Madison Free ‘15 graduated with the Global Scholars Initiative seal on her Shorecrest diploma. Pursuing the GSI track allowed Madi the opportunity to explore her interest in international studies, a pursuit she still follows wholeheartedly at The College of William & Mary where she is now enrolled.
For her GSI project, a requirement for the rigorous Shorecrest program, Madi founded Globally Free
, a non-profit foundation dedicated to making a difference in the lives of human trafficking victims by preventing incidents through awareness and education, removing victims from their situations, and facilitating the rehabilitation of trafficked individuals.
"I read a memoir called 'Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution'. It’s about a girl who went on vacation in Italy, met a guy, they become friends, and after a few months he forced her into prostitution. She was not a high-risk person, she came from a nice background, she was in college. She was so similar to me, with blonde hair and blue eyes, she even went to private school.”
After the book hit home, Madi started researching human trafficking for her GSI project. That’s when she learned that the Tampa Bay area is the fourth most prominent area for human trafficking in the United States.
“My mom had been reading about the topic along with me, and we both came across the problem at the same time, and I knew I wanted to focus on this for GSI. My mom helped me with the legal paperwork to create a real non-profit.” Globally Free (a play on Madi’s last name and the essential human right of freedom) was born.
Madi has come face to face with the realities of the legal system when it comes to helping these women. “If you are a minor and are rescued from human trafficking, the Department of Children and Families will help find care for you. If you’re a [trafficked] drug addict who is rescued, the state can put you in rehab or a hospital. But for a legal adult who’s not an addict, the state can’t do anything to help these survivors. Some of the rescued women have a GED, some need a lot of therapy before they can live alone. They’ve had everything stolen from them and nowhere to go.”
On Friday, November 6, Globally Free will host Guiding Light, a benefit for Selah Freedom
, their mission partner. Madi invites the Shorecrest community to attend this community event for an important cause.
According to Madi, “I want the Shorecrest community to know that slavery exists in the form of human trafficking right on Fourth Street. I want them to know there are organizations that are doing something about it. By supporting Globally Free, it’s something they can do to make a difference in the lives of these girls.”