Fighting at the front lines
Why did you decide to fight human trafficking?To be completely honest, I was entirely naive to the issue of trafficking until I was in college. If someone had asked me 6 years ago “when did slavery end?” I would have readily answered with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. Thankfully my ignorance ended when an investigative journalist, Christine Dolan, came to Bryan and gave a lecture on human trafficking which was completely eye-opening.
There are many forms of trafficking, but the transformative point for me was when I realized girls so much younger than myself are being bought and sold, repeatedly abused, with virtually no freedom. After becoming educated on human trafficking, I just didn't feel as if I could close my eyes to the issue, continuing with everyday life. Moreover, I began to realize how important it is for us, as Christians, to be involved in this field, following God's call to act as advocates and seek justice for the abused and defenseless. Isaiah 1:17 says to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan and plead for the widow.” All of these factors, along with God really stirring my heart, led me to a clear decision that I wanted to enter into a career within the anti-trafficking arena.
What are some of the groups you have worked for, and what have you done with them?After graduating from Bryan in 2009, I served briefly with a non-profit in Nashville, Tenn., founded by Christian singer, Natalie Grant, called Abolition International (formerly The Home Foundation). The organization’s aim is to eradicate sex trafficking and exploitation both domestically and abroad. Subsequently, I received an internship with International Justice Mission (IJM)'s office in the United Kingdom to serve as their Business Operations Intern (which primarily entailed donor relations administration). IJM is a human rights organization that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.
IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems – police, courts and laws – effectively protect the poor. After my internship, I was honored to be able to join IJM's England staff team as Advancement Executive, where I currently serve. In this role, I assist in developing donors (whether individuals, churches, businesses or foundations), manage events, gather resources for our work internationally and seek to advance the cause of IJM in the UK through engaging professionals and individuals in a deeper way with IJM’s work.
What is the most significant moment in your career fighting human trafficking?The most influential point in my career fighting human trafficking occurred within the last few months. One of IJM's clients was only 16 when she was rescued from a brothel in Kolkata, India. After a year of healing, she and her counselors decided she was ready for a job outside of her aftercare home. Through the job, she made a new friend who ended up tricking her and selling her to another trafficker. This girl was not only trafficked into a brothel once - but twice!
Investigative leads showed she was trafficked to Mumbai, a city of 18 million. IJM investigators were determined to rescue her again but it seemed an impossible task. Although this girl was trafficked not once but twice, IJM was able to rescue her not once but twice! It was an incredible story of rescue and determination by our teams.
I tell you that story because a few months ago, I was privileged to have the opportunity to take a few supporters to see our work in India. While there, I was able to meet the above client, which was absolutely life-changing. To see her in an environment where she, and girls similar to her, are now free, receiving an education, taking sewing and cooking classes and most importantly having a healthy example of love shown to them, was extraordinary.
I cannot describe to you the tremendous mix of both profound heartache, knowing all that she had endured, and yet the extreme joy seeing her smile and thrive in a newfound life of freedom. Meeting this girl, and to see the impact of even just one life changed, confirmed to me the importance of IJM’s work and why I feel so passionate about my work. It is days like these which spur me on in the fight against trafficking, and I thank God for being able to be a part of this great work.