In a few weeks we are going to be welcoming a lady called Victoria from America to the Invisible Traffick team. She is coming to spend some time with Invisible Traffick in both their Northern Ireland and Ireland base and we can’t wait to have her with us! I got the chance to ask her a few questions before she arrives and here is what she said…!
Hi Victoria, we can’t wait to welcome you as part of the team! Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Victoria Stanek. I just graduated from the University of New Hampshire in the United States with my Bachelors in Social Work. I love to be outdoors, close to nature. I enjoy kayaking and hiking.
When did you first find out about the world of human trafficking?
Good question. I think it was during my first year of high school. Someone from Child Voice came and told us about child soldiers in Uganda and how they were being kidnapped and forced to fight. That was the first form of human trafficking I had heard of. It was heartbreaking and really stayed with me. From then on I was really drawn to learning more about the atrocity of human trafficking whenever I could.
What has been your involvement in the field of anti-human trafficking work up until now?
Human trafficking has been my focus for all of my research papers and studies. I have tried to specialize in it where my time at in college has allowed. During my time at college I interned at a crisis center called HAVEN. HAVEN is a crisis center for men, women, and children who are victims or survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. There, I was a client service intern. I worked on the hotline, I went to court with them to support them while trying to get restraining orders granted, I did a lot of emotional support and processing with clients. I supported clients while they worked with the police to press charges against those causing them harm. I also created an hour long training course on human trafficking and how best to work with survivors in a client service setting. In addition to this I did community outreach in local bars, tattoo parlors, restaurants, motels, and other places where I thought vulnerable individuals at risk of trafficking or those being trafficked may go. This outreach involved spreading word of my crisis center, HAVEN and the services we offered, as well as trying to educate the community about human trafficking.
Lastly, I just got back from a trip to Sri Lanka and Nepal with my brother. My older brother is starting his own organic, fair trade tea business, importing tea into America. I traveled with him to learn about the labor conditions in the tea estates we went to, ensuring that we were pleased with the way the workers were treated, their living conditions, and compensation. Labor trafficking is very pervasive in tea plantations (especially in India) so we wanted to be very careful as this business is being started about the people we source from and the things we support though the relationships we make. I learned a lot about labor conditions, living conditions, and social welfare in these countries. I also got the chance to meet with Asha Nepal and Maiti Nepal, two NGOs in Kathmandu that work to fight sex trafficking in Nepal. They do incredible work.
How did you find out about Invisible Traffick?
I was doing research about human trafficking and NGOs that fight human trafficking in Ireland when I came across Invisible Traffick’s website. I was encouraged to learn about the great work you do and wanted to reach out!
Have you ever been to Ireland?
Yes, I have been to Ireland before. Once for a short trip about two years ago. For this trip, I am most looking forward to working with Invisible Traffick and learning all about the work you do, the differences in the field in the U.S. and Ireland as well as the similarities. I am excited to learn and do whatever I can to help during my time here.
Thank you so much Victoria, see you soon!