Richard Dunwoody, founder of the Seeds of Hope Survivor’s Fund for persons escaping human trafficking, spoke at the 2023 Bridging the Barriers conference. Bridging the Barriers has been presented by the Women’s Trucking Federation Canada since 2018.
Dunwoody, a retired banking professional, recruited a team of financial experts who have assisted him in working to free survivors of human trafficking from debt, and find them a safe place to live while they rebuild their lives.
“We thought most people would need about two years, to get on their feet and rebuild their lives,” he told the packed room. “On average, it is taking them 9 to 12 months….they are brilliant, and they work so hard.”
He used his September 21st presentation to explain to the audience of Trucking industry professionals how hard some of the young people that get coerced into human trafficking activities have to work to get free of their tormentors. “The average age is 14,” he said. “The youngest I’ve met was 10 years old.”
Dunwoody and Seeds of Hope are working to dispell the myths that victims are “problem children from vulnerable communities.”
“They are taken from neighbourhoods and schools (high schools, colleges, and universities) from every economic class,” their website explains. “Once our children they became a commodity, they are bought by our fellow community members.
“Post exploitation, their victimization continues. Unable to access safe and affordable housing they remain at risk. Having generated hundreds of thousands of dollars each year taken by their trafficker they are denied funding for post secondary education programs.
The Concord Adex Survivors fund has been provided long term sustainable housing in 4 communities across Ontario. Entering post secondary programs in law, business, psychology, social work, and trades. Their grades place them at the top of their classmates.”