Anna Phou | Week 1

Who am I and what led me to the movement?

Who am I?  I’m just a kid that is passionate about social justice and heard about human trafficking one day and wanted to do something about it.  The first time I ever heard of human trafficking, I was having dinner and hanging out at my mentor’s house with a bunch of other college kids and Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission (IJM).  I had the opportunity to hear about Gary’s raids of brothels in Cambodia.  For the next few years I heard more stories of victims forced into prostitution or into labor without consent.  One day I was asked, “if I could do anything with my life, and money or education were not factors, what would I do?”

It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in church, that I heard a specific call to help victims of human trafficking.  I cannot express how clear this call was. It was more than a call and I felt like the creator of the universe was sitting next to me and telling me, “you are going to help victims of human trafficking.”  There was no doubt.  I finished out the semester, changed my major and changed schools to study social work.  One day I happened to be browsing the Internet, researching human trafficking as usual and stumbled across the Not For Sale Campaign’s Academy.  I wanted to do it, so I signed up and registered immediately.  The Academy happened to fall on my Fall Break and so, in October 2010, I headed down to San Francisco for the Academy.  I learned so much, met some of the most amazing people and fell in love with the incredible city.  The Academy was a defining milestone in my life.

I left San Francisco knowing that one day I would come back and continue to fight human trafficking until it ended.  I went back to Portland and worked with Not For Sale Oregon.  And still everyday I thought about Not For Sale in Half Moon Bay.  It wasn’t until September 2011 that I finally returned to the Bay area and immediately started working at the national office as a volunteer. worked my butt of to be an intern and now I am a Session 5 Fellow.  It has seriously been a crazy journey.  Not a moment of it has been easy, but knowing that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing and this is exactly where I am supposed to be has made everything more than worthwhile.

Now I am here as a fellow and we all have just completed our first week.  It’s been completely overwhelming and I feel like I’m drowning in all the information that I have taken in the last week but I could not be any more excited than I am right now.  I think this is going to be the hardest, most exhausting and amazing six months of my life.  I could not be surrounded by a more awesome group of fellows, staff or supporting fellowship director.  And even though we’re not all Kru Nam’s, I still believe we’re going to change the world behind the scenes.

This is going to be awesome.

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