Today we have the privilege of speaking with inspirational leader Nick Grono. Nick was appointed as the inaugural CEO of the Freedom Fund in 2014, to launch an ambitious effort to mobilize the knowledge, capital and expertise needed to end modern slavery. In the first 5 years of their operation, the Freedom Fund worked with frontline partners to directly liberate over 20,000 people and helped send over 50,000 at-risk children back to school.
In the modern anti-slavery movement, Nick’s voice is internationally respected. “We all need to become more sophisticated in our understanding of the problem and the solutions. The anti-slavery movement has evolved. The movement has gotten more sophisticated,” comments Nick. “Ten to fifteen years ago the movement was more focused on rescue and breaking down doors. But there’s a reason vulnerable people end up in these situations. We need to understand where they come from, what puts them in that space in the first place, what keeps them there, and what options exist once they come out of that situation.”
Nick explains how the COVID-19 pandemic will greatly affect the most vulnerable communities. “Coronavirus will invariably have a devastating impact on vulnerable communities. In the West we talk about social distancing and hand washing; that doesn’t really work if you have ten people crammed into a one-room shanty that’s tightly jammed and has no access to any running water, let alone soap.”
Yet the mission and vision of the Freedom Fund remains compelling and unshaken: “This is the time to invest in frontline organizations. Many large NGOs are pulling out all their international staff and expats from these countries. What we really need is those close to vulnerable communities to be empowered. As donors, foundations and western governments try and come to grips with how they are going to support vulnerable communities, I hope they will understand the importance of frontline actors and NGOs.”
To hear more on Nick’s personal journey, his work and wisdom, listen in!