Born2Fly president Diana Scimone in front of the photo that changed her life
The photo that changed a life
Stopping child trafficking...setting kids free to soar
It was May 2001 and journalist Diana Scimone was on assignment in Mumbai, India, writing an article about forced prostitution of women. Early one Saturday evening her contact took her through Mumbai's red-light district, one of the largest in Asia. He pointed to a second-floor window and asked if she could see the cages in it.
“Cages?” she repeated with horror. “What’s in them?”
Diana wanted to throw up. As a journalist she'd been to dozens of countries covering everything from starving refugees in Sudan to people living under the brutal dictatorship in Zimbabwe to throw-away babies abandoned at an orphanage in China.
She had seen a lot — but never cages that held little girls.
Her contact went on to tell her that these little girls are smuggled across the border from Nepal into India, and held in cages for 30 days. They’re raped, tortured, starved, and urinated on until they no longer have a will to rebel or run away.
Only then are they fit to be sold as child sex slaves.
The contact said Diana could take a picture but not to let the pimps see her or they'd take her camera.
"I got my photo," Diana says, "and I call it the photo that changed my life because I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd seen." Diana learned there are millions of girls like the ones in those cages. They’re raped for profit 30 or 40 times a night — night after night after night. They're not just in India and Nepal, but all over the world including in every city in the United States.
In 2003 Diana founded a non-profit organization to respond to some of the most critical needs she had seen among the world’s children. Two years later, that organization became Born2Fly and began to focus solely on stopping the worldwide horror of child sex trafficking.
In the mid 2000s, the few anti-trafficking organizations that existed were focused on rescuing victims -- absolutely necessary but Diana believed at the same time we had to also cut off the supply-line of children or we'd never stop the traffic.
Her goal was to reach kids before the traffickers ever did. She assembled a team of educators, illustrators, and designers and created a wordless book (wordless so that kids anywhere in the world could read it) and companion curriculum, which was translated into 10 languages.
Today the Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking is taught all over the world. More than 800 organizations have registered to teach this powerful curriculum in 65 countries, and Born2Fly has become the global leader in community-based prevention programming. Countless children have been saved from trafficking. We really are reaching kids before the traffickers do.
“As a member of the House of Lords, I launched the global initiative to fight human trafficking at the United Nations and led the campaign for ratification of the UN Treaty on Human Trafficking. From this perspective, I can assure you that Born2Fly is not just a ‘good’ idea. It is a well-planned, targeted strategy that will make a significant, measureable difference in this worldwide pandemic.”
--Baroness Mary T. Goudie, member, House of Lords, England
“The Born2Fly Project will be a useful tool in educating at-risk children and communities. This project will aid in the prevention of child sex trafficking and exploitation, creating a world where children are free to be children.”
--Rob Morris, president and co-founder, Love146
“I have witnessed the suffering and injustice that characterize life in many cities and communities around the world. Born2Fly is an appropriate and encouraging response that puts feet to our convictions in the arena of social justice.”
--Stephen Richardson, president, Pioneers
“International Crisis Aid’s work takes us to some of the most remote and dangerous places on this planet. Those who suffer the most are children. Born2Fly is an absolutely critical project that will help stop child sex trafficking.”
--Patrick Bradley, president, International Crisis Aid
“Diana Scimone has traveled with us to China and seen first-hand the plight of many of our children. Born2Fly beautifully embodies her passion, giving us a foundation that helps children around the world.”
--David J. Gotts, executive director, International China Concern