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The Mekong Club to raise international awareness of modern slavery through their annual Sweatshop Simulation Challenge as seen on CNN

October 13th, 2022
The Mekong Club to raise international awareness of modern slavery through their annual Sweatshop Simulation Challenge as seen on CNN

The Mekong Club is a leading global nonprofit organization collaborating with the private sector to implement sustainable practices to eliminate modern slavery globally.


The Mekong Club will hold its annual Sweatshop Simulation Challenge – as seen on CNN – for private sector representatives and international schools in March 2023 in Hong Kong. Participants will experience “forced labour” firsthand to help raise awareness about modern slavery and how it exists globally and to raise funding to end this global scourge. The Mekong Club’s CEO, Matt Friedman, will host this harrowing simulation that has powerfully impacted countless corporates and students over the years.


The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) recent report has estimated that partly due to the Pandemic 10 million more people have fallen victim to modern slavery in the last five years on top of the 40 million from the previous report, an alarming increase in the number of global victims that will only continue to rise if societies fail to work together on this issue.


The Mekong Club’s end-of-year awareness-raising activities aim to bring international awareness of modern slavery – forced labour, debt bondage and human trafficking – generates more than US$150 billion a year for criminals.


During the Sweatshop Challenge, participants will spend consecutive hours performing a painfully repetitive action in the forced labour simulation – putting nuts on bolts and taking them off and on again and again. Participants will not be allowed to stop for food, water, or rest. If they do not perform quickly enough, they will be chastised and “punished”.


Before the simulation, participants will raise much-needed funds to help end forced labour by asking their supporters to donate money for each hour they are able to endure in the Sweatshop Challenge. The Mekong Club encourages each participant’s coworkers, friends, and family to attend and support them.

Once the simulation has finished, participants will join a feedback session to reflect on their emotions during the challenge and what it would feel like to work 365 days a year under duress for no pay. Everyone is encouraged share their Sweatshop Challenge experience on social media using the hashtag #SweatshopChallenge to raise vital awareness.



Testimonials from participants in past Sweatshop Challenges


“It was an opportunity for me to help my child understand how important every small thing in life is. It is very difficult to know and to feel that pain while sitting here unless we go through it,” said Prisha Malhotra’s family, who participated in a Sweatshop Challenge in 2021.


“I think we should take more care when we are buying items such as clothes and maybe invest in more sustainable and fair-trade items,” said Scarlet Casey, a previous participant in Sweatshop Challenge.


“To avoid more people being trafficked, we need to ensure that there is awareness-raising on the topic, prevention messages being offered, and systems and procedures developed to protect vulnerable people,” said Matt Friedman, CEO of The Mekong Club.


By hosting our Sweatshop Challenge, we hope to raise more global awareness of the issue and to collaborate with the private sector, schools and civil society groups to put an end to modern slavery.


Notes to editors:


About The Mekong Club

The Mekong Club is a nonprofit organization addressing modern slavery through a “business-to-business” approach. The Club, which bridges the public and private sectors, assists companies of all sizes globally in understanding the complexities of modern slavery and sharing best practices consistently. The Mekong Club collaborates with its members to develop innovative and strategic tools and projects to achieve a slave-free world.


Founded in 2012, The Mekong Club has scaled its business association with major global brands working together to address this hidden issue caused by criminals operating in company supply chains. The Club’s approach help brands understand the complexities of weeding out criminal activity by convening in industry-specific working groups, where members discuss modern slavery trends, challenges, share best-practice, and inform the Mekong Club’s work by requesting and contributing to anti-slavery tools and resources.


For press enquiries, please contact Caterina at [email protected]