PHOTOS BY VIETNAMESE HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS EXHIBITED2 min read

Vocalist+Thuy+Linh%2C+guitarist+Eric+Salueson+and+bassist+Paul+Collins+perform+jazz+during+the+opening+ceremony+of+a+human+trafficking+photo+exhibit+at+the+Dr.+Martin+Luther+King+Library+in+San+Jose%2C+Sunday%2C+April+14.%0D%0A

Soo Lee

Vocalist Thuy Linh, guitarist Eric Salueson and bassist Paul Collins perform jazz during the opening ceremony of a human trafficking photo exhibit at the Dr. Martin Luther King Library in San Jose, Sunday, April 14.

Soo Lee, Staff Writer

The opening ceremony for the photo exhibit “Stories of a Girl: Empowering Youth to End Trafficking” located in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose, Calif. took place April 15 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The exhibit was organized by the Pacific Links Foundation, an organization that “Supports the sustainable development of Vietnamese communities and the enrichment of their cultural heritage,” according to pacificlinks.org.

Diep Vuong, the president of Pacific Links Foundation, said the organization initiates counter-trafficking efforts at the frontiers of Vietnam by providing shelters and reintegration services for trafficking victims and their family, educating young children, and creating opportunities outside of prostitution for economic growth.

Vuong said the foundation does not yet engage in counterstriking or rescuing.  The organization focuses on healing and the prevention of trafficking.

The photo exhibit features photos of Vietnamese landscapes and communities, taken by trafficking survivors.

Survivors were given photo equipment to capture their daily lives in an effort to help them express their inner-selves through a more creative media.

The photographs produced by these individuals are then sold as proceeds for the Pacific Links Foundation.

“20.9 million are victims of human trafficking at any given time and the most common form of trafficking is sexual exploitation,” Vuong said.

Vuong shared stories of how girls are tricked by “fake love” and are eventually kidnapped and taken abroad.

Some girls are tricked into fake employment and opportunities for a better life,  Vuong said.

Thuy Linh, a volunteer for the foundation, said she was shocked when she heard how young trafficking victims were. Some of the victims were ages three and four, Linh said.

Jaideep Prabhu, an attendee of the ceremony, said she had stumbled upon the exhibit accidently, but was glad these issues were being addressed.

“I ran into a sign that the event was coming up without knowing much about the organization.  The situations are all undeniably inhumane and someone needs to stop them.” Prahbu said.

The opening reception included a book reading by leading Vietnamese-American author Andrew Lam from his latest book, “Birds of Paradise Lost” and a performance by Linh.

Admission for the exhibit is free and the exhibit will last through May 23.

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