After 12 years in London, lawyer Valerie Stefano has launched her own anti-trafficking organization, which she funds through her blockchain and cryptocurrency investments.

Growing up with books and movies about strong women who pursue their dreams despite the odds, Valerie Stefano dreamed of becoming a lawyer from a young age. She was brought up with the idea that nothing is impossible when you have the right attitude and put in the effort. This was the attitude that she carried when she left for London, 10 years ago, in pursuit of a legal career. She faced many trials, more than once she wondered if she made the right decision, but when it was most difficult, an inner voice told her: "Keep going, it's almost done" - and she trusted it. She continues to trust that voice to this day, when her professional path as a lawyer confronts her with some of the worst crimes and ugly traits of the human soul.

But she shows absolute professionalism and always knows what the right decision is. In the past year, Stefano created her own anti-trafficking organization, which he funds entirely with personal funds from her blockchain and cryptocurrency investments. Valerie Stefano tells us emotionally and interestingly about her diverse talents and interests, about the challenge of being a beautiful woman (a ‘Mrs. Bulgaria Universe 2020’ title holder) working in criminal law and what motivates her for each of her projects.

- You have been living in Great Britain for more than 12 years. Tell us about your career as a lawyer there.

- I always dreamed of being a lawyer, but arriving in London, I didn't know where to start. I was extremely lucky to meet a person who recognized my talent and helped me. This is the co-founder of Prateorian Global ( ), a crisis management organization, and the CEO of Chester Abbey Solicitors, the law firm I work for. I studied at night and on weekends, often sacrificing my sleep for the sake of the goals I had set for myself. I began my legal career in criminal law, an area most often favored by men. I have traveled to police stations to represent people accused of some of the most serious crimes, including murder, drug trafficking and kidnapping. It was very rough at first as London police stations house some of the most dangerous people in the UK. However, there, on the spot, my training spoke for itself - I was able to listen to my clients, quickly analyze the situation and determine the right course of action. Despite the shouting and violence before my eyes, I managed to keep calm and earn everyone's respect. I remember one particular client who was arrested for a crime he didn't commit, but no one believed him. I spent a lot of time gathering evidence and discovering his alibi, then managed to free him within a few hours. The client said he was in such a bad mental state that he was considering suicide before I came to help him.

- At the end of 2022, you created your own organization to combat human trafficking. What motivated you to go in this direction?

- One night, a friend of mine appeared at my home, who had been kidnapped by a human trafficking gang and was forced to work for them. That broke my heart, I had never heard anything like this and I had no idea that this was actually happening in real life. The man who had convinced her to come to London under the pretext of working in a restaurant was a childhood friend of hers, and she had no idea he was capable of such a thing. They took her passport and threatened her family in Romania. I used all my legal knowledge to press charges against the London and Romanian police, as well as a number of anti-trafficking organisations. All the men were arrested and my friend is now a successful business owner. But this incident opened my eyes to the horrors of human trafficking and I decided to dedicate my life to fighting this crime.

43 million people a year are victims of human trafficking, of which 24 million are in modern (financial) slavery and 15 million in forced marriage. Every fifth victim is a minor. It is not known how many more millions remain outside the statistics. Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and generates $150 billion a year. I began to wonder why the world isn't doing anything about it? For this reason, I decided it was necessary to create a platform to inform and educate people, especially children.

- How does your platform help users?

- is an informative platform with specially selected video materials, lectures and statistics. I think many of the victims don't know what to do when they find themselves in such a situation. This initiative of mine is entirely for charity. The idea for the development of the platform is to appropriately move to a close cooperation with the education system and with different educational platforms. One of the directions I want to emphasize is early information to teenagers and prevention so that they do not become victims in the future.

- What are the biggest challenges you face?

- Human trafficking is a crime that covers different countries, different legislations, institutions and organizations, which is where some of the legal challenges in fighting it come from. On a personal level, the challenges I encounter are mostly related to the fact that I am a woman and that I am Mrs. Bulgaria Universe. I have encountered people who underestimate me, but usually after the first conversation the positions are evened out. I remain determined and steadfast in the pursuit of my higher purpose. My dedication to fighting human trafficking is genuine and means too much to me. I recently returned from Moldova, where I was on the heartbreaking occasion of groups of children abandoned by their parents sleeping under a bridge, huddled together for warmth. I took them blankets, food and toys and contacted the Moldovan authorities, trying to get them shelter.

The material and photos were provided by lawyer Valeri Stefano.