January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. From January 1st through January 11th, we’ll be posting daily blogs -- staff reflections, inspirational quotes and more that reflect our passion to see child trafficking and exploitation ended. Our resolution is to protect and defend the vulnerable and to restore and empower survivors. Join us in 2013 as we continue onward towards abolition!
My life was changed forever the day I became an abolitionist.
During my first semester of grad school, I sat in the creaky fold-down seats in my school’s auditorium with fellow social workers and great minds alike, intrigued to hear from Micheline Slattery, a trafficking survivor, and Rob Morris, who led Love146, speak to the issue of trafficking that’s happening in the world.
I remember it like it was yesterday, walking up to Rob after the event and asking, “Where do I sign up? How do I become a modern day abolitionist?” If I am being completely honest, I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew I wanted to do whatever I could to stop this tragedy from happening to people around me. It wasn’t okay! I was sick to my stomach knowing this was really something happening. I had no idea it existed. I am no history buff but I knew this was something that existed in the 1800’s but in the 21st century…really? This was all before I knew this was happening to children and also happening in our backyards. Watch out…Nicole is coming through!
Throughout my life, I have always linked myself, my life, my work to a quote by Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If there was going to be any change in this world around trafficking, I am only one person, but I was determined to do something about it. In the words of Helen Keller, "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
Here I am, six and a half years later, still doing something about it, one day at a time, one person at a time, one change at a time.
Robert Kennedy said, "Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
It is my wish that my tiny ripple of hope will cross many other centers of energy and it will impact the masses and sweep down the mightiest walls.
Nicole von Oy, MSW is Love146's U.S. Training & Outreach Coordinator. She trains adults and professionals on issues of commercial sexual exploitation of children as well as mentoring and implementing prevention education with adolescents. Nicole graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work with a graduate degree in Community Organizing with a focus on international issues in social work. You can expect to find Nicole offsetting the serious nature of our work by sharing a YouTube video or playing a practical joke.