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Trafficking cops

"Trafficking cops" Continued...

Issue: "Babies are back," Jan. 29, 2011

"We don't have to go and rescue all these kids," he replied. "We have to fund the men who can."

Power of the purse

Nomi Network is channeling another kind of power in the fight against human trafficking-the purchasing power of the Manhattan fashionista. In December, co-founder Diana Mao sat in a booth at the festive outdoor holiday shops close to Columbus Circle in New York City, selling stylish purses and handbags made from recycled rice bags and stitched by women in Cambodia who are victims of sexual trafficking. Nomi Network designs the bags and works with a Cambodian partner called Hagar International to make them. All of the profits go back to the women's education and shelter.

Nomi Network began when Mao, who was studying public administration and international development at New York University, went to Cambodia to conduct research on microfinancing. She was shocked when a father tried to sell his own daughter to her and her colleagues. "I looked into his eyes and could really tell that he didn't want to give up his daughter," she said, and she began to see the correlation between abject poverty and human trafficking. When she got home she enlisted Alissa Moore, a church friend with an eye for design, to help her develop a product that Cambodian women could make to support themselves.

Since its incorporation in 2009, Nomi Network won the 2010 Classy Award for Small Charity of the Year.

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