We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Helen Avadiar-Nimbalker, the newly appointed Director of Asia Freedom Network (AFN). Helen shared her insights, experiences, and vision for combating exploitation and human trafficking in Asia.
Congratulations Helen. What does this new role mean to you?
It is truly an honor and a privilege and fills me with gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility. It represents a significant milestone in my advocacy journey, and I am humbled by the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded organizations and individuals who are making a real impact in combating human trafficking. I am excited about the
platform it provides to amplify the voices of the vulnerable and work towards ensuring their rights are protected across the diverse continent of Asia with like-minded partners.
Your background in trauma therapy and your work with social justice organizations are remarkable. How do you plan to leverage this experience in your new role as Director of AFN?
My experience as a trauma therapist has allowed me to witness firsthand the devastating impact of exploitation and abuse. It has reinforced the importance of addressing not only the physical needs but also the emotional and psychological well-being of survivors and front liners. AFN hopes to be able to provide resources and trainings for organisations to incorporate trauma-informed approaches into their work, ensuring that the voices and needs of survivors are at the forefront of all our efforts. Survivor inclusion is also a very big part of my passion and I would love to be able to raise more awareness on this.
Issues of slavery and trafficking are complex and often deeply rooted. How do you plan to navigate the challenges and foster collaboration among the various organisations and people in Asia?
With a good team and partnerships! Navigating the challenges of slavery and trafficking in Asia requires a collaborative approach. It is important to recognize that there are already successful collaborative structures in place within each country. Building upon these existing networks, my focus for AFN will be on strengthening relationships and fostering trust. By forming a team of like-minded individuals and actively engaging with organizations in the field, we can establish open lines of communication and create opportunities for collaboration. Leveraging existing networks and partnerships, both regionally and internationally, will maximize our collective impact. By identifying common goals, coordinating efforts, and advocating for systemic changes, we can work towards a society free from exploitation. Together, we can create a united front to eradicate slavery and
trafficking in Asia.
In your new role, what are your primary goals for the Asia Freedom Network?
My primary goals revolve around forming a strong and dedicated core team while seeking partnerships in each country across Asia. By forging meaningful friendships, identifying collaboration opportunities and meaningful partnerships, we can develop coordinated strategies to effectively combat exploitation. Additionally, I envision creating opportunities and raising awareness on how we can collectively amplify the voices of survivors, strengthen preventive measures, and implement trauma-informed practices. By prioritizing the well-being and empowerment of survivors, wecan ensure that our interventions and support systems are sensitive to their unique needs.
How do you envision trauma-informed practices and structures making a difference in supporting survivors and those on the front lines?
Trauma-informed practices are essential for creating safe and supportive environments for survivors and frontline workers. This involves understanding the impact of trauma, providing appropriate care and support, and prioritizing the mental and emotional well-being of survivors. By offering specialized services, respecting survivors’ voices and choices, and addressing secondary trauma among frontline workers, we promote healing and resilience in
the fight against exploitation. Trauma-informed practices prioritize the well-being of both survivors and frontline workers, creating an environment of compassion and support. By integrating these practices, we empower survivors and build a resilient network dedicated to ending exploitation.
Why is there a need for a Network in Asia. Why now?
The need for a network in Asia has become imperative in response to the alarming prevalence of exploitation and human trafficking in the region. Asia faces complex and deeply rooted issues that demand a concerted and collaborative effort to address. Furthermore, the rise of global challenges like online scams and cyber-enabled financial crimes has expanded the problem beyond regional boundaries, necessitating international cooperation. By forming Asia Freedom Network, we aim to foster strategic alliances and unite organizations, churches, and individuals already engaged in remarkable work. This network will provide a platform to bridge collaborations across Asia, facilitating effective collaboration, coordination, and the pooling of resources. Together, we can confront the multifaceted nature of exploitation and develop sustainable systemic solutions.
Why do you think it is important for churches to be involved?
Churches play a crucial role in the collective effort to combat slavery because they have a unique ability to inspire collective action to raise awareness, provide support to survivors and address root causes. The role of churches is both influential and transformative. Their vast influence and resources enable them to make a significant impact in the fight against exploitation. By leveraging their capacity and experience, churches have the potential to champion social justice and tackle systemic issues such as poverty, inequality and lack of education, which render individuals susceptible to exploitation.
We at World Freedom Network are excited to grow our influence and impact in Asia and look forward to the collaborations formed through Asia Freedom Network.