Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

Technology for a better world.

Fight Sex Trafficking by seeing the Holly film this weekend May 21, 2008

I have just pledged on PledgeBank.com to go to the Saturday night viewing of the acclaimed film, Holly, at the Hollywood Theater if twenty more people will agree to go. I have seen this film before and it is a gripping story of an American expat, played by Ron Livingston of Office Space fame, who is disgusted by being propositioned by a very young girl while in Cambodia. The same reaction he had was also what James Pond, founder of Transitions Cambodia, had when he was in Cambodia years ago. Along with his entire family, he decided to do something and the result is a wonderful organization that rehabilitates girls who had fallen victim to sex trafficking in southeast Asia.

This is a big weekend for Transitions Cambodia in Portland! They are holding a silent auction at the Burdigala Wine Shop in SE Portland on Thursday night. Details here. Then on Friday and Saturday nights, Holly will be screened at the Hollywood Theater in NE Portland, followed by Q&A with James and Athena Pond, founders of Transitions Cambodia, Victor Jaya Sry, In-Country Director from Cambodia, Keith Bickford, head of the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force, Wendy Freed, noted trauma therapist, and Guy Jacobson, writer and producer of Holly. Tickets for the movie can be purchased at here.

The Hollywood Theater can hold a lot more than twenty people. I’m pledging to encourage people to be part of a special evening and to learn about an important problem that affects both developing and developed nations.

Pledge, won’t you please? Hope to see you Saturday night (or if you make it Friday night).

 

Stopping human trafficking December 11, 2007

KI Media, a great blog whose subtitle is “Dedicated to publishing sensitive information about Cambodia,” has posted a guest commentary by Laurence Gray, a World Vision Regional Advocacy Director, in which he points out that the Mekong region of southeast Asia “has a reputation as a hotspot for the trafficking of young people, most notoriously into the underage sex scene.” The article refers to a report commissioned by World Vision and the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater-Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP) and called “Sex, Sun and Heritage: Tourism threats and opportunities in South East Asia.” The report makes recommendations for prevention and awareness-raising campaigns, as well as recommendations for protection of children and prosecution of criminals. One recommendation was for stiff economic fines applied, for example, to bars which hire under-age girls.

Tourist dollars being spent in Cambodia and other south east Asian countries is increasing. One way that we can fight this problem is to contribute toward meaningful employment of adults in these areas. Another is to support the organizations that rehabilitate children who have suffered in human trafficking. My suggestion is that whenever you plan on vacationing in south east Asia, do some web research beforehand on organizations which you can visit and donate some of your vacation funds to their causes. It’s the least we can do if we’re enjoying the history, culture and natural beauty of these countries.

Of course you don’t have to travel to make a donation. Two organizations I’ve become familiar with recently, and which I plan on supporting, are Transitions Cambodia (see my last posting), and Digital Divide Data, of which I’ve also recently written.

 

Transitions Cambodia and the film, Holly December 2, 2007

There are over two million children being trafficked for sex around the world. Last night I saw the important film Holly along with many members and friends of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon. It tells the story of a Vietnamese girl of around 12 years old who is sold into slavery by her family. Shes ends up in a hotel/brothel in Phnom Penh. Ron Livingston, the star of Office Space, plays an American who is disgusted when offered Holly for sex by the hotel manager. He befriends the girl and with that learns how the world of sex trafficking is ruining the lives of so many children and teenagers.

This was a well-written and directed film, the reviews of which should help to get more people into the theaters to see it. Our audience was fortunate to have Azi Ezroni, the film’s producer, and James Pond, founder and Executive Director of Transitions Cambodia, available after the film to speak and answer questions. Azi told about the threats to their lives in filming this story in Cambodia and how she was detained for several days before being allowed to bring the film with her out of the country. James, who I briefly met at the Cambodia Backstage fundraiser a few months back, created Transitions Cambodia to assist victims of sex trafficking, providing counseling, a safe home, education and adult life skills training. Here is a snippet of their mission statement:

At TCI we believe that the imperative goal is not to remove a girl from one form of abuse, only to place her into a situation that will further her abuse or trauma. While shelters provide some necessary services to a small percentage of trafficking victims, it has a limited application. Research and experience has shown that young women coming from sexually exploitive situations are in need of being involved in making decisions in regard to their own futures. They need to have a broader scope of expression in their living situations, community, and family environments. We work with our clients to help them discover themselves, explore their possibilities, and begin the process of crossing from one place to a better place.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to someone who is doing some marketing work with Transitions Cambodia and I hope that, with the film and digital media education that I’m getting, I can create something of promotional value for the organization.

If you’re in the Portland area, I strongly recommend you go to see Holly at the Regal Fox Tower. If you’re not in this area, check out the film website for locations.