Living and Giving

$15 from http://www.raphahouse.org, Made by and benefits girls taken out of brothels in Cambodia and Thailand.

I have always been very interested in humanitarian work. At one point in my life, I thought I would end up living in the developing world full time, doing some sort of advocacy or social justice work. It didn’t work out that way. I got married to a corporate type and live in the suburbs. I love my life, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had chosen a different path. I might be raising my children somewhere in the Third World, living simply out of necessity instead of by choice.

I still read voraciously about humanitarian work, about building schools or giving vocational training to communities that are trapped in the cycle of poverty. But the one cause that captures my attention and keeps me up at night is child sex trafficking. It all started when I was 15.

At 15 I spent a month in Thailand and I saw things there I would never forget. I remember seeing young Thai girls with older, foreign men and I knew they were prostitutes. At that time I didn’t realize that many of them were trafficked and forcibly held as well. The most disturbing thing I saw was a magazine cover with a little girl, 2 0r 3 years old, in lingerie. The magazine was part of a newstand, and was offered for sale right beside the newspaper and other reading material. I’m pretty sure that was my first inclination of such a thing as child pornography.

Ever since then, I’ve been learning all I can about human trafficking, specifically for sexual exploitation. I did my Master’s Thesis on pornography and the sex industry. Sex trafficking didn’t get the media attention it’s getting now and there were not as many resources available for research and study. I see trafficking stories exploding in the news today and I’m overjoyed that the problem is getting the publicity it needs to spur people to action.

This brings me back to simple living. Part of my choice to live a simpler life is so that I can give to causes such as human trafficking. I don’t want to spend every dollar I make on ME and MINE. I want to give to people I’ve never met, that will never pay me back. As a mother I feel a responsibility for every single child on the face of the earth. It’s not okay with me to take care of myself and my kids and ignore the awful things happening to children around the world. Sex trafficking is my cause; for others it’s hunger or clean water or anti-genocide. Whatever the cause is, a simple life allows us to get the focus off of ourselves and onto the needs of others.


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