WHEN the 24 Hour Race was first established in Malaysia in 2014, to raise awareness on human trafficking, the total number of participants was 150 students.
The third iteration of the 24 Hour Race in Kuala Lumpur will take place at IGB International School in Sungai Buloh, with more than 1,000 students participating from international and public schools in the Klang Valley.
This Malaysian leg of the 24 Hour Race will take place simultaneously with two other locations in the same time zone – Singapore and Hong Kong.
Founded by anti-human trafficking non-governmental organisation Running to Stop the Traffik (RTST), the local leg of the 24 Hour Race aims at raising funds for the Persatuan Kebajikan Suara Kanak-kanak Malaysia, or Suka Society.
RTST Kuala Lumpur executive director Michelle Lee said the participants would be running around a 1.2km track on IGB International School’s field.
RTST Kuala Lumpur raised more than RM60,000 in 2014 and more than twice that amount in 2015.
“All the funds raised goes to Suka Society, who works with the Government in helping rescued human trafficking victims, and we try to keep our costs down through sponsorship,” said Lee.
She hopes her successor next year would be able to reach out to more Malaysian public schools and work with the Education Ministry to educate students about human trafficking in Malaysia.
Although registration for participating teams has closed, the public are still welcome to visit the race, which will run non-stop from 9am on Nov 19 to 9am the next day.
“We have bake sales by students’ parents and are selling tickets to our music festival featuring local bands. All of the proceeds go to Suka Society as our beneficiary,” said Lee.
A one-minute candlelight vigil will be held at midnight on Nov 20 to remember human trafficking victims.
“Human trafficking in Malaysia is often mischaracterised as only consisting of prostitution or sexual slavery, when actually, even construction workers and other menial workers can also be victims of human trafficking.
“If an individual is forced or coerced into work without proper repayment and cannot leave on his own free will, that’s human trafficking,” Lee explained.
The 2016 Global Slavery Index, published by the Walk Free Foundation, found that about 129,000 individuals in Malaysia were trapped in modern slavery.
For more information on the 24 Hour Race, visit http://24hourrace.org