THE STORY / GLOBAL CITIZNS by LIV x JAW

The main thing I love about travelling is not just the adventure and thrill of experiencing something new, but what my heart experiences from connecting with people from all different places. I'm passionate in learning about cultures, sharing purpose, making connections, pursuing social justice, and the creative inspiration and message of hope that comes from storytelling.

To Fight For Change // Social Justice

I was 19 and it was my first trip to Thailand. A painful reality begin to sit deep within after visiting several orphanages, Burmese refugee camps, and communities in poverty. Hearing stories is one thing but personally encountering victims of rape, abuse, hunger, disease and death, I left feeling overwhelmed, powerless and burdened. For months, many of the faces that I've personally encountered from the trip would come to my mind. I felt angry, depressed and frustrated until I began to shift my focus off the circumstance and on hope. I remember some of the most broken, dark and devastating stories I'd heard and places I'd encountered also had stories - of restoration, healing, hope, and life. It was a powerful thing I began to meditate on. In the third world, I encountered unconditional love through so many who have been "victimized," "oppressed," and "poor." These strangers became my friends and in a sense, family. Their circumstances didn't define them. Whenever I was on a missions trip, all I could do was pray for people, but as I did, I felt a greater sense of urgency to learn how I can strategically partner with others with a similar vision to see the poor have access to even the most basic resources. In 2014, I revisited Thailand 4 years later and encountered the same injustices. This time I couldn't standby and passively accept what my eyes had seen and heart had experienced for the second time.

When I was 19, I began to dream about a vision that maybe I could do something to make a difference. It didn't matter what it looked like, I just wanted it to be significant. I knew that even the few missions trips and charitable volunteer trips I had the privilege to partake in were not enough for me to walk away feeling satisfied. I don't discredit the impact of these trips, but something felt very void and uneasy. I desired to find a way for those living in poor conditions to find freedom from the injustices their circumstances brought them, but I didn't feel equipped to make any kind of tangible impact. So I began to build relationships and try to understand more. It upset me to know that after leaving a community or project, there was an uncertainty of how sustainable or impactful our volunteer efforts were. Did they last? Why did I feel so uneasy? Yes, I believe that we can pray for people and do camps and build churches, but we needed more. I wanted to invest in the future of the children I met. I wanted to make sure there were as many kids possible that could be sponsored to get an education.

When I returned to the US, I began to study about the core issues of poverty, oppression, violence, and injustice, and realized they were much more complicated than I had imagined. Different aspects of culture, history, belief systems, economic, social and governmental systems play a huge role in each society across many levels. This means one solution cannot be applied in the masses. Because someone is hungry, we can just hand them food, but this is not sustainable. We can rescue a woman from sex trafficking, but without the right legal protection and law enforcement, counseling services, economic opportunity, we are not empowering those we think we may be helping. Short term solutions do not solve poverty or the propellers of injustice itself in the long run. I know it seems like a daunting task, but I believe we can make a difference together - through the marketplace, creativity, our voice, and unifying to believe in change. Transformation in communities can start with a single idea, a seed of hope, new thoughts and creative ideas, and just the voice of an ordinary individual like you and me. Our art and gifts can be used to bring change. We have many resources we can use to share. I believe funding is secondary and financial provisions can be met, but first we need a strategy and plan. Creativity is a powerful tool and our voices can shift a perspective that enables freedom and hope for the voiceless and oppressed.

Today I have a vision and the courage to be a part of a powerful movement that provides restoration and hope. I believe in seeing positive and measurable change with some willingness, creativity, and collaboration. It starts with our own community! Through art and community activism, I believe we can see freedom for the poor and oppressed as we stand on behalf of voiceless and hopelessness.