This past Monday, we hosted an event for GEMS – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services. We were able to gather a great line up ofÂ panelistsÂ with different backgrounds to speak to the girls who haveÂ experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS provides these young women with consistent support and acts as their backbone partner to help them exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.
Our panelists ranged from successful movie actors to entertainment lawyers, from fashion bloggers to major magazine editors. TheyÂ shared their personal life/career stories and the journey they took to be where they are today. One major commonality in their testimonials was that there is not a clear cut road to success. They all faced bumpy roads, obstacles and doubts, but in the end each believed in their passions, and took charge of their own destiny.
Luck, defined as â€śgood fortuneâ€ť or â€śadvantage/ success by the result of chanceâ€ť didnâ€™t necessarily fall upon these ladies. Their stories told of the perseverance, dedication and hard work that, at the very least, laid the groundwork for their â€śluckyâ€ť outcome.
These real life stories helped the young women of GEMS to open up and articulate their own passion and vision of their future, of what they ultimately wanted to happen with their lives. Whether their dream is to become a famous fashion designer, or to be financially stable enough to support their parents, it was a mutually moving experience for both the panelists and our guests.
Even if only one of the young women from GEMS walked away more confident and believing in herself, then weâ€™d say this was a successful symposium! At the end of the day, the panelists were there to inspire the girls and strengthen their beliefs that it is possible to walk away from the commercial sex industry and build a brighter future. â€śWho you are today, does not define who you will be tomorrow.â€ť
Images by: Ruby Maxwell