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Trafficking survivor honored with Human Rights Hero Award at UN

Indian-American labor trafficking survivor and activist Harold D’Souza was honored with the Human Right Hero Award 2023 during the 17th Annual International Human Rights Youth Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York on July 6.

This year’s summit celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and featured international speakers including D’Souza, and panel discussions, workshops, and presentations from international delegates. The title of this year’s Summit was: Imagine: Equality, Dignity, Unity – Youth making it a Reality.

In his speech, D’Souza said every child born on this planet should be taught the 30 articles of human rights.

Every person is entitled to certain rights – simply because they are human beings. They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do, or to have. There are 30 rights and they are contained in a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created in 1948 by the United Nations.

“Every delegate sitting in the audience is my true hero,” D’Souza added.

D’Souza also thanked Dr. Mary Shuttleworth President, Youth for Human Rights International for recognizing, respecting, and rewarding survivors.

D’Souza came to the US following the advice and encouragement of a man who would become his trafficker. For over 18 months, Harold was exploited at the hands of the human trafficker, losing his freedom and struggling to keep his family safe.

Today, he is a survivor-advocate and public speaker. His experience has given him a new purpose and meaning in life. D’Souza is the co-founder of Eyes Open International, a non-profit focused on developing prevention efforts through survivor-informed research. Today, Eyes Open International is an inspiration worldwide.

D’Souza also sits on the Board of Directors for ‘Justice at Last’ and remains active in local anti-trafficking organizations and efforts. He is also the Advisory Council Ambassador for the Ohio Attorney General’s Trafficking Commission and a member of the Survivor Advisory Council at ‘Collaborative to End Human Trafficking’ organization.

Former President Obama appointed D’Souza to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in 2015, and he has continued his service under President Trump through July 2020. He is also an expert consultant to the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Patti Tripathi, Founder of Saris to Suits, an Atlanta-based charity said she was incredibly proud of D’Souza’s effort to raise greater awareness to end labor trafficking after what he endured with his family. The activist was the guest of honor at the Sari Run event organized by Saris to Suits in May.

Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha, the current bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mangalore also shared his delight at the recognition.

Sister Lillita Lewis, General Councilor & Secretary, Bethany said she is proud of D’Souza and appreciated his service to humanity.

This prestigious event was attended by top delegates from 46 Countries.

Paresh Patel said the story of Harold’s journey from dishwashing to Washington D.C. is inspiring.

D’Souza, who is originally from Mangaluru, in India, is now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. He flipped the script of his life from slavery to activism, hurt to happiness, fear to freedom, poverty to prosperity, failure to fame, and from being zero to the ‘Human Rights Hero Award 2023’.

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