We posed a few questions to Kelly, one of the founders and CEO of Justice For Youth. Kelly is a busy man who travels extensively and has a lot of responsibilities, and we appreciate him taking the time to give some candid answers.
JFY: Tell us briefly about yourself.
Kelly: I am married and have two children. My wife is from the USA and I am from Canada. We currently live in Eastern Europe.
JFY: When did the vision of Justice For Youth first begin to germinate, and what finally brought you to the point of launching it?
Kelly: In 2005, we started to hear of the growing problem of trafficking in Eastern Europe and began to do some research into human trafficking statistics. After reading the book, The Natashas and visiting some related web sites, we became horrified and knew that something had to be done to stop modern day slavery. We learned that some of these young people were even kidnapped off the streets and had to ask ourselves, ‘what would we do if that was our child?’ Justice for Youth was born.
JFY: With so many organizations focused on human trafficking and poverty today, why start another one? And why Justice For Youth?
Kelly: If you compare the number of organizations to the need, you would see that we are all still scratching the surface. It’s like a farmer trying to till 1000 acres of land with one hoe! The problem is growing and Justice for Youth was created to bring hope to children and youth at risk around the world.
JFY: If you were given a blank piece of paper and told that whatever you wrote on it for Justice For Youth would become true in 5 years, what would you write?
Kelly: I would love to see modern day slavery reduced to a low percentage in Eastern Europe with strict laws enforced for offenders. I would also like to see this campaign be so in the forefront of society that it becomes no longer a secret and ill-informed social evil. Of course, I would also like to see hope for orphaned children through quality homes, new families and innovative education that prepares them not just for life but for success in life!
I would like to see a lot of things and I do believe that millions of children and youth will be influenced by our projects— but I would also do all of this for just one child if I knew we could save that child from the horror of trafficking, a life-long battle with HIV/AIDS, a homeless childhood or the damaging effects of poverty!
JFY: Is there any particular story or encounter that has particular meaning to you in relation to the vision of Justice For Youth?
Kelly: A number of years ago, my wife and I visited an orphanage in Western Ukraine and learned that they were receiving $1 per child per month from the government. The facilities were run down, the children were dirty and the food was scarce. We began to ask ourselves, what can be done? Secondly, during the last 5 years, I have traveled to a number of countries across Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East and have noticed young, single, attractive girls on the flights who’s faces seemed cold and eye’s frightened. I knew that these girls were being trafficked but I didn’t know what to do about it. Now I know and I believe that a movement of JFYers around the world can, together, make a difference in the lives of many, many young people.
JFY: What would you say, if you could, to a young person trapped in the vice-grip of human trafficking and the slave trades of our day?
Kelly: There is hope! You are not alone! Give me your hand.
JFY: What would you say to someone who would like to help but doesn’t know what to do?
Kelly: Please join us in the cause for Justice for Youth. There is strength in numbers. We can do this together through networking, petitioning, giving, building, educating, caring. Slavery, homelessness and poverty can be defeated when we all stand together and do our part. What’s your part?