Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It's the second-largest industry in the world, a bigger business than drug trafficking. It is often used to fund the arms and drug trade. An estimated 29.8 million adults and children are being used for the sex trade and forced labor right now across the world.

Several years ago Lake Forest resident Lorraine Dillon became so concerned about this growing problem that she decided to do something about it. She is now president of Right To Be Free, a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises funds for the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking, primarily children in Ghana, West Africa.

The organization also raises awareness of human trafficking by giving presentations to local community groups and schools, and Lorraine spoke to our club today.


Lorraine's organization works through its field partner, Right To Be Free, an NGO in Ghana, supporting their efforts to rescue and rehabilitate child laborers, their community outreach programs that directly address human trafficking, and their collaboration with various government and social agencies that are directly involved in policy making and anti-trafficking activities.

In Ghana, as in many places, traffickers use deceptive practices to convince parents to give up their children, preying on parents' desire for better jobs and a better life for their children. Lorraine visited Ghana in 2008 to accompany her partner organization on a rescue mission to find children working on fishing boats and negotiate with the fishermen for their release. The children then spend 6 months or more in a reintegration center.

Lorraine showed a video documentary of her trip; disturbingly, children as young as 5 were being forced to work under sometimes brutal conditions. The video documented their negotiated rescue and reintegration and reinforced the message that every child rescued has the right and the potential to live a free, fulfilling life.