Unlocking freedom: The value of data

“If there is a single and affordable piece of work to be done to…track progress for children, it is getting every child born, everywhere, an indelible legal record of his or her birth.” – Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF

At 14 years old, Maria left her grandparents and five siblings in Guatemala to live with her Aunt Rosa in Chicago and to help care for her two young cousins.  After Maria’s mother was murdered two years ago, Maria’s grandparents sent her to the United States hoping for a better life — a life away from poverty, violence, a crowded house and an uncertain future.

As planned, Maria was smuggled into the United States by Rosa’s boyfriend, Jorge. But instead of taking her to Rosa’s home, Jorge kidnapped Maria and forced her into a dingy house in the Chicago suburbs. Once inside Maria looked into the faces of 15 other girls, all around her age. At that moment, she knew she wasn’t going to see her aunt again.

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