Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the LifeArt Festival in San Antonio, TX where I was a speaker/panelist for the forums about human trafficking.
I got involved in the Anti-Trafficking movement in 2003, when my husband and I, wrote directed and produced a media piece for an organization that was raising awareness about the issue. The research I had to do for the project left an impression and it was something that I thought about off and on but it ended there.
Then, in 2010, through a series of events I found myself managing a government grant aimed at educating the public on the very real, very atrocious crime of human trafficking happening here, in America. Literally, within 24 hours, I began learning victimology and identification and was still trying to wrap my head around all the statistics, read through the pages and pages of UN and government documents when I was commissioned to attend a TASK Force meeting. At that meeting I was told my job would also consist of training first responders including firefighters, ER doctors and nurses, EMT’s and police on victim identification. To say I felt overwhelmed and under qualified was, and always will be, the understatement of year. My husband was the rock that kept me stable and the voice that reassured me I could handle the assignment.
Last weekend as I sat on the panels for the forums, surrounded by some of the strongest women I know, abolitionist, activist and survivors, I was overcome with a sense of awe and tremendous humility. I sat there thinking, “I get to be a part of this. I get to be a part of this growing surge of people who are diverse and different but marching towards one common goal and I get to do it with these women who I have never met until today, yet we share a bond that runs deep and is strong.”
All of us on the panels were so different in our approaches to eradicating this horrendous crime; we all came to the table with different experiences and stories and yet there we were, working together to educate and inspire. Listening to them speak, there was no competition, no one was territorial or pretentious. It was powerful and beautiful all at the same time.
Those remarkable women, are doing what they do best, staying in their lane, running with passion and clarity. I can’t make beautiful jewelry like Inka, I’m not a survivor like Kathy and Chong, I don’t run a non-profit that gives voices to girls who have experienced sexual abuse like Nicole, I’m not running a safe house like Teri or gathering women from all over the world for leadership training like Ingrid, I’m not directing and producing a Documentary like Aaron Cohen, and I LOVE that because if we were all fighting this injustice the same way we would not be productive.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say with my last breath, just because my way of fighting injustice is different from someone else’s, just because my cause is different from someone else’s it doesn’t make me right and them wrong. WE are women of war, and our stunningly strong strength comes from unity in our sisterhood; and when we leave competition at the door, when we unselfishly invest in others and duplicate ourselves we will leave our mark on the world.
Gena’s P.S. If you are interested in connecting with any of the ladies or Aaron below are their websites/Facebook pages
Inka 139Made: https://www.139made.com/
Katherine McGibbon: https://www.kathymcgibbon.com/
Nicole Braddock Bromley: https://www.iamonevoice.org/
Teri Browning Jansen: https://thekey2free.org/
Chong Kim: https://www.facebook.com/every40Seconds/