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Justice and Reconciliation: A look into a student’s role with Beauty for Ashes

Sitting in Bobby B’s on a Tuesday morning, there are distractions everywhere: the loud coffee grinder, people typing on their computers, conversations buzzing and the all-dooming planner lay on the table.

But senior international studies major Mollie Ah Sing is completely engaged and passionate about the topic at hand—human trafficking and Beauty for Ashes.

This intentionality sets Mollie apart in her pursuit to stop anti-human trafficking.

“Since I’ve known her, Mollie has been a deep thinker, contemplative, compassionate and passionate about justice,” said Jamie Gates, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation.

Mollie’s passions to understand justice have led her around the world. After participating in a LoveWorks trip to Armenia, the South Africa Pilgrimage and studying abroad in Nepal, Ah Sing realized what reconciliation looked like in her own life and others globally.

Coming back from a semester in Nepal, Ah Sing had a calling to apply what she learned about human trafficking abroad to her homefront—San Diego.

According to the Department of Justice, San Diego ranks in the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the nation. According to the United Nations, in the United States alone human trafficking has annual revenue of $9.5 billion.

Mollie got involved with Beauty for Ashes her sophomore year, when former leader, Hayley Swan, encouraged her to participate in small activities with the organization. At this point, she had already fostered relationships with Gates. Swan graduated in the spring of 2014 with bachelor’s degree in international studies.

“Instead of turning away, instead of saying, ‘Okay that’s happening, good, let’s move on.’ Sitting with it and saying ‘no that’s not okay’—whatever it is. Whether it’s human trafficking or clean water, or whatever that is for you,” said Ah Sing.

Gates helped Mollie get involved with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, a grassroots organization that helps direct survivors of human trafficking in San Diego. Ah Sing now works part time for the nonprofit alongside her internship with Beauty for Ashes.

Gates became a mentor for Ah Sing and helped ease her transition coming back from Nepal and South Africa.

“Being able to plug into places in San Diego was a way I did reentry really well,” she said.

Gates and Ah Sing both said a defining moment in the future of Beauty for Ashes emerged in the spring of 2013 at the Association for Nazarene Sociologists and Researcher conference on Human Trafficking. A survivor of human trafficking shared her story at the Conference.

The survivor had one request.

“Give us an education. Help us go to college. This is one thing that will help move from survivor to moving on with our lives,” Ah Sing recalled.

It was from here that Gates, Mollie and other PLNU staff and students began to conceive the idea of a scholarship for human trafficking survivors.

“People offered their gifts. A lot of people stepped up, and it is something people care about. San Diego nonprofits and volunteers set aside things to come and support us. It was cool to see PLNU be a place where everyone can come together,” said Ah Sing.

And now, Beauty for Ashes and PLNU provide what the survivor asked for.

As Ah Sing looks back on her time at PLNU, she is thankful she learned to say “no” to things and truly invest in Beauty for Ashes.

To her, PLNU and Beauty for Ashes are reciprocal relationships. These organic relationships have given her so much – professors and students agree.

“I so appreciate how much she taught ME—about God, my faith, reconciliation,” said professor of Political Science Lindsey Lupo via e-mail.

Senior Spanish major, Corrie King, said it’s Mollie’s humility that allows her to stand out from the rest. King has been Mollie’s roommate and friend for the past three years.

“Mollie is wise beyond her years yet her adventurous, youthful spirit remains,” King said. “Her endless energy and enthusiasm for ending modern-day slavery is contagious; she works tirelessly day in and day out at all hours of the day. Most people don’t see all that she does, but Mollie is not about getting recognition, she’s about reconciliation and justice for all.”

The Beauty for Ashes Fund will continue to raise money through Dec. 14. Donations can be made here.

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