I’m a passionate person. When I believe in something, I believe in it with everything I have. I throw myself into it until it consumes me and becomes contagious to those around me. And you know what? I get a lot of crap for that.
I’m young. I’m only 24. (Shocking, I know.) I’ve done a whole lot more in my measly 24 years than some people do in their entire lives. Why? Because I don’t stop when people tell me no, it can’t be done, you’re too young to know what you’re talking about, you’ll regret this, you’re crazy, what you’re doing doesn’t matter. I do it anyways. And because of that, I’m a world changer.
I recently took one of the interns I work with to lunch. She and I haven’t really worked together until lately and I realized that even though we were Facebook friends, I really knew nothing about her. She’s amazing. She told me that what she’s really passionate about is animals. You know that show, Whale Wars? She wants to do something like that to help as many animals as she can. And do you know what she’s been told? That she’s crazy. That her boyfriend would dump her for doing something so extreme. You know what I told her? Do it. You’ll never regret standing up for something that matters to you.
My passion is ending the sex trade. While I want it to disappear altogether, I especially want to end the trafficking and exploitation of children. I’m not just going to talk about it, I’m going to do whatever I can to do it.
I learned about human trafficking when I was 18 years old. At the time, my youngest sister was 10. We come from a loving and supportive family who would do anything in their power to protect us. Knowing that I would do whatever I could to ensure her safety while girls were sold and traded by their loved ones, the ones who were supposed to protect them, enraged me. My sisters and I have a voice. My family has a voice. You have a voice. But the victims of the sex trade don’t. And that’s when I decided to give a crap.
When I told people I was going to Cambodia the first time at 19 years old, I got quite the variety of responses. Cambodia is a third world country. The United Nations ranks it 3rd most landmined country in the world. They have a corrupt legal system, which would basically leave me stuck in the country if anything went awry. And did I mention that I’m American? I’m pretty sure that never helps anyone abroad. But I went and fell in love with the Khmer people. I still keep in touch with people I worked with at the orphanage I stayed at. I went back again at 21 and worked more directly with children rescued from human trafficking. It’s really intense. And it never leaves you.
While I by no means think my work is done in Cambodia, I can’t turn my back on my country. The sex trade is growing problem in America. I was thrilled to learn that Rethreaded, an organization focused on breaking the cycle of the sex trade, was starting in my hometown of Jacksonville. I knew this wasn’t an accident. As soon as I learned about the organization, I reached out and started getting involved. Jacksonville has embraced this organization and it is growing beautifully.
I was recently told by someone that I’d give up on changing the world when I got older. The thing is, it won’t matter how old I am – there will always be people in need. And as long as there are people in need, I hope I’ll never be unwilling to make a difference.