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We all have hopes and dreams. My sister loved to play with insects when she was a little girl. Where most girls would squeal and run, she was always happy to pick up a worm and examine it. I always assumed she would be a vet. Now she works on staff at her local church and rides a harley.

I used to stand on the back of the couch and sing when I was 4 years old. My father nicknamed me ‘The Dancer of Couches’. I started dance training that year, and I never looked back. I worked in Entertainment much of my life.

Every boy and girl grows up with a dream. We each dream of becoming what we know inside we were meant to be.

No child ever dreamt of being exploited or abused. The harsh reality that we have some 20 million slaves around the world is not easily ignored. Trafficking has become a hot button topic, and rightfully so.

One of the ways we help to combat human trafficking is through story. Sharing the stories of survivors and the hearts of advocates helps us to understand that each of these survivors is a sister, brother, and friend to someone. I recently attended an event where the survivors were asked to recite their dreams. In that moment I was reminded of how linked all our dreams are to one another.

Norma had a dream. She was a young beautiful model.  At 19 years old Norma was offered a modeling job in Japan.  When she arrived, she was sold to a wealthy man. Norma was drugged, beaten, and experienced sexual violence. She eventually escaped with the help of a nearby convent.

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6 years ago Norma decided to share her story. Sadly, there are many stories like hers, but each time a survivor chooses to share it helps bring awareness, and shows an enormous amount of courage.

Norma now lives with her two children in Canada. In 2014 Norma Bastidas completed the worlds longest triathlon. She is a survivor of human trafficking and is making great strides to bring awareness to this injustice.

Now… she has a new dream. If you had asked me a few years ago what was my quest about I would have said that it was to fight blindness, now I realize that I am here to show my kids to live life with passion. My passions are running, exploring and dedicating my life to find a cure for my son and others around the world like him. In 2010 I decided to open up about my past, it’s not real courage if you don’t face your biggest fears, for me it was to openly say, I am a survivor of sexual violence.”

Today we’d like to salute our partner iEmpathize for the hard work they have done to share the story of this survivor.

We are so proud of iEmpathize for all the work they are doing to encourage Norma and help share her story of triumph. The triathlon Norma completed was 3,762 miles long. She biked, ran, and swam from Cancun to Washington D.C. The course traced a known human trafficking route and will be made in to a documentary film to raise awareness and funds for trafficking victims. In 64 days Norma not only beat Guinness’ World Record for longest triathlon, she more than doubled it!  Nothing like this has ever been accomplished before! She continues to run, and you can follow her progress at www.normabastidas.com. To date Norma has run ultras on 7 continents!

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This documentary demonstrates perseverance and shows how far survivors can come when given the tools and community needed to thrive. iEmpathize has done a great job of sharing Norma’s story and we are excited to see the documentary in it’s entirety when it is released.

If you’d like to see the trailer for Be Relentless follow this link:

http://berelentless.iempathize.org/th_gallery/relentless-trailer/

Thank you iEmpathize for bringing awareness, resources, and solutions to a heartbreaking global issue. Each story of hope and victory that we share brings encouragement to both survivors and supporters alike. Together we are making progress, and together we will see lives redeemed!

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

Contributing Writer, Two Wings

www.jessikafuhrmaneck.com

www.instagram.com/jessikafuhrmaneck

www.twitter.com/jessfuhrmaneck

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