Capitalizing on the leadership and expertise of international leaders in the Vital Voices network, the Global Freedom Exchange (GFE), a Hilton and Vital Voices partnership, with additional support from the Avon Foundation for Women, leverages leadership to end sex and labor trafficking. Relying on a multi-faceted, impact-oriented approach, the program provides a dynamic educational and mentoring opportunity for emerging and established women leaders who are on the forefront of global efforts to prevent and respond to the destructive crime of human trafficking.
Each year, the GFE convenes a select group of women leaders from countries around the world, known as GFE Fellows. Over the past six years, the GFE has involved a total of 126 women leaders from 50 countries in a two-week experiential, interactive, learning and networking program in three cities in the United States that have developed unique, effective approaches to addressing human trafficking.
Following the conclusion of the program, GFE Fellows leverage the knowledge and networks they gain during their Fellowship experience to enact positive change in their own communities and regions. GFE Fellows all over the world use the tools and connections to offer comprehensive services to survivors, reduce vulnerability to trafficking, hold perpetrators accountable, and contribute to a worldwide network of anti-trafficking leaders who are creating a safer world for us all.
Meet The 2018 Fellows
2018 Fellow, Psychologist, SafeHouse Foundation
Nina Volontey is a psychologist and coach at SafeHouse Foundation in Russia. Since 2013, she has held consultations as a psychotherapist and psychologist for survivors of human trafficking, children from troubled families, and institutionalized children. She has also served as a coach for programs related to the prevention of human trafficking at SafeHouse Foundation. Nina has provided trainings for vulnerable youth groups such as orphans, street children, and homeless children who are often victims of human trafficking and other forms of violence with the aim of equipping them with simple tools to avoid human trafficking situations, protect themselves, and develop their leadership potential.
Nina is also a coach in a program that took place around the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The program helped to raise awareness of NGOs, psychologists, social workers, representatives of state structures, initiative groups and activists in the field of preventing human trafficking with the aim of organizing preventive work in the regions, as well as identifying and referring victims of trafficking during the World Cup 2018 in Russia. Previously, Nina worked at the International Organization for Migration on a project that provided legal and social support to vulnerable populations, including victims of trafficking. As a psychologist, she routinely holds consultations and workshops with vulnerable groups of people and victims of violence.
Nina was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Presiding Judge, Supreme Court, Judiciary
Elisa Sarmiento-Flores is the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 71, Pasig City, one of the Philippines’ pilot courts for continuous trial. She is also the Acting Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 69, Taguig City, a Family Court. In both courts, she presides over cases involving murder, human trafficking, domestic violence, and child abuse, among other crimes. Prior to her appointment in the judiciary, Elisa was a prosecutor in the Department of Justice and a public attorney in the Public Attorney’s Office, respectively. In both capacities, she was specially trained to handle cases involving women and children. For her consummate service as a prosecutor, she was awarded Outstanding Prosecutor in September 2009 by the Department of Justice.
Recognizing her staunch advocacy for women and children, the City of Muntinlupa chose Elisa as one of its Outstanding Citizen in December 2015. She is a professorial lecturer at the Philippine Judicial Academy and has delivered lectures internationally and locally on laws concerning women and children. It is her passion to educate people about their rights so they can fully enjoy them, and to deter human trafficking and other crimes.
Elisa was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Founder and Director, Refuge for the Refugees
Heidy Quah is founder and director of Refuge for the Refugees, a non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness regarding the status of refugees in Malaysia as well as provide education for refugee children. Now in its fifth year, Refuge for the Refugees supports and empowers 35 refugee schools, two halfway homes, and a refugee vocational training school across Malaysia and Myanmar, ensuring and fighting for quality education for all.
In addition to raising awareness and providing education and entrepreneurship skills for refugees, Heidy works on the ground to rescue refugees from detention camps and human trafficking rings. Her work with refugees has been recognized by Queen Elizabeth II, who awarded her the Queen’s Young Leader Award in 2017.
Heidy was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Founder, TransgenderIndia.com
Neysara is a human rights activist and founder of TransgenderIndia.com. She is a strong believer in the power of awareness and knowledge as tools to help people, particularly when amplified through technology. Through her initiative, TransgenderIndia.com, she empowers thousands of transgender people across India with awareness and knowledge to make informed choices, thereby preventing them from being lured into sexual or labor trafficking in the name of culture or tradition. In India, transgender people are seen as sub-human, and trafficking of transgender people is not even considered trafficking, but a cultural tradition that is neither questioned by the state nor by the young persons that partake in it. Currently the information on the TransgenderIndia platform is translated into six major Indian languages, helping information break through socio-economic and language barriers.
