I took a two-week break over the new year, and spent Christmas Day on the beach of a small developing nation.
After the sun had set, my friends and I went in search of a taxi to take us back to the city nearby.
We chose the wrong taxi.
The driver, who identified himself only as “Elvis”, was a twitchy young man with a heavy foot and a distaste for small talk.
Within the space of a few hundred metres, he ran a red light, almost hit a car, hit a cyclist, then hit a pedestrian.
The taxi was an ancient rustbucket, and none of the passenger doors could be opened from within the vehicle.
Elvis flashed his handgun and, as we sped through the unlit streets outside the city, my friends and I were entirely at his mercy.
Until that night, I had never realised what utterly different worlds we live in, as women and men.
Intellectually, yes, but never in such a visceral way.
As a man, I decided that the situation was unlikely to be life-threatening, and felt somewhat more at ease.
If Elvis wasn’t going to take my life, the most he could take was my cash, my camera, my passport – valuables, yes, but replaceable.
There was so much more he could take from a woman, things which could not be replaced.
We share the same world, yet we are worlds apart.
In life as in my travels, I consider myself fortunate. I’ve seen my share of challenges, yet have always succeeded in avoiding major calamity, as I did that night.
Part of that has been good judgement. Much of it, though, is just dumb luck.
There are others – many others – who have not been so fortunate, through no fault of their own.
As one of the more fortunate, I consider it my responsibility to be there for those less fortunate – and, should my fortunes ever fail, I should hope that someone would be there for me.
After all, we humans are gregarious beings not merely for superficial reasons, but for survival.
We need each other.
In a complex world, however, our daily interactions extend far beyond our immediate social circle, and we can’t always see the effects of our actions.
We don’t know who we might be helping when we send a cheque to charity; nor do we know who we might enslave to save a few dollars when shopping.
It’s a matter of hope, in a world where hope is easily crushed.
Three years ago, I joined the fight against human trafficking.
It is a fight that has consumed vast amounts of my time, energy and money.
I will never see the results of my efforts; I will never know the names or faces of those my work has touched.
Yet I fight, and I keep hope alive.
If you’re willing to join me, further funding is required to complete Sisters For Sale, our feature-length documentary to help raise awareness of human trafficking.
You can pre-order Sisters For Sale – and even have your name featured in the credits – here on our website.
Last week, The Newcastle Herald’s Sam Rigney reported on Sisters For Sale – you can see Sam’s article here.