KRISTIN HART planned on moving to New York City to become an advertising agent with a sleek apartment and a stunning wardrobe. But one day all that changed. A humble missionary couple spoke at her church in Gainesville, Fla., about their experience fighting human trafficking in Asia, and after hearing the horrors of slavery, Hart knew she had to do something.
As she prepared to graduate from college in 2011, she applied for an internship with International Justice Mission (IJM), a Christian organization that rescues victims from trafficking and other violent oppression. A few months later, she found herself confronting the harshest cases of exploitation in south Asia.
“I saw people forced to work 18 hours a day, with their families taken from them,” Hart says. “I never imagined that humanity could be stripped from a person like that.”
Hart gained valuable advocacy skills while working with IJM, and when she finished her position, she fully expected to find a job fighting trafficking in one of the world’s farthest corners. Little did she know her passion would lead her full circle back to Florida, where trafficking quietly plagues hundreds of young women each year. “I knew trafficking existed in America, but not to this extent,” she states.
Through a twist of connections, Hart began working as an advocate for Rethreaded, a faith-based organization in Jacksonville that employs women affected by the sex trade by helping them to “sew a new story.”
Now Hart encourages others to take part in the global fight, just as one couple inspired her years ago.
“I still have big dreams to empower the oppressed to live with freedom and dignity,” she says.