Six months ago, I found myself surrounded by people who took a great interest in my work against human trafficking.
With my investigation into the abductions of my friends in Vietnam, my surprisingly successful search for them in China, and my struggles to help them reclaim their lives, my story has been a strange and complex one, and there were plenty of questions.
Rather than endlessly repeating the same information, I decided to satisfy everyone’s curiosity at once, and hosted an evening in a local yoga hall.
There, for the first time, I told the complete story of my experiences in Vietnam and China. For 2.5 hours I spoke, and fielded questions from friends and strangers.
I told elements of the story I’d never told anyone before. I gave gritty little details. I introduced the full cast of characters, not just the handful I mention in my blog for the sake of simplicity and coherence.
I knew my story was a powerful one. Until I told it in person, though, until saw the reactions on people’s faces and heard their responses, I didn’t realise just how powerful it was.
The most memorable reaction came from a friend, who was familiar with the basics of the story, but had never realised its true depth and complexity.
‘You have a diamond,’ he said.
I remember his comment so clearly because it he repeated it half a dozen times as he slowly digested everything I’d said.
‘You have a diamond.’
If you’ve read my blog from 2014 and early 2015, you know fragments of that story. Much more will be unveiled in our forthcoming feature-length documentary, Sisters For Sale.
It has been very interesting to see people’s reactions to the Sisters For Sale trailer. Even if they’ve been following my work for years, many seem to realise for the first time that Sisters For Sale is no joke.
It’s not just a couple of kids with video cameras: it’s a serious piece of work.
I now have a rough cut of the first 41 minutes of Sisters For Sale. I’ve shown it to a handful of people, and the response has been fantastic.
The editing is loose, the sound is unmixed, music and animations are lacking, the titles are basic, the colours need correction. There is plenty of work yet to do – and yet the strength of the story is undeniable.
Some have watched with tears in their eyes almost from the beginning.
And that’s only the beginning – those 41 minutes give only the first taste of the story, with barely a hint of the dramas, deceptions and gut-wrenching decisions that are to follow. The completed documentary will be more than twice the length, and pack a lot more punch.
There’s no question that Sisters For Sale will be a unique and very powerful film, and I can’t tell you how excited I will be to finally share it with the world.
While I’m busy polishing this diamond, however, I can’t help but think of The Pearl, a novella written by one of my favourite American authors, John Steinbeck.
The Pearl is the story of Kino, a young pearl diver who retrieves a magnificent pearl from the sea floor.
The simple, poverty-stricken Kino sees incredible transformational potential in his pearl. He dreams of formalising his marriage in the eyes of God, and of buying an education for his infant son.
The pearl does indeed change Kino’s life, though not as he hopes: rather than goodness, Kino finds only greed, violence and the very worst of humanity.
After his hut is burned, his precious canoe is destroyed, and his child is murdered, Kino casts his magnificent pearl back into the sea, and his treasure is lost. The story ends.
In the past six months since I told my own story, I’ve seen how easy it would be to lose this diamond I have.
It doesn’t matter how good the material is, how excited I am, or how many hours I work. It’s simply not possible to complete this documentary to the standard it deserves with the funds I have.
Sisters For Sale is the flagship of The Human, Earth Project.
The success – even the survival – of the Project, and all my efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking, depend on this film.
Filmmaking and storytelling are my strengths. The business and promotional aspects of the Project are not. In the coming months, I’ll be launching a new fundraising campaign to complete Sisters For Sale.
Fundraising might sound easy, but it’s a full-time job in itself.
This week, I’ll be suspending all work on Sisters For Sale, and focusing my energy on the campaign ahead. To do it properly, I need a team of helpers, and I need contacts.
Some of my friends and supporters from Europe and the Americas are already onboard to help with this new campaign.
Do you have any ideas to help push this campaign further?
Do you have any contacts that may be useful – anyone working in film, media, promotion, for human rights, or against human trafficking?
Are you skilled in writing and communication – in English, or any other language?
Do you have a network of friends who want to see positive change in the world?
Do you want to make a difference?
You can help – and your help could mean the difference between success and failure, between a pearl lost at the bottom of the ocean or a diamond for all to see.
Please, take a moment to think about it, and get in touch here:
Support my work here.