, Forever.” That is the global mission of A21. How do we do that? How will we end slavery in our day? Play your part… Let me take you on a 3-day journey and show you the behind-the-scenes of Can You See Me? South Africa.
Day 1: We had guys flying in from all over the world to make this film happen. It was slightly overwhelming to sit at the table with world-class filmmakers. Luckily there was an overflow of coffee. So now I’m overwhelmed but slightly faster. It was insane to watch people plan, change ideas, go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas to show a true reflection of Human Trafficking in South Africa. From hotel runs to pizza orders, paperwork and location scouting we were ready to start filming.
Day 2: Eight hours at one location. A beautiful house in the suburbs of Cape Town. Ok, honestly, we wrecked the heck out of that place. This was my very first time experiencing a proper film set. Vans full of gear parked in front of the house. Two guys jumped out and started offload heaps of heavy-duty boxes filled with camera gear. You know when you want to help but don’t know where to start? That was me. I stood in the corner inhaling my hash brown, watching it all unfold. To be very honest with you, the scenes we shot at the house was were probably the worse to watch. In human trafficking girls sometimes gets taken to a place called a “breaking house”. It’s a place where traffickers keep girls and brutally abuse them (keeping it light) so that they will obey their traffickers. After a long day of witnessing the worse, we managed to wrap it all up, clean up the house in 20 minutes and got out of there for a nice ice cold lemon water. (winks)
Day 3: Now being on this side of the industry, I realised that there is no such thing as a 9 to 5. Our day started at 2 am. The streets of Cape Town were quiet and extremely cold. I was amazed by how quickly a film set up can be done. My job? I held a lens. How humbling? This scene was the most important one. Slowly as the sun came up the scenes started making sense. It’s the big question; Can You See Me? That is when I realised that what my role is, holding a lens, is not small. It may be a small part of a big picture. But it’s worth it. It’s worth the long hours, the money spent on coffee and the many sleepless nights.
The reality is that Human Trafficking is happening not just overseas, but also in South Africa. We are known as a transit, source and destination country for human trafficking. This means people get trafficked from, through and to South Africa. With more than half of the population being vulnerable to this crime. Human trafficking is known as crime hidden in plain sight. So my question to you is, Can You See Them? Do you know the signs of human trafficking and what to do next? A21 proudly operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you suspect any suspicious human trafficking situations, please contact us at 0800 222 777 and report the information immediately.
A21’s CEO, Nick Caine, is doing the Cape Epic in South Africa. His fundraising goal is $100 000 to make Can You See Me? happen in South Africa. An awareness tool that will reach many vulnerable people and frontline professionals. Why don’t you hop online at, www.a21.org/capeepic and donate today? As Nick takes on the Cape Epic, so are we taking back territory through awareness. Remember no part is too small to make a difference!