Neysara also started the first ever trans-specific online discussion forum in India called “TALK”, which allows trans-people around the country to question and discuss issues about gender, life, career, and transition. “TALK” helps establish people-to-people connection between transgender people who are otherwise often isolated.
Neysara was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Counsel and First Care Responder, Guyana Women Miners Organization
For approximately three years, Shefield Shorlane Douglas has been conducting work for the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO), an organization that advocates for equality, safety, and the promotion of women in the Guyanese mining industry. The GWMO also has a Trafficking Person Committee for which Shefield is the First Care Response Person and Counselor. In these two capacities, she is responsible for assisting in the coordination of rescue, counseling, and referral of victims of trafficking and sexual assault.
Shefield has been on the forefront of countless rescue missions the organization has conducted. In addition to her work with GWMO, Shefield is a young entrepreneur and founder of Thunder Mining Company. Thunder Mining Company aims to promote sustainable economic indigenous communities by creating employment opportunities for individuals who dropped out of school and underprivileged indigenous persons in an effort to help change their individual economic situation and their communities. In addition, Shefield serves as the organization’s translator for Spanish-speaking victims of trafficking. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Guyana.
Shefield was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Recovery Manager, Challenging Heights
Pomaa Arthur is the Recovery Manager of Challenging Heights, an organization that rescues trafficked children from the Lake Volta area and promotes human rights. As Recovery Manager, Pomaa manages the organization’s rehabilitation shelter, which has a 65-person capacity, as well as the reintegration/monitoring team. Pomaa works with survivors of child trafficking and provides them with psychosocial support that helps them to overcome the trauma they have experienced while equipping them with appropriate social and literacy skills.
Pomaa also works with vulnerable women and families to provide them with parenting lessons and livelihood support to minimize trafficking in their communities. Pomaa is very passionate about and committed to promoting human rights, especially those of women and children. Pomaa is a final year guidance and counselling student at the University of Education, Winneba.
Pomaa was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Survivors' Network Cameroon
Awah Francisca Mbuli is a survivor of human trafficking and modern slavery who serves as the founder and CEO of the survivor-led anti-trafficking organization Survivors’ Network (SN) Cameroon. She has implemented numerous strategies to prevent forced labor within vulnerable communities in Cameroon. Her work is centered on a commitment to raising awareness throughout the country and around the world in partnership with media outlets and international organizations.
Francisca’s innovative programs focus on economically empowering women who are survivors of human trafficking. Among other accomplishments, she has helped rescue and reintegrate 28 female victims of human trafficking from the Gulf Corporation States to their respective Sub-Saharan African home countries. Her work has been recognized both nationally and internationally; most recently, she was awarded a 2018 TIP Hero Award from the U.S. Department of State.
Francisca was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
Ana Inés Alvarez
2018 Fellow, Social Worker and Manager, Alza La Voz and Premio Mujeres Solidarias, Avon Foundation for Women
Ana Inés Alvarez has more than 18 years of experience in the field of social work, both in the public and private sector. She has been working for Avon Foundation Argentina since 2016, where she leads the Avon Promise to Help End Violence Against Women and Girls in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, as well as the Women Solidarity Award, which recognizes and supports women who promote social development projects.
Ana was responsible for providing local support to implement the Justice Institutes on Gender-Based Violence in Argentinmailcha and Chile. She also coordinated the development of the GBV Protocol and Paid Leave for Avon female employees. By doing so, Avon became the first company in the country with this policy. Moreover, she is responsible for numerous awareness campaigns developed to end violence against woman and girls. The newest is a Virtual Reality campaign named “S.O.S ELLA: Trapped in a Violent Reality.” Ana earned a degree in social work from Buenos Aires University.
Ana was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.
2018 Fellow, Deputy Director, ARSIS Social Organization for the Support of Youth in Albania
Erjola Kaçi is the Deputy Director of ARSIS Social Organization for the Support of Youth in Albania. She has extensive experience supporting the most vulnerable, deprived and marginalized individuals and groups in her community. She has valuable experience designing and managing a variety of national and international projects focusing on children, youth, and women victims of violence and trafficking. Additionally, Erjola has managed several projects that provide consultancy services to women, children, and youth who are at risk of becoming, or currently are victims of violence, abuse, maltreatment, trafficking, neglect or exploitation.
Erjola is deeply involved in program development, project design, project implementation and advocacy with regard to women victims of violence and trafficking. She also has experience working on issues related to children and youth, ensuring their protection and promoting their rights. Erjola graduated with a degree in psychology from the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Tirana and serves as a lecturer at the University of Gjirokastra for various subjects related to psychology.
Erjola was selected as a 2018 Global Freedom Exchange Fellow.