SILENT WALK More than 130 people took part in the A21 Walk for Freedom in Whakatane last weekend. Photo Paula Massey D9104-054

MORE than 130 people turned out in Whakatane last Saturday for a silent walk to abolish slavery in the 21st century.

They were part of an international Walk For Freedom event that took place in 450 towns globally, and seven towns around New Zealand to raise awareness of modern day slavery.

Organiser Debs McPherson says she is really pleased with the turnout, especially considering the torrential rain earlier in the day.

She says people who took part found it very powerful. “It’s actually really hard to walk in silence. We’re not often silent, so It gave people time to reflect on human trafficking and also about slavery.

WOKE YOUTH: Soloman McConnell, 12, and Mylee Mathews, 6, were among the younger participants in the Walk for Freedom, which was represented by participants from all age groups. D9104-009

“Also people said that seeing people’s reactions around town was interesting, in terms of people watching and thinking, ‘What is this all about’. Raising awareness is what it is all about.”

The walk is in aid of the international group A21, which stands for Abolishing slavery in the 21st Century. Besides raising awareness the group works to rescue people from slavery and prosecute the traffickers.

As well as fundraising throughout the year for these activities the group also promotes buying Fair Trade and other ethically sourced products and second hand goods.

They also recommend people checking out the Tear Fund’s ethical fashion guide. To find out more about the Whakatane group visit their Facebook page @WalkforFreedomWhakatane.

To find out more about A21 visit a21.org.