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A year ago, a photograph of two child slaves in Nepal carrying stone blocks on their backs had troubled an 8-year-old girl, Vivienne Harr.
The California girl thought about those boys, two brothers enslaved in the Himalayas, who were her own age. Their plight moved her to start a lemonade stand and raise money to free those slaves.
On Saturday, Vivienne, now 9, made a joint appearance with Lisa Kristine, who had photographed those boys, as they highlighted their shared mission against modern-day slavery.
Kristine, a San Francisco photographer, described her work chronicling slaves in Ghana, India and Nepal at a photography conference by Snap! Orlando. Vivienne, meanwhile, is set to launch her own bottled drink, Make a Stand Lemon-Aid, building on the success of her lemonade stand, which raised $800,000.
“I want to thank you for the photograph because it changed my life,” the little girl said to Kristine. “I just feel like you don’t have to be someone big and powerful. You can be someone like me. You can help no matter who you are.”
Ten years ago, Kristine didn’t know modern-day slavery existed, despite her career in photographing remote indigenous peoples around the world. In 2009, her work was featured at a world peace summit and she met leaders of Free the Slaves, an international group dedicated to freeing and rehabilitating such slaves.
“There are 27 million people enslaved and that’s a conservative figure,” Kristine said. “How could this atrocity be happening?”
She returned to several locations, working with abolitionists, to photograph woman trapped in brothels in India and young men and woman forced in dangerous labors. In India, she took photos of villagers, young and old, at a brick kiln, lugging 20 four-pound bricks on their backs for 18 hours a day.
In Ghana, she met young children at Lake Volta, where they spend their days and nights hauling hundreds of pounds of fish. She ventured deep down into illegal gold mines, where miners spend two or three days in hot, dangerous, unsafe mine shafts.
And she displayed her work in Nepal with young boys forced to carry granite boulders down from quarries in the Himalayas. The rock usually heavier than the boys’ own body weight.
She wanted these photographs to show how slavery exists today and to move others to action. “If we can truly see them as our fellow human beings, it would be difficult to accept an atrocity like slavery,” she said.
It had its intended effect on Vivienne, who decided to make and sell lemonade, with a goal of raising $150,000 for organizations that help to free slaves.
“I just thought it was wrong and I had to help,” Vivienne explained.
She far exceeded that goal and is set to launch a bottled version of the lemonade, which will be available online at makeastandlemonade.com, and will be sold at several grocery chains in the west coast, said Vivienne’s father, Eric Harr.
Proceeds from the lemonade sales will be directed towards non-governmental organizations already involved in freeing slaves and helping them find safer livelihoods.
Despite the deeply troubling conditions for these slaves, Kristine was hopeful for their future. “I really believe we can make a change,” she said. “It’s that torch that I carry.”