Monday, July 27, 2009

Interview: Morgan Zamora

Morgan Zamora is one of the most inspirational people that I know. I have been fortunate enough to work with her as a Regional Coordinator with Americans for Informed Democracy, a not-for-profit that works to engage college students on global issues; our focus area was human trafficking. Morgan's work to raise awareness about and combat modern-day slavery does not end there, though. This fall she will be a junior in college, and despite being so young she is already a leader in anti-trafficking work. Her dedication, passion, and talent continue to amaze me.

Zamora is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition (HRRC) in Houston, TX. She is also the president of S.W.A.T (Students Working Against Trafficking) at the University of St. Thomas. Like many anti-trafficking activists and advocates, Zamora was motivated to take action after learning that modern-day slavery exists. After attending a screening of TRADE, Zamora meet with representatives from HHRC, and she immediately wanted to begin volunteering for them.

In her role with HRRC, Zamora has worked to raise awareness and mobilize action in the Houston area. As she notes, human trafficking is extremely prevalent in the Houston Area. After volunteering with HRRC, Zamora now coordinates others who give volunteer outreach presentations to local businesses, asking them to display Rescue and Restore posters about human trafficking and trafficking hotlines. Thus far, nearly 200 business in the area are displaying the posters. Zamora also does outreach work with at-risk populations, and her student organization is planning an anti-trafficking conference. She sums up her work by saying "my work in Houston has been focused on mobilizing individuals throughout the Houston area and creating a network of active abolitionists in the city."

According to Zamora, once she has sparked an interest in someone, the main challenge is keeping their passion for the work alive. While awareness raising is important, as Zamora notes, it can be difficult to measure success or progress in this area. She also pointed out the potential dangers of anti-trafficking activism, saying that "it can sometimes be a great task within itself to continuously come up with innovative and creative new ways to be an active abolitionist in a manner that is 'safe.'" This is certainly a challenge that I can identify with, and I know we would both appreciate any ideas that people have.

As Zamora's anti-trafficking work has deepened, her perspective on the issue has also shifted and deepened. While her work still entails educating people about the fact that trafficking happens (and that it happens in the US), Zamora states "I feel now that it is even more important to focus on why [human trafficking] exists. I think the public and society needs to be more aware of the consequences of their actions in relation to promoting certain gender stereotypes and capitalistic activities. There is a reason why millions of people are being exploited around the world, and if I could shed light on that and possibly make people rethink some of their actions, then perhaps their would be less exploitation. But that may just be wishful thinking. I hope not."

In order to address trafficking around the world, Zamora argues that different cultures and regions must address the issue from their perspectives. Anti-trafficking efforts must be grounded in the local context and culture. She suggests that "Change must start within each society around the world and people must realize the effects of their actions. For example, poverty may be the overall issue involved with trafficking in Eastern Europe and India, but there are varying cultural aspects of both cultures that allow for the exploitation of women and children or men of certain socioeconomic status." At the same time, Zamora points out that efforts must include an understanding of global systems that perpetuate trafficking, and people must see that their actions have consequences beyond what they might immediately see.

Zamora ended her comments with encouragement and a challenge: "I feel that people need to be informed but then that people need to be empowered. They need to be able to believe that they can change the outcome of the system they live in. The world needs more active abolitionists, who are not only informed of the issue of human trafficking but that realize that they live in a globally connected world, and their actions within consumerism and society all effect the enslavement of people in the world or in their own city."


  1. Anonymous5:48 PM

    This is a great article. She sounds like an amazing woman!

  2. Anonymous1:30 PM

    I enjoyed the article and I applaud Ms. Zamora for her hard work. Great site!