For months I have been planning and preparing to embark on what I hope will be the adventure of a lifetime. I have sold my house, moved into an apartment, sublet said apartment, quit my office job, put my belongings in storage, and made all the arrangements a person must make to take a journey of this nature, which are many. In three weeks, I will board a plane for Thailand via South Korea. I will travel alone, with my camera, an open mind and one objective: to volunteer for six months with an organization working to combat human trafficking.
Some say I am careless to quit a steady job in these economic times; others say the problems are too complicated to solve. But I believe everyday people can make a difference. I believe in the Starfish Story. I trust that the rewards of my experience will outweigh the risks. And I’m willing to find out because the urge within me is too strong to ignore. At some point you realize you can continue imagining your dreams and goals or you can take aim to live them. As the great Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
And so it begins. 2011 will bring a much welcomed new chapter in my life. My intention is to get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself, and most importantly, help with the cause I am most passionate about – the eradication of exploitation. I am filled with excitement, nervousness, anticipation, curiosity, intrigue. I am ecstatic to begin doing something I’ve dreamt about for a decade. I want to thank the people in my life who have supported me with their encouragement and enthusiasm. I also want to sincerely thank the special few who have contributed financially to my cause.
I believe women in the developing world have it the worst globally – many reside in a state of second-class citizenry. But I believe, given opportunity in the form of education, economic independence, and empowerment, they are the key to the future. I believe the systematic oppression of women and girls serves no one and is grossly detrimental. I believe this oppression can be turned into opportunity and that women are the solution to many of the problems we face on this planet. I believe the time has come for women to rise up. And I want to be a part of that movement even if only in a small way.