Egged on by his experience at a Nepali orphanage, billionaire Andrew Forrest vows to act to end modern slavery

Andrew Forrest, billionaire and philanthropist I Picture: Facebook

12 January 2017: Andrew Forrest, an Australian mining magnate and a well-regarded philanthropist, entered the fight against “modern slavery” because his daughter had a horrible experience in Nepal. Some nine years ago, Grace Forrest briefly worked at an orphanage in Kathmandu where she grew extremely fond of some cute inmates. When she returned back to the Himalayan nation two years later, with his billionaire parents, her little friends were all gone, without a trace. Worst of all, they could not get a satisfactory explanation as to what had become of the innocent children.

The experience deeply affected the daughter of one of the most successful iron ore producers of the world. Action-oriented as they are, they formed a father-daughter team to end modern slavery.

In keeping with his dream of liberating “the estimated 46 million people who are trapped in modern slavery around the globe”, Mr Forrest has now stepped back from day to day operations of his Fortescue Metals Group. “We became aware of the horrific business of child trafficking when visiting Nepal,” Mr Forrest was quoted as saying in a News Corp report published on Thursday.

Although that one incident involving his daughter catapaulted the mining magnate into the world of slavery, he was already well-engaged in philanthropy after he and his wife Nicola established the Minderoo Foundation fifteen years ago, “We focus on vulnerable people and communities through giving them a hand up rather than a hand out.”

Both father and daughter later began working on ways to mitigate the pains being inflicted on millions of helpless children, in Nepal and rest of the world. They eventually founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012. Today, the organisation is at the forefront of the war on modern slavery as well as on the $150 billion industry of human trafficking that lays waste to hundreds of thousands of young lives every year.

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