Leap of Faith-My friend’s journey into the world of international sex trafficking
“I’ll miss my family. I’ll miss my wonderful friends. And I’ll miss my nice little life. But I’ve always felt my life is bigger than just me, and what I want, and now I’m ready to put that into action. ” –Shahrzad Kojouri
Sometimes we are so busy and wrapped up in our own day to day life it is hard to even find a minute to write a check or make an online donation a priority to support a cause we care about. It is even harder to find an afternoon or day to volunteer for something you believe in. Can you imagine leaving your entire life for a year of service? Well that’s what my friend Shaz is doing. A lawyer by trade, she felt compelled after learning about IJM (International Justice Mission) through her church to be an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.
Shaz is just like you and me. She enjoys going to dinner with friends, finding a great bag at the Kate Spade outlet, perusing an outdoor market. She is not someone who would revel in “roughing it.” Yet that’s exactly what she is doing. As a bit of levity, I offer an excerpt from Shaz’s blog entry about her first experience dining out:
“Durian is a local fruit that Cambodians mostly love, but most of them will also admit it smells like a mixture of dirty feet and garbage. In my humble opinion the taste is not too far off.”
Shaz is in Cambodia living on a very limited budget that was raised through donations in the year before she embarked on this mission. In fact, the length of her time in Cambodia is dependent on her continuing to raise money even while she is working on the other side of the world.
Shaz is keeping a blog about her work and her adventures in Cambodia. Here is an excerpt:
“A community group, for those who may not know, is a weekly prayer, bible study, fellowship group held in someone’s home. It is something I discovered almost two years ago, and it changed my life forever. Being a part of that community group (CG as we call it) gave me a family of believers that I also call neighbors and friends. I grew in my faith, I learned what real friendship looks like, and I had a safe haven to go to each week regardless of the storm going on in my life where I was loved and felt peace. These people became my go to folks for everything from comfort, spiritual support, a gals night out, or even just help moving a couch. Most importantly, when I first felt the call to join the fight against Human Trafficking and work for IJM they supported me and encouraged me every step of the way. They coached me and walked me through this whole new world, and continue to do so. . . They comforted me and encouraged me. Just spending time, relaxing in a coffee shop giving me the opportunity share and process the month in Cambodia so far, helped me settle even more into feeling at home here and refreshed in the work I’m doing.”
I am so proud of Shaz for “walking the walk.” I consider myself a big supporter of volunteer causes both financially and otherwise. But personally, I would never be able to take this step traveling to a place where I don’t know the language and being away from family and friends for a year while living in conditions I am not used to. Shaz credits her faith in God and her church for the decision to go on this journey. I am not religious but I don’t doubt these things had a great impact on her decision. But in my mind, this type of selflessness has to come from within. I don’t have the same selflessness, but I feel fortunate to have Shaz in my life. Just knowing her makes me be a better person.
Please join me in following her year in Cambodia through her blog www.joinshaz.org and Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/