Human Trafficking Blog

Turning Lived Experience into Passion for Human Rights: Siraaj’s Story

Our Because I Know campaign celebrates the fact that every individual has the power to inspire meaningful action in our communities. By educating ourselves about the realities of human trafficking and developing our knowledge on the issue, we each have the ability to make a difference. Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to Siraaj Salem, a Spring 2022 intern who participated in our Leadership Development Program

Joining the LCHT Team

“Siraaj joined us at the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking with complete dedication. She was always so positive and often shared how grateful she was to be working on the issue of human trafficking,” shares Lauren Holsombeck, Program Coordinator. “It’s a rare trait to find in such a heavy field, but such a breath of fresh air. Siraaj’s optimism did not come from naivety on the issue, but rather her connection to it and the chance to make a difference for other families similar to hers.” At the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, we’re constantly impressed by individuals like Siraaj who are driven to become more informed human rights leaders. 

Siraaj Salem as a Rising Human Rights Leader

Siraaj first became aware of human trafficking through her neighbors when they introduced her family to a TV show titled Human Trafficking. Watching this mini-series stirred deep emotions for Siraaj. At that time, she felt angry and sad, but above all else, she felt motivated. 

Quote from Siraaj Salem on human trafficking

As a force for change, Siraaj has made a commitment to educating herself and others on the realities of human trafficking. By generating awareness, she hopes to reduce the horrible injustices that come with it. She shares, “Because I know about human trafficking, I will always keep an open mind about the myths and realities of the issue and continue to educate myself about it as it may change over time.”

Keep reading to hear directly from Siraaj about her connection to the anti-trafficking movement…

Can you share why human trafficking is personal for you?

“My mother is a survivor of human trafficking. She was born and raised in a rural area of Brazil, and at the age of just 11 years old, her father took her and her sister to Palestine without her mother’s permission in order to be groomed for a Muslim marriage. She was in an arranged marriage with my father at the young age of 14. My mother eventually ended up in the United States with my father and wasn’t in contact with her mother until 2004, more than 20 years later. My mother’s experience shaped who I am because I became passionate about combatting human trafficking. I believe that no one should have to endure the traumatic experience similar to my mom’s and I’ve worked towards educating myself and others about human trafficking.”

Quote from Siraaj Salem on her family's experience

Based on your knowledge of human trafficking, what actions has that inspired you to take?

“My knowledge has grown over time to know about the different aspects of human trafficking. There are many different forms, and because of that, it has inspired me to always keep an open mind when discussing the issue and knowing there is no specific ideal victim.” 

Video play of Siraaj's audio story

How were you involved with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking? 

“I was an intern at the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. My time at LCHT supported my involvement in the anti-trafficking movement by improving my knowledge on what human trafficking means and what it consists of beyond what I previously knew. I also know of more resources to guide people to if I suspect any instances of human trafficking.”

What are your wishes for the future of this movement?

“One thing I wish everyone knew about human trafficking is that it does not just consist of sex trafficking. One action I wish they would take is to read more about it or attend a training session like one of LCHT’s to learn about the realities of it.”

3 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

Want to help people like Siraaj discover their potential as human rights leaders? Want to join Siraaj in helping to end human trafficking? Join the movement to support survivors and make our communities safer. Here are the top 3 ways to make a difference:

  1. DONATE. Your gift today will support anti-trafficking training, community-based research, Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline, and the development of future human rights leaders. Any amount you can give fuels progress!
  2. GET TRAINED. Get yourself or your organization/community group trained to identify human trafficking and be there for survivors.
  3. GIVE TIME. Support survivors as a volunteer advocate for Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline. Provide callers and texters with the resources they need.