We try to showcase inspiring individuals and non-profits around the world. The following article highlights the work of Priscilla Chan and her work with international human trafficking. She is currently a legal consultant for Hagar, a non-profit dedicated to restoring wholeness to the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam that have been torn apart by human rights abuse. Walking the whole journey of protection, recovery, empowerment and integration with each individual is the whole reason for Hagar.
"What can I do?" was the first question she asked when Priscilla Chan became aware of the problems of international trafficking. Leaving her six-figure salary, Priscilla decided to make an impact by becoming a consultant for Hagar Cambodia's Legal and Protection Unit. She is currently assisting trafficked children in testifying against criminals. "I could no longer pretend that nothing happened and continue to work, shop, and eat. That day I said to myself, I really want to do everything I can to help these individuals."
According to the 2009 United Nations' “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons," every year about 800,000 to 4,000,000 people are sold in trafficking. 80% of people are forced to engage in the sex industry, and Cambodia is one of the most problematic places. Due to limited social resources, women or children refugees could only stay at Hagar and other NGOs. Priscilla’s mission is to assist the victims in the daunting task of testifying in court. She helps her victims as best she can, fight through the fears of confronting their attacker and reliving traumatic experiences.
In assisting those that are deemed as "victim", Priscilla often finds strength and inspiration in individuals empowered to fight back. "There was a fifteen-year-old boy who inspired me. At the time, he wanted to go to a foreign country to testify against the man who violated him. At first I was worried that he cannot cope with the heavy situation, but he told me, ‘I'm going to talk about it! If I am silent, the judge will not know the truth, and the criminal will continue to hurt other people. Although I'm afraid, but I need to overcome my fears because I hope that other children receive just treatment."
Though these stories are meant to touch the heart, Priscilla pushes back on passivity and calls for action from the public. While confronting these tough issues are a complicated matter, she suggests to do research and work from there. "If you just find a starting point, you will gain the ability to care deeply about the matter. The way that God created us is interesting. I think my mission is to take care of trafficked children, so I'm just fulfilling my duty."
Born in Hong Kong, Priscilla studied in Australia and was a lawyer specializing in serving high-profile customers in the finance and banking industries. In 2008, she happened to read a book on human trafficking, and wanted to understand more about the problem. She flew back and forth from Hong Kong to Rwanda in Africa and Cambodia to visit orphanages, and in 2010, she gave up her career as a lawyer, and went to Phnom Penh with a mission.
A former Silicon Valley techie, Priscilla's husband is also dedicated to fighting human trafficking and serving as a CEO of a NGO in Cambodia. Though their current career track comes with a drastic change in lifestyle, Priscilla feels it was an obvious decision to make. "I do not think of it as a sacrifice, God gave me the professional qualifications, I am just using it to contribute to the community."
To learn more about the activities related to Hagar, please visit http://hagarinternational.org/hong-kong.
Original Article by Reporter: Ai Wen Zhou, Translated by EV Intern Allison Zhang
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