"Call to action" a CNN panel
Thanks to CNN for inviting me here today.
The name of this panel, 'A call to action' - is exactly the message i would like to convey here today. I have been blessed with the opportunity of pursuing a career (voluntarily), from a very young age that i am passionate about and believe in. My career has allowed me to travel the planet and throughout my journey I have seen a lot of beautiful things and met a lot of amazing people, but unfortunately, I have also witnessed injustices, pain, poverty, and desolation.
In my heart I always knew these things were wrong. Yet, it was not until I visited india and helped rescue three little girls from the street that were about to be forced into prostitution that I felt the need to speak my mind.
At that point, I couldn't stand on the side-lines, witnessing the suffering of children. I decided to take advantage of the visibility that my career in music had given me to try and raise awareness. Listen guys, luckily, I have had the opportunity to a lot of interviews and I want to use my voice to create some consciousness. I decided to do whatever I had to do to help the children of the world. What I hope is that my presence here today will not only explain what I am doing, but much more importantly, that it can inspire others to also take action on behalf of the kids because what this world truly needs is more people, from all walks of life, to join me in this battle of love.
The sad reality is... In today's society, extreme poverty, dissension, and ecological problems are out of hand! These are the factors directly affecting our children's rights. As i mentioned, i could not simply stand aside knowing that. So, i created the Ricky Martin Foundation.
And what is our mission?...well, its very simple. To alert people that such problems exist and then, find solutions. And I believe that repetition is the key to success. So thats what I meant about doing a lot of interviews...I will talk about music, but you know I will also find a way to talk about the children's needs.
I based my foundation, that has global outreach, in puerto rico, where i come from. I'm starting at home, but these issues are happening in every corner of the world and we'll find a way to get there.....let me tell you what's going on....
Human trafficking is one of the cruelest and craziest problems in the world today.
* more than one million children enter the sex trade each year, forced into pornography and prostitution.
The top three issues that are facing society today are:
1. Arms trafficking, which is the most lucrative.
2. Drug trafficking, which is a close second.
3. And child trafficking, which is third.
But there is a difference. Arms, you recycle...drugs you use once..
Children are being bought and used sexually twenty times a day. All around the world. This is affecting everyone...it could be happening in your town, your community and your country. Right now! Something needs to be done for the children's well being and together we can do it. Since the Ricky Martin Foundation was created one year ago, I have had many talks with governments, experts and advocates, in order to get a holistic idea of what can be done. Here are some things i am happy to say we have accomplished.
* We created a series of psa's to alert people to the problems that face the world's children and thanks
To the inter american bank, I am pleased to announce that they are being distributed throughout Latin America and they are raising the consciousness of millions.
* Together with the UN, I have asked governments to take legislative action and show strong, concrete commitment to combat trafficking.
* Alliances with organizations such as ecpat have also been very important as they work, day to day, at a grass-roots level, investigating the scope of the issues, assisting victims, and, putting the pressure where it needs to be placed, in sectors such as the travel industry. The salvation army is another entity I am allied with actively working in locations around the world to combat trafficking.
* The ricky Martin Foundation, in our commitment towards action, will be providing an effective nation-wide instrument that anybody with access to a phone can use. Its a hotline that we are setting up in collaboration with the rescue and restore project implemented by the department of health and human services (HHS) and the more than 500 local coalitions and organizations it works with. The social and legal response a hotline can provide is essential and it gives positive results.
But ultimately, the response and solution comes from the individual and the community. This is why educating ourselves first, and then our communities is extremely important.
I congratulate the local and international organizations that have become true allies in this battle. I want to invite other organizations and individuals alike to find out what they can do because:
* laws need to be enforced,
* attitudes and practices need to be changed,
* children need to become aware,
* the media must inform, and
* resources and services need to be directed towards reintegration and
Clearly, there is much work that needs to be done and alliances across sectors are key for this to occur. Since none of us can do it alone, I believe in alliances. If what we want is to go after the highest levels of authority, then we must have an intelligent plan...and we must work together to achieve our goals. The ngo's, the private sector, individual activists and everyone with the pulse.
So now, changing subjects...let me talk about the tsunami for a couple of minutes... Of course we were all deeply affected by this natural disaster. As I explained earlier, my foundation's mission is to protect children and, unfortunately, the children of the world are not exempt from natural disasters and their consequences. The tsunami is the most catastrophic event of our collective memory.
When I saw the images on television I simply could not stay home. Immediately I jumped on a plane and went to Thailand. I went to the region of Phang Gna and met with the victims. Nothing could have prepared me for what i saw when i got there. I realized I needed to do whatever I could to take children who had lost everything off the streets and protect them from the traffickers that were taking advantage of the vulnerability of the kids to go on with their crimes.
Six months after the tsunami, not only in Thailand but in all of the affected areas, there are thousands of children who lost one or both parents and are still living alone, barely surviving with the little that they have.
After meeting with the prime minister of Thailand, and local and international NGO's, I am extremely pleased to announce that the Ricky Martin Foundation has entered into a formal agreement with Habitat for Humanity, which former president Jimmy Carter, amongst others is a great supporter of. Together we have already begun construction of 224 homes, as part of a 3 million dollar project extending over several years to provide homes for over 1000 families.
If we are talking about protection, about not being vulnerable to disease, to trafficking, and so many other possible effects of living without a rooftop, then the provision of homes, it seemed to me, was the first and most elementary line of defense. Our work in the tsunami affected areas is still in the early stages, the healing process is very slow, and there is of course a lot to be done, but what exists now is hope...
If we can spend $446 billion dollars on advertising every year (half of that in the US alone) and, $35 billion annually on bottled water, then I think that the $19 billion needed to end hunger and malnutrition or the $1.3 billion that can immunize every child of the world could easily be gathered, if governments, organizations, the private sector and individuals all came together for a common purpose.
It is shocking, but true, that for less than what people spend annually on makeup, ice cream, and pet food we could provide adequate food, clean water, and basic education for the all of the worlds poorest. What I am trying to explain here is that we can act and make a difference if we see how interconnected our world ad the problems affecting it really are.
I encourage all of the media present to also take on these issues and declare them to the world as news. Because your power and strength, similar to mine, lies in your visibility. The images you present create the reality people believe exists.
This panel consists of amazing individuals who, through their many missions, are already taking action. If we join forces and commit ourselves to revealing the ugly truth to people, the people will react and the Governments will inevitably have to take action.
Together we can accomplish anything.
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