I dream of a world without slavery. I hope to see that world one day. I am writing to tell you my story because I hope it will prompt you to take action. There are so many people victimized by human trafficking just like I was.
For me, it started with a dream about coming to America. I was 10, and the image I had of the U.S. was completely what I saw on television — you know, “Cosby Show” and “Fresh Prince of Belair” and “90210.” So when I was told that I was going to come to the U.S. and be adopted and get a better education, I was excited.
What I didn’t know was that my uncle in Cameroon had actually sold me to a woman in Maryland who had a home business. I became a slave not far from the U.S. Capitol. I was cooking and cleaning and caring for her children.
Every time I would ask to go to school, my trafficker said I couldn’t go because I was too stupid. I would go days and weeks at a time without eating. Sometimes I would have to stand throughout the whole night. Other times, my trafficker would beat me until she was too tired to continue. She would call me “fat,” “ugly,” and “dirty,” so dirty that I wasn’t allowed to sleep on a bed and had to sleep on the floor.
At the age of 17, I ran away, and a priest helped me contact the police. They arrested my trafficker and I was placed in foster care. I was able to earn a BA in Homeland Security from the University of Maryland and I now work at a law firm. President Obama appointed me to serve on the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
During my seven years in slavery, many people could see that I was trapped. But they did nothing. However, there are things that anybody can do.
First, if you see something suspicious, say something to police or a community leader.
Second, support one America’s most important anti-trafficking organizations, Free the Slaves. I am proud to serve on their board of directors to provide guidance that can only come from someone who is a survivor. Free the Slaves runs education programs in Africa that prevent children being trafficked into modern slavery.
I keep fighting because I know I can advocate for the people who are still enslaved. Please join the fight.