Creative Associates Grantee Honored by Secretary of State Clinton

Photos by: Alexandra Pratt, Creative Associates

June 16, 2009
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announces the release of the 2009 Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. According to the Secretary of State, "trafficking has a broad global impact as well. It weakens legitimate economies, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, shatters families, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. And it is an affront to our basic values and our fundamental belief that all people everywhere deserve to live and work in safety and dignity.”

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2009—A Creative Associates International, Inc. grantee, Vera Lesko of the Vatra Center in Albania, was honored today by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton upon the release of the State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Ms. Lesko, a pioneer in the fight against human trafficking in Albania, was one of nine Trafficking In Persons Heroes recognized by the Secretary of State.

Charito Kruvant, Creative’s President and CEO, said “Vera is a truly courageous leader. Her leadership, commitment to excellence and caring have made a genuine difference in the lives of women and girls who are victims or targets of human trafficking crimes.”

Secretary of State Clinton underscored that “The ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report sheds light on the faces of modern-day slavery and on new facets of this global problem. The human trafficking phenomenon affects virtually every country, including the United States.” The Vatra Center is the first organization in Albania to work with human trafficking victims. Ms. Lesko was honored in 2003 for her innovative work in Albania with Anti-Slavery International’s Anti-Slavery Award.

Creative began supporting Ms. Lesko’s work in 2004 under a USAID-funded project awarded through a competitive procurement. The Albania Initiative: Coordinated Action Against Human Trafficking (CAAHT) has funded 22 local organizations to implement more than 40 projects combating trafficking of Albanian women and children. Ms. Lesko’s work began in Vlora, a city of 60,000 in southwest Albania and a major gateway for traffickers who ferry their victims to Italian ports. After conducting 500 interviews with politicians, community representatives and trafficked girls, Ms. Lesko came to the stunning realization that human trafficking was widely practiced in Vlora. She began working to support otherwise isolated victims of trafficking directly. On one occasion, a local trafficker she reported to the police followed her home, threatening to traffic Ms. Lesko’s own daughter unless she dropped her allegations.

Creative Associates International, Inc., a minority and women-owned firm, is committed to being of service to the U.S. Government and is appreciative of the opportunity to support the initiatives and leadership of Vera Lesko’s Vatra Center and the nearly two dozen organizations helping women and children in Albania.

After receiving her award from Secretary of State, Ms. Lesko said, “I felt like crying. It is 12-years and literally my work and blood,and this represents a crowning achievement.”

For more information about the CAAHT project, contact Sylvia Ellison at

Click here to view the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Click here for video of the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report release.

Click here for Secretary Clinton’s Washington Post article.

Click here to view Video Postcards on the Coordinated Action Against Human Trafficking initiative.

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