Interview with Lerina Bright, Founder of Mission 89

We spoke to Lerina Bright, founder of Mission 89, which is a research, education, and advocacy organization that fights the exploitation of young athletes through social and economic transformation.

What inspired you to set up Mission 89 and what has been a key achievement as an organisation?

The inspiration came because there was a need for it. My background is in sport administration, so for many years I worked in the sport field, football associations, Olympic committees and sporting federations. During the time that I was present in these organisations, there was very little talk about child welfare, let alone trafficking. It was a huge shock to me to learn about this form of exploitation and encouraged me to do research and reach out to survivors, journalists and documentists. I found that there was a vacuum and this was an issue that needed more visibility. This was how Mission 89 came about.

Achievement has been progressive due to our young nature and being set up in 2017. However, within this short period, we have had a significant impact because 3 to 4 years ago there was little being spoken about on this subject. Comparably, if you go to the large governing bodies now, they are aware of Mission 89 and know our mandate. The awareness of trafficking through sport has progressively grown, and towards the end of last year, the tune has changed and people are aware and feel a responsibility to stop it.

Achievement is also reflected through the partnerships we have established, which speaks to the acceptance and recognition of our work. For example, we have formal and informal partnerships. Our formal partnerships include the IOM, the UN migration in Egypt and a safety partnership with Facebook (due to the number of grooming processes that start on social media platforms). We have done work with Good Cooperation UK and are now working together with CPA UK to sensitise and educate parliamentarians. Overall, I think our achievements are not just seen through the impact but also through our partnerships and the people that support our work. 

What is Modern Slavery through sport in the context of the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2022?

Simply put, it is promising false opportunities to young people that want to either compete at the games, want to provide services, help with the development of infrastructure, hospitality and transportation. It is false opportunities and the exploitation of peoples dreams and aspirations to be close to the games, either through participation or a service. 

What do you hope to achieve when partnering with CPA UK and raising awareness of this issue across the Commonwealth?

Our ultimate goal is to see legislative change and therefore CPA UK is the perfect partner as they work directly with parliamentarians who ultimately have the potential to advocate for change. Through the campaign and the workshops we will collaboratively create, I imagine it is the beginning of seeing legislative change, where laws are protecting the dreams of aspiring athletes and protect citizens from exploitation. 


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