A Girl With Much To GiveNomi Network’s namesake is an eight-year-old survivor of sex trafficking who now lives in a supportive partner shelter in Cambodia. Co-founders Diana Mao and Alissa Moore first met Nomi on a visit in 2008, and Supei Liu met her in 2009. As a child living in a rural village, Nomi was sexually abused by multiple perpetrators and was treated worse than an animal. Nomi now lives in her shelter’s special needs group home with eight other girls. She has physical scars, but also emotional scars from her abuse which will pose major challenges to her living independently and reintegrate back into society. Nevertheless, Nomi has grown into a beautiful young woman, with a warmth that’s contagious and a generous heart. he is always the first to greet visitors to the shelter and to comfort other girls who are new to the shelter. It was through her friendship and resilience that we realized that she did not have to be defined by her past, but that she could be defined by her future. Nomi Network exists so that survivors will be able to say with confidence, know me, know my story, know my success.™
Change From Within
Diana Mao, Co-Founder, President of Nomi
It’s hard to believe that modern-day slavery exists, and even harder to believe that there are 46 Million slaves and that the human trafficking industry is a $150 Billion industry. The statistics of human trafficking were truly meaningless to me until I witnessed the horrors of sex trafficking first-hand. When I was at NYU working on my Masters in International Development and Management, I traveled to Cambodia for a research fellowship in micro-finance. While conducting interviews I met a single father with 7 children who offered my male colleague his daughter. When I looked into his eyes I saw his desperation. This experience caused a paradigm shift: I always thought human trafficking was perpetuated by criminal networks but I realized at that moment it often begins in the home.
This encounter left a lasting impression on me; after coming back from Cambodia to New York City, I was determined to do something. Shortly after my return, I met Alissa Moore-Williams, who had recently attended a social justice conference where she learned about human trafficking for the first time. After connecting through our experiences, Alissa and I decided to take a trip to Cambodia to explore the ways we could develop products that would create job opportunities for survivors and women at risk of human trafficking. While on the trip, Alissa and I visited a rehabilitation center for sexually abused and trafficked Cambodian children. Upon entering the center, we were welcomed by a young girl named Nomi. Nomi immediately smiled and threw her arms around us. It was with this simple embrace that Nomi Network began. Nomi’s story inspired the creation of our organization and the mission to provide training and job opportunities for survivors and women at risk of human trafficking so girls like Nomi can live in stable homes as opposed to being sold at the tender age of 8 years old. Upon returning from Cambodia, I was introduced to Supei Liu, an experienced buyer for a large Retail Chain with experience in product development who had a similar vision to benefit women in impoverished communities through product production. The three of us joined forces and launched our pilot program in Cambodia in 2009.