The 2019 Asia Regional Anti-Trafficking Conference in Review
Over the course of four days at the end of February, 230 service providers and stakeholders from 23 different countries attended the second Asia Regional Anti Trafficking (ARAT) conference. Again, it was hosted and organized in partnership by both Chab Dai and Stop the Traffik Australia. The purpose is to develop multi-sector learning and partnerships to improve responses to the issues of human trafficking and exploitation across the Asia region.
Conference participants were able to engage with speakers and collaborate with each other. This was accomplished through Q&A with the speakers and other leaders in the field, through scheduling dinners and early morning yoga sessions on the handy conference app, catching up with old and new friends over lunch, and congregating around the very popular La Mesa pop-up coffee stand during the coffee breaks. In the courtyard, attendees enjoyed their coffee and snacks as they shopped at the four freedom businesses booths.
The conference was opened by Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps. Vu brought energy and levity, but an honesty many who work in NGOs and nonprofits found refreshing, with one attendee said, “[Vu] was great! I appreciate how he kept it light but also addressed serious issues in the nonprofit world and championed collaboration.” Others who presented: Archana Kotecha, from Liberty Shared, presented on the challenges and opportunities within the legal system; Troy Anderson, from Speak Up for the Poor, spoke on Forced Marriage; and Gershon Nimbalker presented on workers voice. A full list of speakers and resources can be found here.
The conference was also interspersed with breakout sessions. During this hour and a half, those attending could choose one of four different sessions to sit in on. Breakout rooms consisted of between a dozen to fifty attendees, allowing for a more in-depth conversation of different topics, such as Slavery in the Supply Chain, Staff Care, and Monitoring & Evaluation. One attendee shared: “I absolutely loved the workshops I attended. I was very impressed and felt like I was both affirmed in what I already knew and challenged to consider new ways of approaching things.”
ARAT is designed to bring as many multi-sector partners within the anti-trafficking movement under one roof. When practitioners from legal, finance, business, prevention, aftercare, research, and advocacy come together to learn from each other, we become better equipped in our joint mission against slavery and exploitation.