What Are You Passionate About?
By Juliana Zhu, Esq.
Cancer InCytes Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2015
What are you passionate about? Each of us is passionate about something at one time or another. I didn’t have a clue as to what my life passion is until I looked at the past and saw how my experiences and encounters built upon one another and lead me to one word, restoration. It’s a little surprising as I thought I was impassioned about injustices, which I am. But, some of my work plays a part in enabling a person to become restored, to become whole and have dignity.
Recently, for the first time in my life I was in jail. It was one of those maximum security prison facilities where you can only bring paper and pen, no electronic devices. I sat on a chair, there was a phone attached to the wall, which was attached to a phone on the other side of the bullet proof clear pane (just like on TV) waiting to meet my client. About ten minutes later, a well mannered young person sat down across from me and then what struck me was how inhuman the surroundings were. She* was not supposed to be there longer than she has already been. I already knew the circumstances and assessed that’s the case, so I made it a point to work towards getting her out of that place. My work or part in restoration began. Since then, each time I saw her, I can see the weightiness in her. Most recently, since her release, her whole countenance changed and life is infused back into her.
Another example of seeing someone transformed from bondage to freedom is someone freed from labor trafficking. There doesn’t seem to be nearly as much press or talk about this labor trafficking as oppose to sex trafficking. What does it look like, and how do people get into it? Here’s one example. Jane* is a mother of three from a poor country. Her job prospects are limited as she has a small skill set. Through a job placement agency, she is promised a decent paying full time job as a room attendant at U.S. resort where she will be paid X amount. She pays an exorbitant job placement fee and had to get a loan for it. After she arrives in the U.S., her passport is taken by the employer. Also, she works either many hours or too few hours and paid Y amount, instead of what was originally promised. Additionally, fees are deducted from her pay and she is left with an even smaller amount which is not enough to pay off her loan each month as the money is needed to support her kids. Not only that, but on her days off, she’s not allowed to go anywhere unaccompanied. During the time of her employment, she has been promised a visa renewal and has been warned multiple times that if she left, it would be reported to the police and they would come after her. Otherwise, immigration would be contacted and deport her. Jane believes this and fears leaving her situation even though what she was promised is far from her reality. Many in Jane’s shoes find it very difficult to leave until they finally have the courage to escape, and sometimes is helped by a good Samaritan.
Restoration for Jane comes in the form of valid immigration status if she’s in the U.S. as well as restitution if there can be a civil lawsuit against the employer, though oftentimes that’s not the case. Nonetheless, enabling her to have access to real livelihood is life giving. Ultimately, it’s rewarding to see her and others similarly situated progress from bondage to freedom.
*Genders and names do not reflect any real person.
Juliana Zhu, Esq.
Senior Editor, Culture & Policy
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