Outraged, I refused to wait for the next person to act .They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Mine began with a quest for answers. In the coming months, I seized every free moment to research child exploitation and issues such as working children, child soldiers, and children on the streets. But eventually I grew exhausted with my sources. I knew that if I wanted to speak
out on behalf of exploited children, and move other young people to join me, I would need personal stories.
I could only accomplish this by meeting the children behind the facts and figures, hearing their tragic stories of exploitation and abuse, seeing their lives, and asking how young people could help. At 17, I borrowed funds, and took a hiatus of 3.5 months from school, and embarked on a trip to Sri Lanka,
to investigate the flourishing child sex industry ( with almost 40,000 children in prostitution) to conduct an independent investigation. With a camera in tow (sometimes concealed), I made visits to the slums, garbage dumps, streets, and factories known to employ children, and conducted interviews (sometimes at
great risk, under the watchful eyes of perpetrators), with a range of individuals- from exploited children, their families to child advocates, law enforcement, and senior state officials.
Based on my findings, and eager to get an intimate understanding of the global phenomenon, with persistence, I convinced the Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, and partnering with them , played the main role of the
DECOY – a 15 year old child in prostitution- in a high-risk STING operation ending in the apprehension of a 40 year-old child sex offender – a senior executive of a multinational corporation, and a father of 2 children aged 5 and 7.
Fuelled by my interviews with children, and my own experience of going undercover and understanding how it feels to have your childhood commodified, I fought with persistence to secure a meeting with the Advisor on Social Infrastructure, where I discussed the views of the children and frontline workers and posed critical questions about the government’s child protection policies. I’d walk into the meeting with two self-initiated petitions on health and nutrition, and internally displaced persons signed by Canadian youth, and leave with an offer to serve for a year at the Presidential Secretariat as the President’s Nominee
on Child Protection.