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Journey & truth

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Journey & truth

M’s dilemma V: A golden opportunity

It had been two months since I'd spoken to my trafficked Hmong friend M. M's planned rescue had been cancelled after the Chinese "husband" who'd bought her had been alerted to her intentions. I had stopped calling M in the hopes that his suspicions would subside. The...

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M’s dilemma IV: Burden in my hand

At the last possible moment, I'd cancelled the rescue of my trafficked Hmong friend M from the "husband" who had bought her in China. I'd given M hope, and it had proved to be a very dangerous thing. M's "husband" had been alerted to her intention to leave and,...

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M’s dilemma III: Mountains beyond mountains

Late last year, I spoke with a friend about climbing mountains and running marathons. A parallel was drawn with The Human, Earth Project - in a sense, the Project has been a way of testing myself, and discovering where my limits lie. How far was I willing to go before...

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M’s dilemma II: Nowhere to turn

M’s dilemma II: Nowhere to turn

For the first time in almost three years, my friend M - trafficked from Vietnam and sold as a wife in China - had been given the power to determine her own fate. The decision that confronted her, however, was a decision no mother should ever have to make - a choice...

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M’s dilemma

M’s dilemma

Is human trafficking necessarily an evil? Is there any situation in which trafficking could help, rather than harm, its victims? What if, for example, the only way to give my trafficked friend M her freedom was to help bring home her Chinese-born child - which would...

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When roosters lay eggs

The Hmong people here in northern Vietnam have been raised in mountain villages of extreme gender bias, alcoholism and abuse. For many of the young Hmong women who have come to town, almost anything is preferable to marrying a local Hmong man and returning to life in...

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Beyond all limits

Beyond all limits

Over the past year, there have been countless antagonists in our story - human traffickers, paedophiles, and those who would rent or buy women. Now, however, P and I have a more immediate menace. He has a weapon, a gang, and a lust for violence. He knows our names,...

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A can of worms

It is a strange moment in history for the Hmong people of our little valley, and this is quite likely The Human, Earth Project's most bizarre episode ever. One of the reasons that the women here are so vulnerable to human trafficking is that their options here at home...

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From the ashes

From the ashes

P is no longer a victim of human trafficking - she is a survivor, and I'm here to ensure she does more than merely survive. It's not just a matter of helping her find a job and a place to stay - P needs to find the confidence, self-esteem and sense of self that have...

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A glimpse of Asia

A glimpse of Asia

Today I have a surprise for you all. First, however, I'd like to reveal something of the inner workings of The Human, Earth Project.Over the past eighteen months, The Human, Earth Project has entailed all the demands of managing a business, with none of the returns....

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No secrets

No secrets

It's now the second week since P's return home, and we've been busy putting her life back together. P was to come home with the assistance of Blue Dragon, a Hanoi-based NGO which offers a thorough range of services to assist survivors of human trafficking, including...

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Rough justice

Rough justice

It can be difficult not to impose our own standards and values upon societies and cultures to which they simply do not apply. Here in the mountains of Vietnam, life is an entirely different game, with an entirely different set of rules. Behind the bright facade...

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A bird in the hand

A bird in the hand

My Hmong friend P - trafficked from Vietnam, sold into China, and escaped from the man who bought her - had vanished entirely.  After three years and eight months held against her will, P had fled more than 1,500 km (almost a thousand miles) frightened and alone...

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Into the fire

Into the fire

I first launched The Human, Earth Project after learning that my friend M had been abducted from her home, a town where I had lived in northern Vietnam. On my return to Vietnam this January, however, I learned M was not the only friend of mine who had fallen victim to...

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Hanging in the balance

Life goes on in our little mountain town, always changing and ever the same. The six months since I was last here have seen numerous radical transformations. A new highway has halved the travel time from Hanoi, and the town is now indundated with weekend traffic from...

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RTZ

In 2010, I met two Hmong girls, M and P, in a small town in the mountains of far northern Vietnam. The following year both girls were abducted and trafficked to China, where they were sold as wives. Six months ago, on my last visit to that mountain town, I told M and...

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