Please check back in January 2018 for details on the summer program.
“For these are all our children, we will all profit by or pay for whatever they become.” ~ James Baldwin
I founded Prevent Human Trafficking (PHT), as a freshman in college - having finally freed myself from a life born and raised in a cult, and driven to helping others find similar freedom, albeit from the clutches of human traffickers. At that time, I did not realize that it was only the second anti-trafficking organization in the US and the first organization started with the goal of examining, rather than trying to ameliorate the effects of human trafficking. In determining what you want to do this summer, I thought you might be interested in the story of how PHT was established and what I’ve learned in my last 15 years of working to prevent human trafficking in Southeast Asia and the US.
PHT grew out of the experiences of my early life in the cult. I was born in Bombay, India, the child of American parents, into a fringe religious cult that discouraged education and used its children to proselytize throughout Asia. Our primary contact with the outside world was evangelism; however, these “missionary” trips were eye opening. They exposed me to other children, in far different circumstances, who were coerced to beg on the streets, work in horrendous conditions in factories and rock quarries, and cater to sex tourists on the beaches. Over the years I have realized there are quite a few similarities between stories of life in a cult and those of human trafficking victims and survivors. These include lack of freedom of movement or contact with the outside world, various forms of cruelty, mind control, and all kinds of exploitation to satisfy the sick fantasies of criminal and perverted people seeking personal enrichment and power. While not exactly the same as living as one of the trafficked, life in the cult gave me an unusual perspective from which to advocate for victims, survivors and those at highest risk of human trafficking.
In 1999, having fled the cult and moved to the U.S., I founded PHT to advocate for victims and survivors of a horrendous abuse that society had not yet recognized or labeled as “human trafficking”. Since then, I have been educating people about the human trafficking problem and the great leaders working to prevent it. As part of that effort, I have led dozens of summer study programs in Southeast Asia, giving American university students rare access to some of the region’s preeminent scholars, activists, organizers and government officials working at the forefront of the anti-trafficking movement. In addition, participants in the summer study program also got the opportunity to meet with and learn from the PHT-supported local grassroots organizations on the ground in Southeast Asia - in Bangkok or on the Thai-Burmese border.
The groups supported by PHT operate in a variety of environments and run diverse programs. For example some provide high quality free vocational, traditional and values-based education for girls where none previously existed, or train formerly trafficked girls to become the next generation of anti-trafficking leaders in the Greater Mekong Region (Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and southern China), while others confront traffickers directly at personal risk, providing food, shelter, safety and education to street kids, who are at highest risk of trafficking and exploitation. Another partner operates largely in the big cities, advocating to amend laws, ensuring prosecution of victimizers of trafficked, prostituted and otherwise sexually abused children through the local court system and using an extensive network of police, judges and other officials to correct justice system weaknesses regarding sex and labor crimes against children.
I invite you to join me on a life changing 2 week journey in Thailand for a once in a lifetime experience traveling the incredible country, meeting the bravest people I know, and blending theory and practice in the anti-trafficking community, building solidarity with current and future leaders in the movement, meeting policy makers, nonprofit leaders, human trafficking survivors and those at risk.
PHT - and the work that it does - allows me to work with amazingly resilient men women and children and it gives me hope that it is possible to prevent the dehumanizing experiences people endure at the hands of their fellow humans. This program is limited to only 20 participants, so if anything you’ve read resonates with you, I invite you to contact us to see if you are a good fit for this life changing program. For more information, please email me at preventhumantraffickingATgmail.com
Christina Kiritz (Arnold)