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It was the end of the evening and we were handing out gifts. For some, it was the only thing they had ever received that was free. When I finally came to her there were only two presents left so I held them out; a choice, her choice. One wrapped gift and one teddy. Without a moment’s hesitation she reached out and grabbed the teddy pulling it close and not letting go. Such purity, such innocence. She had smiled and laughed all evening.

I don’t know how she ended up in the red light district of Bangkok. I don’t know her story. But I know it all changed from here. She had captured my attention so I knew when I came back I would be looking for her and I did. Six months past before I was able to visit but within those six months she must have faced something awful. Her innocence and light had gone and she was now drugged and drunk out of her mind; her eyes unable to focus, her smile forced and vague. My heart shattered.

Six months later, a year from our initial meeting, I was back again and this time she wore high heels and a tight red dress that clung to her like a shield. She belonged here; not just belonged, she owned her status. This is who she is. Untouchable.

Unwilling to give me the time of day, she walked past and into the arms of men desperate for her. Men who didn’t truly see, who didn’t care – this was the empty shell they had made her to be. The innocent girl was gone and what remained was a shadow of a woman surviving the rape she faced every night by shutting herself off and giving the illusion of being in control.

I’ll never forget her or her transformation. I’ll never stop wishing I had done more to reach her before the hell she went through took over.

She and others like her are why I believe in O.O.E. She and girls like her are why I keep going back to Thailand to help the Home of New Beginnings. She is why I know that every girl [or boy] rescued from this horrific industry is worth every effort and penny.

Will you join me in the fight to end human trafficking, to give hope and a way to those who think they don’t have a choice┬áCheck out this fb post for more info on how you can help!

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