Tirzah Brown was 11 and living in Ft. Myers, Florida, when a trip to Romania with her father brought her face-to-face with the horrors of sex trafficking.
“My dad had been invited by an organization to counsel individuals with trauma issues. I was tagging along and volunteered with a drop-in center that helped street children,” she said. “I met a girl there my age who had been forced into prostitution. It shook me up a lot, meeting a child with such a different life.”
From that point forward, Brown committed herself to aiding individuals victimized by sex trafficking and modern slavery. Her mother, also an anti-slavery advocate, loaned her books on the topic and encouraged her to teach others via school projects and awareness-building activities.
Brown came to Atlanta to pursue her undergraduate degree and volunteered with Wellspring Living, an anti-trafficking organization. When she graduated, she joined Wellspring’s staff and developed a trauma-informed GED class and goal-setting program to complement a new program for adult survivors.
“One person in our program wanted to be a certified nursing assistant. We helped her apply for a voucher from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which funds low-income individuals to attend education programs that meet the needs of the state. She got the voucher,” said Brown.
After working awhile for Wellspring, Brown came to Georgia State University to earn a Masters of Public Administration with a nonprofit management concentration.
“I always knew I wanted to go into program management and evaluation, which requires a master’s degree,” she said. “But I don’t think anyone should be making decisions about people they don’t know, so I wanted to get more experience with survivors before I pursued the degree.”
A resident of Clarkston, Brown began volunteering at Friends of Refugees while studying at Georgia State and joined them part-time. “I help connect refugees with companies that want to hire them. As the organization grew, I grew with it.”
Brown plans to stay in Atlanta another year or so after her May graduation, but eventually she hopes to find work with an international nongovernmental organization that works on various women’s and girls’ issues, including ending sex trafficking.
“From the time I was in middle school, I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do something to help others reach their potential and am grateful to have so many opportunities to do that,” she said. “In the future, there’s some anti-trafficking organizations in D.C. that I respect and would like to work for. I can also see myself going abroad and doing something with that.”