Angela Nguyen never imagined herself in the leadership position that she is in now -spearheading an organization to fight child trafficking.
After graduating from the University of Calgary with a Nursing Degree in 2010, Angela pursued a career in Nursing for 8 years before eventually finding her calling as the president and founder of One Body Village, an organization that supports child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation by providing short and long-term shelter, education, medical care, psychological counselling, and vocational training.
Angela first discovered One Body Village when she was 23, visiting Vietnam for the first time. There, she was introduced to the topic of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation by my her friend, Kelly. Kelly, a passionate anti-human trafficking advocate, was heavily involved with One Body Village USA, the founding American charity that started this incredible movement almost 20 years ago. Kelly shared the harsh truths of Vietnam’s sex trafficking industry, including stories of children as young as eight being sold for sex by their parents. Angela would later learn that children younger than four years old are victims of sex crimes. Because of destitute poverty and pure desperation, parents would sell their children for as little as $250 USD. Children would be raped 10 to 15 times a day by men who paid thousands of dollars to exploit them.
Of Vietnamese heritage herself, Angela felt guilt having been born in a beautiful country that supports her hopes and dreams. “My parents were refugees after the Vietnam War and I did not have very much growing up. Yet, I was given every opportunity to succeed, go to school, get a degree, buy a home. I wanted Canadians to pay attention to the suffering of children beyond our borders, because we have the moral responsibility to protect them just as we do our own.”
CEO and Founder of C.J. Rocker Shirley Sze also has a passion for fighting child sexual abuse and exploitation. Her jewelry company, C.J. Rocker, is meant to inspire and empower its wearers. The pieces act as reminders of love, support and strength. To celebrate the launch of her now successful business, Shirley hosted her first gala in 2017. In lieu of a big party with expensive food and alcohol, Shirley opted to use her event as a opportunity to give back. Her goal was to raise $10K in support of Covenant House and the recent opening of their new shelter, which supports local girls who have been forced into the sex trade. As Shirley planned the event, she became more and more committed to the cause; doing hours of research, talking to survivors and case workers. “It was THE most demanding and mentally exhausting goal I have ever achieved; I quite literally worked myself sick,” says Shirley. “We donated $12K – $2k above our target – but I vowed that my first fundraiser would be my last. And then I met Angela.”
Angela and Shirley crossed paths through a mutual friend at a women entrepreneurs’ event. Just a few days later, the two connected over email to arrange a coffee date, and soon became good friends.
“We bonded immediately.” says Shirley. “She asked me the question I get all the time: “Why sex trafficking? I explained that two causes break both my heart and my brain if I try to understand them: sex trafficking and organ trafficking. With sad eyes, Angela told me a story that still causes me grief. A 6 year old boy who was rescued in one of OBV’s shelters showed her his scar. He had his kidneys removed. When my brain finally understood she was telling me that sex trafficking victims who get pregnant are now forced to have babies to use for organ trafficking, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. The way I know how to help financially is to host galas, so here we are.”
The C.J. Rocker Freedom Rock Fundraiser Gala promises an evening of jewelry and world change, with a goal to raise $15,000 for One Body Village to advance their programs in Southeast Asia. On September 22nd, guests can enjoy a 3-course dinner and complimentary wine provided by Mark Anthony Wine and Spirits with purchase of their $100 ticket. 100% of proceeds and donations will go directly to One Body Village in order to help children exploited by sex trafficking. $20 tax receipts will be administered for every ticket, as well as full-value receipts for donations.
These donations are critical in order to find, assist and treat child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Angela explains, “Through our partnerships and connections with local personnel and agencies, our rescue and outreach officers make their way to every child we can. We also have a hotline in Vietnam that an officer responds to 24/7.We are so proud to offer them a loving home where they choose to call us, ‘family’ and each other, ‘sisters’. Our impact allows them to regain their human dignity, restore their self-esteem, realize their self-worth, and rebuild their lives.”
If you want to get involved in One Body Village, Angela encourages Canadians to educate themselves, share information and raise awareness by bringing this issue to the forefront of our political conversations. Angela herself started volunteer fundraising for One Body Village USA by hosting bake sales and making bracelets that generated $10,000 a year. “You can do the same, host an awareness event, do a run, come to local events, volunteer locally or join a volunteer trip with One Body Village Canada or any other organization! Together, we can end child trafficking in our lifetime!”