Thursday, December 31, 2009

I chose the road to...Macau

Busy does not begin to describe my life recently, but I am going to try to update you on what has been going on in the last two months with pictures and a brief synopsis.
In November I traveled to Macau for a short adventure. Macau is an incredibly historic place. It is a Special Administrative Region of China, just like Hong Kong. It was both the first and last European colony in China. Macau was colonized by the Portuguese and their influence is still very much present.

Macau is one of the richest cities in the world, and to put things into perspective as a casino town it overtook Las Vegas in its first year. I spent no time or money at the casinos, but I did go to church at the Morrison Chapel where I met the Filipino Anglican Migrant Fellowship.

I stayed with a professor from Morrison Chapel and his family in his gorgeous house. It was enormous. The picture to the right was the view from my bedroom, on my side or wing of the house :)

During the day my friend Gi took me on a tour of Macau to different museums and historical landmarks. It was a beautiful place lined with cobblestone streets.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I chose the road to...human trafficking

WOW…it has been so long since I’ve blogged and so much has happened that I need to catch you up on! I am going to break it up into two blogs, so here is the first one...

First and foremost, my dear sweet fellow YASCer Melanie Jianakoplos came to visit me in Hong Kong back in October and we had the most amazing time! I saw more of Hong Kong while she was here than I had the entire two months before she arrived. She did an excellent job of blogging about it, so if you’d like to hear the details of our excursions please visit her blog here

The week after Melanie left, my life was forever changed. The United Nations Anglican Observer’s Office hosted its first Consultation on Human Trafficking in Hong Kong, November 2nd-6th, 2009 to address the growing epidemic that is silently terrorizing hundreds of thousands of women and children across the globe every day. Approximately forty people were invited to attend the conference, ranging from trafficking experts, to clergy, to young adult women delegates who had previously attended meetings of the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Delegates to the consultation included Anglicans from 12 provinces – Korea, Japan, Philippines, England, Canada, USA, Mexico, Kenya, North India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Hong Kong.
Definition of Human Trafficking- recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. (for the use of forced labor, sexual purposes, or organs)
The insatiable demand for sex with children is not something that can be easily digested, yet it is increasing with magnitude daily. The human-trafficking industry is a multi-billion dollar trade with numbers steadily rising and no decline in sight. In varying degrees and circumstances, men, women and children all over the world are victims of what has become a modern day slave trade. As one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, trafficking in persons results in serious breaches of human rights and dignity of human beings.

In between the presentations given by these experts, were heart-breaking personal stories told by people working through churches, and best practices in response to trafficking. Edwina Antonio, Executive Director of the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge where I work, gave a presentation on the services that are provided to domestic helpers in distress in Hong Kong. And as an intern, I was asked to give a presentation including personal stories from victims who have encountered abuses and who became residents at the Bethune House.

The purpose for this five-day conference was to create awareness of the escalating issue and to form strategies on how to go forward and combat this global crisis. I met some of the most amazing women (and men) at this conference who I hope to always remain in contact with. I learned so much in these short, but intense five days. I feel called now in so many ways to this field and will continue to pray for God’s guidance and direction as I try to decipher the next steps to take in making that happen. As the conference came to a close, an exhausted but hopeful group of people joined together in a farewell service and said good-bye to each other with promises of future consultations, and an assurance that this is not an end but only the beginning of what will be a battle we must undertake together for the rights and safety of the countless victims of this monstrous crime of human-trafficking.

The alMOST Rev. Peter Ng and Rev. Winston Ching receiving much deserved awards

Archbishop Paul Kwong and I at the welcoming dinner...Nagulan, what course are we on again??

The beautiful Benny Mendoza from the Philippines and I getting ready for dinner

My new, dear friend Phoebe Griswold (wife of our 25th Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold) and I on Day 2 of the Conference