'I am Jasmine Strong': How These Real Life Superheroes Are Fighting Back Against Exploitation
In movies, we are taught that crimes are fought by good people. When all other efforts seem to fail, here come the superheroes ready to take on the criminal. They are not like other people; they’re different because they step into the fire when others step away. They are disguised by unique masks and wear long capes. But, at the end of the day, superheroes are just a script writer's imagination coming to life on screen… right?
What if I told you superheroes were real? That everyday, all over the world, superheroes were fighting some of the worst crimes. Would you believe it?
Fighting human trafficking and providing restoration to survivors is no easy task. It requires patience, dedication, and, most importantly, good people. Without these real-life superheroes, crimes like modern slavery wouldn’t be properly handled.
Andrea Powell, a content designer who has been advocating against modern-day slavery for 15 years, became a real life superhero at only 17 when she first heard about the crime as an exchange student in Germany. She had become friends with a young Syrian girl who had been sold into marriage by her own parents. During this time, Powell saw the dark glimmers of injustice and has worked ever since to save young individuals like her friend.
“Everything I do now is in honor of her and in memory of everything I did not know then that could have saved her,” Powell says.
By the time she was just 22, Powell founded her first nonprofit, FAIR Girls. Today, she works as a consultant and developer for I AM JASMINE STRONG, a resource campaign based in San Francisco, California, designed to help change how people view vulnerable youth experiencing exploitation.
I AM JASMINE STRONG was created by young individuals, called the INVINCIBLES, who survived homelessness, abuse, trafficking and other complex traumas. They don’t wear masks or fancy capes. Instead, they are normal people, like you and me. They are real-life superheroes using their stories to make change and hope for youth and support for parents and educators all around.
To provide the best and most useful resources to the public, I AM JASMINE STRONG needed a great team of creators that could help bring their mission to life. Powell and Alia Whitney Johnson, the Executive Director of Freedom Forward, have worked to engage child sex trafficking survivors to turn their stories “into accessible and realistic short stories and films” that are used to teach people about the reality of child exploitation. By using real-life survivor stories, they have helped young people recognize their inner power and the strength we all possess when we work together for good.
Currently, Powell is visiting public schools in Washington D.C., educating teens about the work I AM JASMINE STRONG is doing “that will allow young people the freedom to survive.” The nonprofit primarily aims to protect vulnerable youth and provide them with avenues to a better future. This includes access to healthcare, shelter and safe housing, jobs, education and other general aid programs. They also provide ways young people can become an ally in hopes to advocate for and support those who’ve been victimized.
“We wanted to be sure teens continued to learn about the issues because it is through this learning that they will find ways to overcome their own exploitation or become a part of the movement,” Powell says.
Combating human trafficking and tackling exploitation doesn’t have to be a hard task. When we use our voices and resources to help others around us, we too can become real-life superheroes, fighting serious crimes off-screen.
“Change comes when we truly listen and work together,” Powell says. “Our movement must continue to be honest, reflective, innovative, and compassionate. That is at the heart of the I AM JASMINE STRONG campaign.”
To watch Jasmine’s story, click here I AM JASMINE STRONG
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About the Author
Danyella Wilder is a senior at California Baptist University studying Journalism and New Media with two minors in Public Relations and Global Justice. She's thrilled to work alongside Dressember in their advocacy to spread awareness about modern-day slavery. Danyella is also an admirer of travel, an online-shopping enthusiast, and she loves going to the beach just as long as she has a great book in hand.