Sarah Tran volunteers at the An Giang/Dong Thap Alliance for the Prevention of Trafficking (ADAPT) in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
When it rains on the roof of my house in Long Xuyen, Vietnam, sometimes it sounds like drowning and sometimes it sounds like peace. I have found that being a new volunteer doing anti-human trafficking work to be like this too.
Many people can not imagine what human trafficking looks like. We come up with pictures of far-off poor countries, young women kidnapped in the dead of night, raids on brothels. But more often, human trafficking looks like poor families rising before the sun to do back-breaking labor to feed their children, young girls dropping out of school to put food on the table, and trusted friends who hold the false promise of better lives. Front-line anti-trafficking work looks like a small office located in a border province between Vietnam and Cambodia with a small dedicated team of women who – day in and day out for the last seven years – have spent each day talking to the families of our scholarship recipients, encouraging and joking with young girls and women in our shelters, and writing up proposals that strive to convey the tenacity of girls that have managed to survive experiences many of us will never have to endure.
And the life of a new Vietnamese American volunteer living in Vietnam is the trial and gift of being like a child and an adult simultaneously – halting speech, sponge-like learning, and growth. It is not glamorous or easy but something better. It is real and each day that I work to find the words to speak about what we do, I hear the ever-stronger voices of these girls. The voice that at times sounds like drowning and a voice that constantly overcomes drowning towards peace.
Check out ADAPT to learn more about and their work in human trafficking prevention.