Born to fly: from fear to freedom

ChildrenChild traffickingHuman trafficking

The Born to Fly Project is a child trafficking prevention programme that educates children and their parents about the dangers of child trafficking. A team of educators, writers, artists and child experts spent five years developing materials which others can use to organise a six-week community campaign designed to stop child trafficking. The aim is to educate children and teenagers about the lies that traffickers use – and help them to make a commitment not to be trafficked. 

Born to Fly choose not to further exploit trafficked children by showing their faces. The children you see here are not trafficked but many of them are at risk.

Children in Romania made their own butterfly wings as part of the Born to Fly programme. Photo: Born to Fly International
Children in Romania made their own butterfly wings as part of the Born to Fly programme. Photo: Born to Fly International

Children of all ages are at risk of being trafficked – young children as well as teenagers. To reach both groups, the programme suggests training teenagers to be apprentice teachers, enabling them both to engage with the materials and to help run the programme. 

Born to Fly’s curriculum for young children features a story about a caterpillar named Blossom who has a dream to fly. Participants follow her through her quest to find the ‘Moonbeam Tree’ (you can read the full story in the box on the opposite page), to help children explore issues related to trafficking. 

Born to Fly’s curriculum for teenagers is called the Dream Big Campaign; it helps teens follow their dreams in a safe way while staying safe from traffickers. This age-appropriate approach has had a great impact in the communities where it has been used. Rates of trafficking have fallen where people’s awareness has been raised. 

The materials are designed so that you can adapt them to your context, for example a school, a church or children’s club. You can also choose individual sections so that you can run a programme within a shorter period (eg two weeks or one day). They have been translated into multiple languages and have been downloaded in more than 65 countries worldwide. 

The fine line between awareness and fear 

As a teacher or facilitator, you want your students to be aware of the dangers of human trafficking, but you do not want them to live in fear. This is a fine line and as you teach you will have to watch and listen to know what your students are thinking and feeling. Here are suggestions to help you avoid frightening your children as you share about trafficking: 

  • Separate the children by age groups and be particularly careful with the youngest ones. Remember, you do not have to mention trafficking specifically with younger children. Instead you can talk about how they have choices and those choices have consequences. 
  • If children are afraid, talk with them about it. You can meet with them privately or in a group – whatever makes them feel most comfortable. Talk about what specific thoughts are making them afraid. Write down each fear and tell them you want to work with them to develop a plan they can use to make them feel safe. Look at each fear and ask for their suggestions about what would help them not be afraid. These might include going to places using a buddy system (always going to places with someone else), always letting an adult know where they are, not running off to play without telling an adult, carrying safety whistles or mobile phones. 
  • When you have to identify or warn of a danger, also share something positive such as, ‘I am so glad to be your mother [or your teacher] to help you through this. You are becoming such a brave person.’ This approach is sometimes called ‘reality therapy’. The objects, people and circumstances that create fears are real, not imaginary (even if some of the childish reactions seem extreme to adults), so the answers you give must be real as well. This will help create an environment of safety, health and freedom. That is why the Born to Fly materials teach specific behaviours that can keep children from being trafficked (making wise choices, knowing how to tell if someone is a true friend, etc). 
  • Follow up regularly with children and ask how they are doing and if they are still afraid. Create a safe and regular place where they feel comfortable talking with you about their fears.  

Adapted from Born to Fly materials. Used with permission. 

Storytime

Trafficking is a sensitive issue and may be difficult to talk about directly, particularly with younger children. Born to Fly uses a story about a caterpillar called Blossom who has a dream to fly, which you can read below. It introduces important issues to this young age group. You might want to use it or even make up your own story.

Each child receives a certificate when they complete the programme. Photo: Born to Fly International
Each child receives a certificate when they complete the programme. Photo: Born to Fly International

Popi tells Blossom and Max the story of why there is only one remaining Moonbeam Tree in the world – hidden far away in the High Hills where no-one has ever gone before. Blossom dreams of finding it, but Popi says she is not ready and must finish school first. Against Popi’s wishes, Blossom secretly leaves her village to pursue her dream. In this strange new world she must learn how to tell real friends from the evil Dream Thieves who try to steal everyone’s dreams. 

At first she can tell the difference, but soon she trusts the Dream Thieves, who quickly kidnap her. During her captivity, she realises the mistakes she made. She realises: 

  1. choices have consequences, 
  2. she must know who her true friends are, 
  3. she is unique, valuable and worth loving, 
  4. in following her dream she must be patient, work hard and wait for the right time, and 
  5. she is born to fly and must not settle for less. 

Blossom escapes from the Dream Thieves but is horrified to see wings sprouting from her back. Sadly she returns to her village in shame without the Moonbeam seeds. 

Popi tells her she can try to find the Moonbeam Tree again but only after she finishes school. This time Blossom listens and after she graduates she leaves on her second trip, well prepared. Once again she encounters friends and enemies, but this time she is ready. Using her new wings to fly, she conquers the evil Dream Thieves, finds the Moonbeam Tree, and brings back seeds for everyone in her village. Blossom’s dream has come true.

Exploring the story 

Here is an outline of the sessions which Born to Fly uses to explore Blossom’s story. 

Session 1: Choices have consequences. 

  • How can knowing this keep you safe and keep you from being trafficked? 
  • How is waiting an important part of making choices? 
  • What bad choice did Blossom make? 

Session 2: Know who your true friends are. 

  • How can knowing this keep you safe and keep you from being trafficked? 
  • Can you think of someone you know who may not be a true friend? 
  • What is unconditional love? 
  • How do friends show this? 

Session 3: You are unique, valuable and worth loving.

  • What does it mean to be unique? 
  • What does it mean to be valuable? 
  • What is more valuable: you or a rock? 
  • You or a pair of shoes? 
  • You or a mobile phone? 
  • How can knowing that you are valuable keep you from being trafficked? 

Session 4: Be patient, work hard and wait for the right time. 

  • What are you waiting for? 
  • What dream do you want to work hard to achieve? 
  • Are you being patient enough whilst waiting for your dream to become reality? 

Session 5: You were born to fly. Don’t settle for less. 

  • What does it mean ‘to fly’? 
  • How did Blossom settle for less in the story? 
  • How have you settled for less? 
  • Blossom had a dream: to fly. 
  • What is your dream? 
  • What good choices can you make to follow your dream? 

‘Storytime’ and ‘Exploring the story’ taken directly from the Born to Fly curriculum, © 2010 Born to Fly International. Used with permission. 

Article adapted from Born to Fly materials. With thanks to Diana Scimone, President of Born to Fly. 

You can find out more about Born to Fly’s resources on the Resources page (page 7). 

You can contact the organisation by emailing info@born2fly.org or by writing to Born to Fly, PO Box 952949, Lake Mary FL 32795, USA. 

Website: http://born2fly.org