In partnership with the Not For Sale Campaign against human trafficking, Global Exchange Reality Tours for the past three years has organized a series of delegations geared specifically to confronting the realities of the trade. Focusing on ‘hot spots’ within the world of human trafficking such as Cambodia, Thailand, Peru and Uganda, delegates receive a comprehensive education in the mechanics of human trafficking, as well an understanding of its underlying causes.
I’ve personally journeyed to all these amazing nations and experienced, with other delegates, those who have been freed from exploitation and slavery, learned what it means to rebuild one’s life after having been a victim of trafficking, and engaged directly with groups and individuals on the front lines of the struggle to expose and ultimately end the trade in human lives. Each group has exchanged and supported vulnerable communities targeted by traffickers, learned effective strategies for undermining slave rings, and experienced first hand how emancipated populations rebuild their lives.
Last summer I was fortunate enough to join the Stop Human Trafficking delegation to Cambodia where I shared a room and countless hours of conversations and contemplation with Lori Lindgren Voit. Lori generously taught morning yoga classes to the group, so we started each day stretched and warmed up. Today she graciously shares her impressions with us.
I feel I am in some ways still “coming back” from Cambodia and the Human Trafficking delegation I was part of this past August. I am daily connecting with people who are interested in doing a similar trip, working on like projects or just excited to have a conversation about possible solutions in our world. Though the experiences we had were often challenging, (visiting Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge run prison and torture camp, for example) the conversations and understanding they provided were irreplaceable. We were able to see a wide variety of centers providing shelter, education and skills to the victims of Human Trafficking. Our multigenerational crew were able to brainstorm ideas with NGO’s and all of us would grow from the learning conversation.
One benefit of this trip has been the unexpected healing from adding effort to spread awareness and possible solutions to an ill in our world that I had previously felt powerless against. We know there are many unacceptable tragedies going on in our world. Doing what we can to add strength to the health and education of a countries most vulnerable feels like we’ve made a change.
I say “we” because I was lucky enough to have the backing of a yoga community. When I first thought of doing some yoga classes and having a raffle/party to raise funds and awareness for this cause, I was not sure what to expect. THEY appreciated ME for gathering like minds in a healing effort, for sharing the info gathered and holding the space for continued conversation! I am so honored to have had the chance to share the healing with my community as well as the political inside scoop from Boreth and the clarity and humanitarian awareness from Malia our Reality Tours leaders on the ground in Cambodia.
As Lori knows, we are not powerless in the face of this monstrous industry, and the first step towards bringing it to a halt is education. Upon return from our delegations, Reality Tours shares resources for our members to stay involved and Not for Sale integrates delegates directly into an understanding of the nature of human trafficking in the United States and the meaning of working globally on backyard abolitionist activities. In fact, some of us here at Global Exchange, including our Reality Tours in-country tour operators, and alumni will be attending the Global Forum on Human Trafficking October 20-22. Hope to see you there!