TIFFIN — In 2003, Harold D’Souza relocated his family to the U.S. from their native India in search of the American dream. He had been promised a $75,000 job at a manufacturing company that never materialized.
Over the next 19 months, Harold, his wife, Dancy and their two young sons lived a nightmare. He and Dancy were forced to work 15-hour days at a Cincinnati restaurant for no pay. Indebted to the restaurant owner, they also endured horrible living conditions in their home.
Fortunately, with the help of law enforcement and the support of non-profit and community organizations, the D’Souza family was able to break free, escaping from the restaurant owner and eventually securing the American dream they longed for.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, labor trafficking is a fundamental violation of human rights and a modern-day form of slavery. While sex trafficking is prevalent in our area, overall forced labor occurs at about three times as frequently as sex trafficking globally.
The D’Souzas were victims of labor trafficking. On Monday (Jan. 23), they will share their story, “From Modern Day Slavery to the White House,” with the Heidelberg University community as part of
the university’s fourth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Week. Their presentation will take place at 6 p.m. in Wickham Great Hall. The community is invited, free of charge.
Unlike many others, the D’Souzas’ story has a happy ending. Today, Harold De’Souza is successful in his job as a senior supply chain associate at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he has worked for six years. He was recently appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Advisory council on Human Trafficking. He participated in a survivor forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime Human Trafficking Survivor Forum and helped formulate the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States.
The Heidelberg student organization Berg STOP is coordinating the keynote speaker and a series of events during Human Trafficking Awareness Week. While on campus, D’Souza also will meet with students who plan to study abroad about staying safe while traveling internationally. Students also will hear from an expert on recognizing the signs of human trafficking and participate in a film screening and panel discussion about the topic.